Hargreaves’s Exceptions Event in HoC 18th October 2011

Many thanks to Jim Dowd MP  for chairing this event, in such a knowledgeable and entertaining way, in the House of Commons and staying on to speak to the panel and guests afterwards. This event was very well attended with an audience that included the full spectrum of copyright reform stakeholders, including collecting societies, copyright owners, IT start-ups, publishers, broadcasters, public intermediaries such as libraries and museums, and last but not least copyright lawyers.  The purpose of the event was to o discuss Prof Hargreaves’ recommendation to introduce a new format-shifting and parody exception, and to extend the research and archiving exceptions to film and sound recording.  It  was memorable and enjoyable discussion with presentations from:

Martin Brennan, founder and CEO of 3GA Ltd. Martin talked about his battle with the Advertising Standards Authority, which found his company to be “inciting consumers to break the law”, for telling them that they can copy their CDs onto the Brennan JB7 for convenient listening. Martin spoke passionately about the need for a format-shifting exception to provide UK based inventors and technology start-ups with legal certainty. See interview with Martin Brennan about the JB7

Prof Martin Kretschmer, director of the Centre for IP Policy & Management at Bournemouth University. Martin talked about the European requirement of “fair compensation” in relation to certain copyright exceptions. His report on copyright levies, funded by the Economic & Social Research Council, has been cited by the Hargreaves Review and in the Government’s response to Hargreaves. See Private Copying and Fair Compensation: A comparative study of copyright levies in Europe the audience were impressed with his balanced approach and European perspective.

Richard Brousson, legal counsel at the British Film Institute (BFI). Richard talked about the difficulties the BFI faces because the existing archiving exception excludes film. The BFI is tasked, amongst other things, with preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations. He also gave an insight into the difficulties researchers face in accessing our cultural heritage because film is excluded from the existing non-commercial research exception. There was a useful discussion about  the danger of losing content to other countries if we can’t  make it easier to archive British content digitally at home.

James Sadri, digital producer at Greenpeace UK. James led Greenpeace’s online campaign to turn Volkswagen ‘away from the dark side’. Their Star Wars parody drew legal threats from Lucas Film for copyright infringement. After the parody was pulled from YouTube, Greenpeace pleaded fair use under US law, and YouTube reinstated the parody. But Greenpeace still risks being sued in UK courts for copyright infringement. James talked about the importance of parody and the need to clarify UK law and he showed the Greenpeace film: See Turn VW away from the Dark Side

Special thanks to Saskia Walzel, Senior Policy Advocate at Consumer Focus for her work in raising this important issue and for making this such an enjoyable event for all. Read more about the Consumer Focus position on copyright exceptions here.


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