In July the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) released a report on copyright licensing in the digital age. The report details the response of the UK Government to Professor Ian Hargreaves’ recommendation of a Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE).
I have previously blogged on the Hargreaves report and the Government’s general agreement with Professor Hargreaves’ recommendations. In particular, the Government stressed the importance of IP law to economic development and encouraged the creation of a DCE to increase overall market efficiency. The Government acknowledged that “[i]n order to achieve this goal, substantial amounts of material must be made available through the DCE, rights holders must be empowered to set prices, and the DCE must be an independent marketplace.”
Studies regarding the DCE recommendation have now led to endorsement of the creation of a Copyright Hub, the details of which are contained in the IPO’s report. The Hub would be based in the UK but would be linked to the “growing national and international network of private and public sector digital copyright exchanges, rights registries and other copyright-related databases, using agreed cross-sectoral and cross-border data building blocks and standards, on a ‘voluntary, opt-in and non-exclusive basis.”
The Hub will have five primary purposes. It will serve as a navigation system as well as an educational tool. Owners will be able to register their works and any associated rights and licenses. As a result, the Hub will function as a “marketplace for rights” as well as become an effective tool for due diligence searches of orphan works. In addition, the Hub will also likely benefit start-up companies and enable them to manage their intellectual property and discourage piracy of their works. This objective may be aided by connection of the Hub to other copyright databases and collective societies. Thus, the overarching goal of the suggested Hub is the broad exchange of information on intellectual property rights and ownership.
The report characterizes the Hub as a central, unified marketplace for copyrighted works, promoting the efficient, streamlined exchange of rights and data between many different sources. Through past IPilogue posts, I have expressed an opinion regarding the necessity of a creative approach to Copyright law in the digital age. As new technological mediums create new opportunities for creators, they also generate new avenues for infringement. Allowing a stagnant approach to Copyright law will not help to adequately address new developments. By nature, IP law has a somewhat abstract quality, and increasingly innovative efforts, such as the proposed Copyright Hub, help to simplify owners’ rights and the licensing process. Therefore, the Hub is an example of an approach that utilizes technology to create a more organized approach to rights management.
Nora Sleeth is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.