John Whittingdale, chairman of the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport, will lead the group, with Pete Wishart vice-chairing, under The All Party-Parliamentary Group on IP umbrella (APIP).
Ministers were surprised to discover that the government now advocated “the widest possible exceptions to copyright within the existing EU framework” and that “there is a need for a wider set of exceptions at EU level”.
In addition, a clutch of other “innovations” were quietly introduced bearing either the government imprimatur or as consultation “recommendations”. Copyright businesses ranging from games to music generally don’t like compulsory licensing – it removes their ability to compete and set prices for their work. What they want is access to markets.
UK IP policy now marches to a very different drum: the fashionable academic thinking is that IP is an impediment to modernity, and must be hacked away wherever possible. This meets with approval from academic theorists (for whom weakening IP is another death blow to capitalism) and bureaucrats (who are elevated by such schemes). These are two groups who (coincidentally) have spent their lives avoiding markets and the private sector, and their antipathy to it is deep. But it’s hard to find support shared elsewhere. There is no reason to elevate one set of prejudices at the expense of another.
The IPO’s private policy-making has, in effect, been an undemocratic coup.
One economic sector that does benefit from taking creators’ rights out of markets are advertising-supported American web companies – the instigators of the current round of IP thinking. Whether APIP really wants to run across this political minefield – or has the time to – remains to be seen.