Law Politics

My first reactions to the Gowers Review…

So the Gower’s Review has been released and you can download it as a PDF. I’ve not read it in detail yet, although I hope to in the next couple of days, but the impression I get is that in general it’s pretty positive – if I’m reading it correctly, it contains recommendations that individuals should have the right to make private copies of their music, that copyright terms should not be extended and that there should be a general provision that any subsequent term extensions should not be retroactive – ie. that people with copyright get what they were entitled to when the work was created. It looks like he’s also recommended no changes to the EU’s patent law with regards to software patents or genes or business practices, and that there should be provisions which require media that contains DRM to be clearly labelled. That one alone is pretty bloody interesting. In addition orphaned worksstuff that no author can be found forwould be easier to reuse legally, and libraries and research institutions should be given special provisions to protect, preserve and utilise copyrighted information.

There’s some stuff I’m less sure about. It’s probably reasonable to make sure there are mechanisms in place to dissuade the illegal commercial distribution of copyrighted material and to protect legitimate IP. However I’m a bit confused about the specifics of how this might conceptually affect people whosaygive music to friends, as teenagers have been doing since the creation of the blank cassette tape decades back. And obviously, you have to think about loopholes and ways in which companies can find ways to circumvent the spirit of the law while remaining within the letter – for example, I’m not sure that the rights for Libraries to make copies for preservation counts for much if they don’t have the right to circumvent DRM restrictions to do so. I’ll look forward to reading more about that later when I’ve got more time.

Any reactions from anyone else? What do you think about Gowers?

3 replies on “My first reactions to the Gowers Review…”

I thought that the Gowers report is the first time I’ve ever seen a pro-consumer report on the whole subject of Copyright. It’s a refreshing change to see a independant report actually saying something in touch with the people in the country, rather than just towing the party line.
The real test, of course, is to see what makes it to policy.

I’ve just realised that this is Andrew Gowers, who I knew slightly at school. (Very slightly, if I’m honest – he was two years above me.) The lad done good.

I’ve only read in detail the section covering music copyright extension. Read sections 4.20 – 4.40 for a wonderful point by point demolition of the main arguments that the BPI et al put forward for extending the term to 95 years. It’s marvellous stuff. It’s just a shame that he didn’t consider reducing the term as today’s Guardian leader and a letter in today’s FT both talk about.

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