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Hargreaves Report will call for an online copyright exchange system, say reports

People and companies will be able to exchange the rights for using copyright material online if new changes to UK copyright law are implemented, according to a newspaper report.16 May 2011

Professor Ian Hargreaves, who was asked by the Government to conduct a review of intellectual property (IP) law, will call for a digital rights exchange when his report is published later this week, according to a report in the Financial Times (FT).

The online exchange will "make the UK the best place in the world to do business in digital content,” the report will say, according to the paper.

The Hargreaves Report will say that copyright holders will benefit from improved exposure for their works; from being able to record ownership of rights, and from a clearer understanding of the terms and conditions of licensing copyright material, the FT said.

“The prize is to build on the UK’s current competitive advantage in creative content to become a leader in licensing services for global content markets; in short to make the UK the best place in the world to do business in digital content,” Hargreaves will say in his review, the FT said.

“It is not fanciful to suggest such a development would be of comparable importance over time to the UK’s position as the leading service support centre in the European timezone in financial services,” Hargreaves will say, the paper said.

Hargreaves will advise that industry should set up the digital rights exchange, but will call on the Government to appoint someone to oversee its design and implementation, and persuade companies to join the system, according to the FT.

The Hargreaves Report will also recommend altering UK copyright law to reflect public behaviour, the FT report said. Currently the law does not allow people to transfer music from a CD to an MP3 player.

The Government has already promised to modernise the current copyright system, with simplified payments and minimal transaction costs, in response to Hargreaves' review as part of the Treasury's Plan for Growth (131-page / 1.7MB PDF). The report also commits the Government to no further broad IP rights reviews during this Parliament.

Speaking to industry representatives in November 2010, the Prime Minister had said he wanted to see a US-style approach to IP laws, including a 'fair use' exemption to allow copyrighted material to be used freely without permission under certain conditions.

Strong opposition to the idea was expressed in submissions to Hargreaves' review panel from media industry bodies such as ITV and News Corporation.

An imminent review of EU laws on IP, also due this month, will likely offer similar protections to creators' rights.

Technology law news is also available from Bootlaw, a free resource for technology start-ups, with regular events hosted by Pinsent Masons.

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