Précis - The UK Government has given further information on the implementation of the recommendations of the Hargreaves report on IP law.
What? In particular, there will be no new structure for design law, despite the complexity of the current system. Instead, there will be a focus on relatively limited improvements to the way the existing law works. This may include the introduction of a criminal offence for deliberately infringing registered designs. Some may regard this as a missed opportunity, given that design law is both complex and can be difficult to apply in practice.
The response also referred to orphan works, works whose author is unknown or cannot be traced. The Government intends to make them available for use, subject to safeguards under an authorisation scheme. However, the scope of the safeguards is still under consideration. It may be difficult to ascertain, and therefore prevent, proposed use where particular harm may be caused by the use of the work. Given the possible complexity of the authorisation scheme, it may be some time before this proposal is implemented.
As expected, the Government is likely to proceed with a proposal to permit format-shifting, where works purchased in one format (e.g. on CD) are copied to another (such as the hard disk of a laptop). This is likely to be limited to personal use.
Despite opposition in the consultation to the Hargreaves report, the Government suggested that it may press ahead with an exception to copyright to allow data mining; i.e. copying works such as scientific articles to allow useful information to be extracted. Again, proper protection for scientific research and the related publishing industries was stressed; one method of allowing data mining would be to make sure that publishers ensure that licences are readily available at commercially realistic rates.
So What? Overall, the Government's response to the House of Commons report on the proposals, indicates that it is keen to press ahead with the recommendations in the Hargreaves report. These are intended to promote the economic exploitation of works and to encourage growth within the creative industries. It remains to be seen whether the proposals will have the desired effect.