Ministerial speech to CILIP copyright conference

Lord Younger, Minister for Intellectual Property, speaks about the latest developments in copyright legislation and licensing

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Viscount Younger of Leckie

I would like to start by thanking the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals for inviting me to address you today.

This is an exciting time to be involved with cultural heritage as we make it easier for the public to see the treasures held in the many great and varied libraries, archives, museums and galleries of the UK.

Let me just start by saying that I very much recognise the importance of this sector and the need to ensure that copyright allows it to make good use of digital technology.

The sector provides over one hundred thousand jobs in the creative economy and their collections contain millions of items

  • for example the British Library has holdings covering around four hundred miles of shelves which, at a rate of viewing of five items a day would take over eighty thousand years to see. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are all hoping to live longer, but perhaps not quite that long!

  • but there’s more, the National Museum of Wales has fifteen art galleries and the National Records of Scotland hold fifty miles of shelves

  • the Library at Queen’s University, Belfast has many rare and early printed books, map and manuscript collections, as well as more modern material

  • The National Archives cover over a thousand years of history, and there are thirty million archival items in English and Welsh public archives

These, and the thousands of other museums, galleries, libraries and archives across the UK provide a valuable cultural and economic contribution.

As part of that great heritage, when I first took on my role as the Intellectual Property Minister, just over a year ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Government Art collection, to select some items to display in my office.

I chose a number of works including an engraving by Henry George Rushbury of the castle in my home town, Stirling, which also happens to be the old headquarters of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, which is my family regiment.

I also chose a portrait of Dr Nathaniel Spens by Raeburn because Spens was a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen’s bodyguard for Scotland, of which I am a member.

I am a great supporter of museums and galleries, libraries and archives, not least because I studied fine art and Medieval history at St Andrews. Although it is fair to say that my tutor might have said my presence could have graced the library more often.

With this background, I am therefore very pleased that proposals which developed from the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth are now coming to fruition. And I would now like to outline the proposals relating to this sector.

Firstly, we are introducing copyright exceptions to aid preservation, archiving and non-commercial research

  • we are widening the preservation exception to apply to museums and galleries, as well as libraries and archives and to cover a broader range of media including films and sound recordings
  • we are removing unnecessary bureaucracy in the archiving of broadcasts and folksongs
  • we are also widening the non-commercial research exception to allow students and libraries to copy a wider range of works – as well as facilitating greater access to fragile works via dedicated computer terminals

We are also introducing other exceptions that may benefit libraries and archives and those who use them, such as the exceptions for data mining and quotation.

The Regulations for copyright exceptions were laid before Parliament last Thursday. They will be debated by both Houses and, if passed, will come into force on 1 June.

Secondly, let me now turn to the regulations concerning unpublished works

  • we know that there are many documents that are hundreds of years old but are still in copyright just because they are unpublished
  • the Government has taken powers in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act to bring the copyright term for unpublished documents in line with published ones
  • the Regulations specifying how this will happen will be published this summer for implementation as soon as possible thereafter

Thirdly, I’d like to focus on orphan works. We have taken measures to enable use of works where the rights holder cannot be found, so-called ‘orphan works’.

We are implementing the EU Directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works at the end of October. This will mean that publicly accessible archives can digitise many of their orphan works and make them viewable on their websites.

The public across the EU will be able to view much of their heritage online, without always needing to travel perhaps hundreds of miles to see the works.

As a complement to the orphan works Directive, we are introducing an orphan works licensing scheme.

This will allow any type of user to apply for a licence, for any type of work and for both commercial and non-commercial use.

This will mean authors and publishers will be able to reproduce orphan documents and images in books. Television production companies will be able to use orphan film clips in documentaries. Museums will be able to copy and enlarge fragile photographs to display in exhibitions and online.

As the orphan works licensing scheme allows commercial use, we have introduced important additional safeguards for rights holders around the diligent search and the licence fee.

I know that it is important that the licensing scheme is both affordable and easy to use, particularly for non-commercial users. With this in mind, I am very pleased that many of you here and in the heritage sector across the UK are working with my officials to develop a scheme that is of benefit to all.

We hope to launch the licensing scheme at the same time as the orphan works Directive is implemented and it will be reviewed annually after launch to learn from the licensing experiences and improve as necessary.

Finally, extended collective licensing, or ECL

  • ECL schemes will allow collecting societies that are significantly representative of rights holders in a particular sector, to license on behalf of all rights holders in that sector, provided certain safeguards are met
  • by allowing these societies to operate on the basis of opt out, ECL schemes should reduce transaction costs for licensees and increase the number of works in circulation
  • ECL has the potential to be a useful tool for licensees, provided collecting societies can demonstrate the all-important rights holder mandate

The Government believes these measures will have benefits for the public and the cultural sector, for the economy, for innovation, competition, research, education and respect for the law.

I know you understand how important copyright is and hope therefore you will appreciate that we needed to consider the interests of rights holders while updating the law. I have therefore sought to ensure, throughout these reforms, that copyright continues to encourage creativity and reward creators.

However, the Government also believes that measures which benefit your sector will lead to benefits for rights holders too - such as increasing the chances of orphan works being reunited with their owners and remuneration being available where it was not before.

I would like to finish by thanking all those of you who have engaged with me and those with whom I have met - some of you are here today - for the help you have provided me and my officials in developing these proposals.

The changes in the law have taken a long time to achieve because they are complex and many views have needed to be taken into account. There is that well-worn plaintiff cry from a child during a long car journey, “Are we nearly there yet?” On this, I believe that we are nearly there now and soon we will be able to benefit from all that hard work.

I hope you will take advantage of the changes we are introducing and help to make them a success. Thank you for your time and enjoy the rest of the day.

Published 2 April 2014