Monday, December 11, 2006

British Library looks at intellectual property issues

Back in August, the British Library released a manifesto entitled "Intellectual Property: A Balance." The four-page document talks about the Library's position and those areas that need to be addressed:
  • The fact that digital is not different
  • Fair Dealing (or as termed in the U.S., Fair Use)
  • Archiving
  • Term of copyright
  • Orphan works
  • Unpublished works
The document, which is the Library's input into what is called the Gowers Review, ends with a call for the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property to look at these issues. Now the Gowers Review has done just that and has released its 150-page report, which touches on a broad range of intellectual property (IP) concerns. And as you might expect, the British Library has released its response.

To those in Britain, the details of these documents will be important. For me, however, what is important is that the issues are out on the table and are being discussed. Discussion can lead to changes that will help us to harness and use creative efforts. As the the report from the Gowers Review states in its conclusion:
Creativity, innovation and investment are crucial to boosting the productivity of the UK economy. Looking forward, their importance is set to remain centre-stage as we enter the ‘third industrial revolution’. The UK must be able to harness creativity and promote innovation in order to compete in the global, knowledge-based economy. Intellectual Property creates the link in the chain which incentivises individuals and firms to innovate and create, with the confidence that their investment is protected.
Indeed, the same words can be applied to every country. Perhaps these efforts in the UK will lead others to open discussions and to think about these matters.

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