Friday, October 30, 2009

David Lammy calls for pan-European approach to copyright protection; Guardian, 10/27/09

Mark Sweney, Guardian; David Lammy calls for pan-European approach to copyright protection:

Intellectual property minister tells C&binet Forum delegates that progress on copyright piracy cannot be made without a 'European consensus'

"David Lammy, the intellectual property minister, has today warned that the UK cannot solve the problem of copyright piracy without the support of other European governments.

Lammy, speaking at the government's digital creative industries conference C&binet, said the UK has been stymied in its efforts to strengthen the enforcement of copyright because it is a "minority" player on the European stage.

"Some people tell me that content is national, they tell me the solutions lie in my backyard [but] this is not right, content is international," he added.

"Solutions lie internationally. For us, solutions lie in Europe. The UK must continue to encourage and support wider innovation and improve access to copyright works. But we can do relatively little domestically. A great deal of policy making is harmonised at European level and progress simply can't be made without a European consensus," Lammy said.

"The UK often finds itself in the minority in Europe when it comes to copyright issues. I want to see the UK play a greater role in influencing European action."

He added that while models needed to be developed to make legitimate content attractive to all, consumers needed to understand they had to pay to make the system work.

"If the world wants to continue to enjoy works that are protected by copyright, then the world must be a paying customer," he said. "Consumers have built a digital culture based on access, even if it cuts across the law. I want a world where rights holders will be paid for their efforts. For me, the balance must always tilt strongly in favour of freedom. But freedom to access material is not the same thing as access for free."

Lammy added that the current copyright system was out of step with the digital age and that government and businesses had "sleepwalked" into the piracy situation.

"The mechanisms by which copyright operates can be too complex. I don't want to see copyright, in the UK, or anywhere in the world, lagging so far behind technology that it loses relevance," he said. "I don't want to see a regime based on arbitrary rules. It must ensure that it allows limited copying for personal use of lawfully obtained material. I want to see this made possible rather than discouraged."

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