As a company which empowers ISPs, Entanet monitors developments in copyright law.
There’s a great quote from Steve Jobs:
“From the earliest days of Apple I realized that we thrived when we created intellectual property. If people copied or stole our software, we’d be out of business. If it weren’t protected, there’d be no incentive for us to make new software or product designs. If protection of intellectual property begins to disappear, creative companies will disappear or never get started. But there’s a simpler reason: it’s wrong to steal. It hurts other people, and it hurts your own character.”
Copyright matters to everyone in business. While the Communications Data Bill plainly met its demise as marked in the Queen’s Speech this week, another catchily-titled bill, picking up its cousin’s theme of leaving those pesky details to slink through later by Statutory Instrument, gained Royal Assent.
What? You weren’t watching the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act? Well, why would you? Perhaps as a young business you don’t consider yourself an enterprise yet. Copyright reform was after all buried sixth in a list of nine highly diverse goals of this document.
To bring you up to speed, a brief question: Have you or any of your customers published photographs or code snippets on the Internet? If the answer’s yes, then prepare for them to be used, without any compensation, by companies anywhere in the world. Provided information identifying the owner is missing (and metadata can be easy to strip out), a user of your work can act as if they are you, including wholesaling it. The only way to prevent this is to proactively register your work (if you can find a registry).
If this feels like a strange reversal of everything you knew about how copyright works, you’d be right in that feeling. As David Bailey put it, “Why can’t copyright be dealt with properly in a proper Copyright Bill?”
If you’re tempted to dismiss this concern as alarmist crackpot nonsense, consider this: in January those well-known radicals the Associated Press, British Pathé, Getty Images, ITN, the Press Association and Thomson Reuters submitted a notice to file a pre-emptive judicial review against this legislation.
If the government isn’t protecting the small creative businesses who may be your connectivity clients, who benefits? More than one commentator has noted that the review of “Intellectual Property and growth”, chaired by Ian Hargreaves which preceded this bill acquired the tag “the Google review” early on and it has stuck. Notably, Google’s European head of communications is married to the prime minister’s director of strategy, and Google’s lobbying appears to have been successful in this instance.
- Guardian: David Cameron’s ‘Google-model’ vision for copyright under fire
- The Register: How Google lost the trust of Europe’s data protection authorities
The price of freedom, so it is said, is eternal vigilance. We all need to keep reading the miscellaneous sections of obscure bills, and make our voice heard.
Have your say!
Are we unduly pessimistic? Is the government really helping your small business customers with this change? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
- The Economist: Orphan works
- IPKat: Enterprise and regulatory reform bill
- The Register: Instagram Act explained
When we went to press the Bill was being prepared for publication at: Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. However, you’ll find the offending s.79 under Part 6; “Miscellaneous and general” once it is available.
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