From October 2016 to March 2017 the team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Tian Lu and Hayleigh Bosher.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Alliance reflects on priorities for new governments: Part II

The second chunk of today's Alliance conference [click here for a note on the first Part, which is more UK-centric] commenced with two further press-button poll questions leaning towards developments in the EU.  First,

Whose views and actions do you consider to have the most impact on business in the UK?

  • The UK government
  • The European Commission
  • The European Parliament
The audience responses were on-screen for so short a time that this Kat couldn't even read them all, let alone write them down, but there was a 45.8% vote for the UK government, rather more for the European Commission and virtually no vote at all for the European Parliament. Then

What's the best approach to addressing the problems of publishers in the digital age? [this verbal formulation may be subject to correction]
  • Licensing 61.8%
  • Revision of the Copyright Directive 38.2%
There then followed a discussion between Lord Clement-Jones and Arlene McCarthy MEP about trends and sentiments in the EU and, in particular, in the European Parliament itself.  In short, the British are unpopular in the European Parliament, which is itself shortly facing elections and therefore more vulnerable to populist gestures than it might be otherwise. Within the EU Parliament itself, support for the creative pro-content agenda comes more from Italy and France, which also rely considerably on the creative industries, rather than from Germany which, having such a strong bias towards manufacturing, is not unsympathetic to the need to protect creative content but simply has interests that lie elsewhere.

Arlene spoke frankly about the failure of ACTA and the problems of dealing with energetic, highly-motivated opponents; she emphasised the need to build coalitions, to improve channels of communications between like-minded groups, to express one's ideas clearly and get them out there ahead of one's opponents.  More education is needed, not just for the public but for people entering the creative industries and hoping to develop a career there.  It may be that copyright does not need to be changed and that business solutions can be developed to deal with what might be seen as legal problems.

Next came the bit we'd all been waiting for -- European Commissioner for Internal Marketing and Services Michel Barnier (whom you can follow on Twitter, as this Kat does, at @MBarnierEU). IP is the bedrock of Europe, the Commissioner stressed, emphasising the importance the interlocking issues of protection, access to content and information and diversity.   Many roadblocks to online business are quite unrelated to copyright -- but that doesn't mean that copyright can act as a roadblock itself.

Turning to the unitary patent, M Barnier described it -- and the new EU patent package -- as a trigger for the encouragement of innovation and growth. However, "there is no room for complacency. We have to make it work". So far only Austria has ratified it; others must do so soon.  Next in Europe's IP toolbox is the trade mark, where reform proposals are on the table and should be accelerated because there is no time to lose in improving the system.  IP enforcement must be tightened: the loss of ACTA was a "bruising lesson" that you can't conduct negotiations behind doors, without informing consumers and allowing for debate.  The last tool in the box is trade secrets. There is a growing concern about theft of secrets, especially through cyber-theft. An initiative for action in this field will be made soon, probably before the end of this year. 

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