HM Government provides £150,000 to fund the Copyright Hub project

As Iona promptly reported on The 1709 Blog, yesterday UK IP Minister Lord Younger announced that HM Government has provided a £150,000 funding to create a one-stop shop website designed to make it easier for consumers to get information about rights ownership and copyright licences.

Does this ring a bell? Of course it does, says Merpel, as all this has to do with that mysterious (at least, to many) creature known as the Copyright Hub.

IPKat readers will in fact remember that in his 2011 Review of IP and Growth Professor Ian Hargreaves recommended that the UK should establish an industry-led solution to improve copyright licensing. At that time, he estimated that it could add up to £2.2 billion a year to the UK economy by 2020, with a particular benefit to the creative industries. What Hargreaves had in mind was further elaborated the following year by Richard Hooper and Ros Lynch in their independent report.

Merpel has often thought that mermaids
were creatures 
less mysterious than the Copyright Hub
As clarified in the press release which accompanied yesterday's announcement, the Hub (which will be designed and built by industry) will act as a source of information about rights ownership to support open and competitive markets for copyright licences. This will cut costs for businesses by creating a more efficient online market place where those looking to use copyright works in new creations or services. So, for example a company providing a multimedia service for a wedding, will have access to a greater range of licensing options, through the Hub, in a straightforward online transaction.

As explained by Lord Younger,

Databases of copyright works such as those held by collecting societies and publishers, and designs such as the Register of Designs at the IPO already exist. However, government has listened to concerns that consumers are unsure who they should go to if they are looking for information about obtaining a licence, particularly if multiple rights are involved.

The funding announced today will help industry to start building the Hub website sooner and engage with schools and Further Education colleges to help streamline educational licensing. Above all, it chimes with government's aim to provide a further portal to assist businesses to grow faster and to boost our creative industries.”

According to enthusiastic Richard Hooper, Director of Copyright Hub Ltd, “The Copyright Hub until today has been just an idea. Today it begins to become an exciting reality."

Very well, says Merpel -- but what do readers think?

HM Government provides £150,000 to fund the Copyright Hub project HM Government provides £150,000 to fund the Copyright Hub project Reviewed by Eleonora Rosati on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Rating: 5


  1. I note that the press release doesn't explicitly say where the money is coming from. However, the most recently published IPO Steering Board minutes suggest that the BIS would like the IPO to provide it, as it is currently generating a surplus. Certain of the steering board members have questioned the vires of such a procedure, the PO trading fund order only permitting the IPO's income to be used for the "operations of the office", but the minutes which ought to refer to the outcome of the vires issue have yet to be published.

    As the new copyright organisation, Copyright Hub Ltd, is clearly not part of the IPO, then prima facie it would be contrary to law to use the IPO's funds to finance it. There seems to be pressure to amend trading fund conditions in the long term, and recent events have demonstrated that the Government is quite prepared to retrospectively amend laws that the courts may find it has broken.

    From the Steering Board Minutes of 17 July 2012

    5.11. Commenting on the impact of Richard Hooper's presentation on the DCE, Mr Austin stated that he had not appreciated the extent of the involvement of the international IP and copyright community that would be involved if the DCE was to work as Richard Hooper envisaged. It was clear that his proposals, if adopted were capable of leading the way internationally, as there did not seem to be any other country that was doing this. There was a consensus that having reached this report stage of the DCE work, it would be wrong to lose momentum. Clearly there was a need for a driver, and it was entirely logical that if the Steering Board and Executive Board have the necessary ambition, the IPO should try and implement this work and use some of its reserves for this purpose. If the IPO successfully led this work it would focus attention internationally into the UK, which seemed entirely the appropriate course of action. It was also suggested that the role of the IPO would be from a regulatory point of view. This was a major challenge that would need to involve commercial acumen the IPO did not have – a hybrid. For the moment the IPO had to take the lead and subsequently work out a more precise role.

    5.15 The DCE Report was due for publication at the end of July and the SB Awayday in September would provide the opportune time to take stock. It was noted that IPO surpluses were derived from patents, designs and trade marks and as such there could be a vires related issue.

    4 Action

    Mr Cappock and Mr Alty to consider the vires point and report back to SB.

    BIS Update

    7.5 The NEDs suggested that this appeared to be a “watering down” of the trading fund model which raised the question of how long the model would survive. This was a fair issue to raise but Mr Dodds confirmed that the trading fund model would be maintained.

    Extract from SI 1991 No 1796 (The Patent Office Trading Fund Order 1991)


    The operations to be funded by the fund are all the operations of the Patent Office, relating to or connected with:

    (a) copyright;

    including, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing–

    1. Operations concerned with the promotion and administration of legislation relating to the foregoing;

    2. [International matters]

    3. the provision and dissemination of information and the procurement of publicity and advertising relating to or in connection with the foregoing;

    4. operations incidental, conducive or ancillary to the operations described above.

  2. If they allow this, they should just amend the Trading Fund Order to say the money can be used for "Anything except paying Examiners"...

  3. Dear Eleonora,

    Perhaps you would be interested in telling the legal world about IMJV a complete flop which cost creators at least $15M allegedly

    We're to believe Gov can do better ?

    IMJV failed, more than a decade ago, because the 'local' databases' were inaccurate !!



  4. Will the CDPA 1988 be updated to accomodate the Copyright Hub and online licensing?

    I wonder if the EU will use the Copyright Hub for cross-border licensing or follow one of its four proposals on its recent proposal Directive.

  5. Still nothing about this on the IPO web site.


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