Digital Top Stories

Industry welcomes Hooper’s initial thoughts on a Digital Copyright Exchange

By | Published on Wednesday 28 March 2012

Richard Hooper

Former OfCom man Richard Hooper yesterday published his first report on the proposed Digital Copyright Exchange, one of the grand proposals in the government’s Hargreaves review of copyright law last year.

As previously reported, the proposed Exchange would aim to lower the administrative costs of licensing content for digital services, and to give business and consumers easier access to copyright material, which is a great idea, but Hooper has been charged with the task of working out exactly how that might work. It’s thought he might recommend some sort of a formal government-run online information exchange, or some other industry-run system that would achieve his objectives.

Launching his provisional report on the matter, which mainly sets out the case for such an Exchange’s existence, Hooper told the BBC yesterday: “This will drive economic growth across the UK’s creative and technology industries. And if the media companies are seen to be doing everything possible to enable and encourage new digital services via easier and more streamlined copyright licensing, then that makes it easier for politicians to be even tougher against copyright infringement”.

The provisional report was welcomed by reps for the music industry, who noted in particular Hooper’s admission that, relative to other countries, the UK’s copyright licensing processes are already amongst the best, even if said processes could be simplified further. Quite how that latter bit can be achieved is what is still to come in the government’s big feasibility study, but UK Music said it looked forward to working with Hooper and his colleagues to look for solutions.

UK Music chief Jo Dipple told CMU: “I think everyone involved in this feasibility study has appreciated Richard Hooper’s thoughtful and methodical approach. Having revisited the question of whether copyright licensing is fit for the digital age, he has quite rightly recognised that the UK music industry is breaking new ground – licensing more digital music services than any other country and consistently supporting innovation. The report also identifies areas where music licensing can be improved. That is our aim too. UK Music looks forward to working with Richard Hooper [and his colleagues] throughout stage two of this study, and will be keen to highlight existing industry initiatives that have this specific goal in mind”.

Meanwhile speaking for the record industry, BPI boss Geoff Taylor added: “We support the overall conclusion of the study that whilst the licensing of digital music is more advanced in the UK than in most other countries, a voluntary and industry-led DCE could help to further enhance transparency and efficiency.  We welcome the acknowledgement that rights owners should remain free to choose the way in which they license their creative works, and look forward to working with Richard Hooper in Phase 2 to help design a DCE that will stimulate even more innovation in the UK’s world-leading digital music market”.

The next report is expected in July, meanwhile Hooper’s provisional thoughts are online here.