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Intellectual Property Office sets out copyright objectives for next four years

By | Published on Wednesday 11 May 2016

Intellectual Property Office

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office yesterday published a policy paper called ‘IP Enforcement 2020’ which “sets out how the government will make effective, proportionate and accessible enforcement of IP rights a priority for the next four years”. Good times.

The IPO says that it plans to work with relevant industries, law enforcement agencies and governments around the world to “address the multiple and growing challenges posed by IP infringement and counterfeiting”.

Most of the challenges to be considered are the classics, so tackling unlicensed downloads and streams, cracking down on the trade of counterfeit goods, and enabling IP owners to enforce their rights more quickly. And the customary “we really ought to educate people about intellectual property” thing is in there too.

The report also bigs up the so called ‘follow the money’ approach to limiting copyright infringement online by cutting off the income streams of piracy operations. This has been a preferred anti-piracy tactic of the IPO – and especially the City Of London Police’s IP Crime Unit – for quite some time, and this strategy looks set to remain a priority.

But for a music industry that is currently so vocal about YouTube and safe harbours, the most important commitments in the report relate to takedown systems and “platform liability”. On that point the IPO says it will “review notice and takedown procedures to improve and streamline the process” and also “push within Europe for clarification of the current EU rules around platform liability”. Which is code for safe harbours.

Launching the policy document, IP minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe said yesterday: “As a country famed for its creators and innovators, we know that … intellectual property rights lie at the heart of the economic and creative wellbeing of the UK. But these crucial IP rights are undermined and devalued on all fronts by infringement, whether by the wholesale sharing of digital content through myriad file sharing and streaming websites, deliberate copying of patent or design protected products, or the importation and sale of counterfeit goods on a massive scale”.

“That is why as a government we have made effective, proportionate and accessible enforcement of IP rights a priority”, she continued. “And this document sets out a roadmap for how we will address this challenge. The challenge is to keep up the momentum we have, bring others in the UK, Europe and further afield along with us, and ensure that we continue to improve the outlook for the UK, for creators of all kinds, and for those looking to invest in the UK as a great place to do business”.

Copyright law is already being reviewed in Europe, of course, as part of the Digital Single Market initiative, though the IPO’s policy document opens the door for UK rights ones to continue pushing for the reforms they want at a Whitehall/Westminster level, even if ultimately key issues – like safe harbours – are controlled at a European level.

You can download the IPO policy document here.