The final report of the Hargreaves Commission is now available. The commission was appointed by the Cameron government.
The Commission appeared unable to directly recommend that the UK adopt fair use provisions of the kind already found in the law of the United States and the Philippines, and more recently Israel and Chile because the UK is bound by an EU directive which limits copyright exceptions to a narrow set. Because of the constraints imposed by the EU the Commission suggests that the UK engage in a long term process to create a flexible provision in EU copyright law that will enable new uses. It also recommends that within the constraints of EU directive the UK should introduce exceptions for research, format shifting, digitisation by libraries, and parody. The Commission also recommends that licensing terms should not be allowed to trump legislative exceptions.
The report recommends that the UK should not follow the European Patent Office in ignoring the empirical evidence about software patents. The UK should therefore continue to refuse to grant patents over software that does not have a technical effect.
The Report is entitled “Digital Opportunity”. The question is whether the UK government will take that opportunity. As the Hargreaves Report itself points out some of the recommendations were made five years ago by the Gouwers Review of Copyright but they were never implemented. Instead the Labour party government ignored it and passed controversial legislation demanded by multinational record companies.
Just because good sense is available for governments doesn’t mean that they follow it.