So, it’s out. The Hargreaves review has published its findings today. Unsurprisingly most of the leaks were well informed and it roughly says what I thought.
So far it seems to have achieved the remarkable feat of pleasing both the Cory Doctorows of this world (a passionate advocate of liberalising copyright) as well as, from what I’m hearing, many media companies and rightsholder groups.
Doubtless they’ll all come out with public positions soon but if it has managed to avoid polarising people that’s pretty impressive.
Things I like: government to stimulate, facilitate and help fund creation of a “Copyright Exchange” but not own or run it. The fundamental proposal is about seeing and realising the potential for growth. The idea of introducing US-style Fair Use into UK law also rejected, but with an interesting analysis of the arguments to explain the decision.
Things I like less: the idea that we need more exceptions more quickly. I just disagree with that. I think exceptions should serve the public good when the market fails to do so – to make a judgement about this the market has to have a chance to succeed. The examples of some (but not all) digital products coming with a “format shifting” licence – I think this is referring to things like DVDs which have a copy for your iPod on them, and some (but not all) ebooks coming with the ability to lend them to people is cited as a reason for more exceptions. I look at these things and see an industry in transition, moving to recognise the needs of the market. It might be confusing, but it’s also in flux. Exceptions would not help.
All in all, though, at first glance it’s a great piece of work. The omens were not good: the manner of the announcement, the incredibly tight timescales, the passionate and polarised views. I think it might be the first copyright review (the first of many) which actually achieves something.