Copyright laws are off balance

November 05, 2012

Multi-millionaire rockers such as Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Cliff Richard are set to benefit from recent changes to EU copyright legislation that extend the duration of copyright protection. But, already copyright lasts for too many years and is overly complex, argue researchers from the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM), Bournemouth University. Their research shows that a copyright policy that brings a better balance between the interests of creators, investors and consumers is needed.

To design better copyright policy - as in other policy areas - the UK Government requires robust evidence. As part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science 2012, the CIPPM will host an interactive one day event that brings together the differing perspectives held by policymakers, creative industry representatives, social scientists and specialists in copyright law on what constitutes evidence relevant to copyright policy.

"Copyright law is a topical and contentious area that affects a wide range of people who have differing views on copyright policy," states Ruth Towse, Professor of Economics of Creative Industries, Bournemouth University.

Economists view copyright law as essentially a benefit-cost 'trade-off' between the interests of the different parties. When representatives of creators and creative industries are asked to submit evidence to proposals for changes to copyright law, these representatives typically wish to present their own case rather than an objective view, Professor Towse's research shows.

"Usually in a response to a call for evidence persuasive statements from stakeholder interest groups that have sufficient funds for lobbying are received," Professor Towse points out. "And it's apparent from consultations that creative industries' interest groups regard copyright as a right that must be maintained, or preferably strengthened, rather than a privilege granted for the wider benefit of society. They are not that interested in objective evidence unless it supports their claims."

The event, 'What constitutes evidence for copyright policy' encourages various representative groups to lay out their approach when making make their case to policymakers on proposed changes to copyright law. "The discussion will inform participants and the public alike and demonstrate the clashes of interests that policy-makers have to reconcile. This is especially timely as the Government is committed to implementing a set of copyright reforms recommended by the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth in 2011," explains joint event organiser Professor Martin Kretschmer, Director of CIPPM.

"The digital revolution and the ever increasing power of the internet present a huge challenge to both copyright law and to those who rely on it as an incentive to creativity and as an income. It's important to everyone that copyright policy making is based on objective evidence in order to ensure a better balance between the interests of creators, investors and consumers" Professors Towse and Kretschmer conclude.
For further information contact:

Professor Ruth Towse
Telephone: 01822 810562

Professor Martin Kretschmer
Telephone: 07971 478234

ESRC Press Office:
Telephone 01793 413122

Jeanine Woolley
Telephone 01793 413119

Notes for editors

1. Event: What constitutes evidence for copyright policy?
Organiser: Proessor Ruth Towse and Prof. Martin Kretschmer, Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM), Bournemouth University
Date: 8 November 2012
Venue: 7th Floor, The Executive Business Centre (EBC), 89 Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth, BH8 8EB
Audience: Policymakers and general audience
For more information: What constitutes evidence for copyright policy?

2. Professor Martin Kretschmer is Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM), Business School, Bournemouth University. From 1 November 2012, he will be director of the AHRC/EPSRC/ESRC funded copyright centre CREATe at the University of Glasgow. Ruth Towse is Professor of Economics of Creative Industries in the Department of Law, Business School, Bournemouth University and Professor Emerita of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Both have been involved with research, consultancy and advice on copyright for governments and other organisations for many years.

3. The Festival of Social Science is run by the Economic and Social Research Council and takes place from 3-10 November 2012. With events from some of the country's leading social scientists, the Festival celebrates the very best of British social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future. This year's Festival of Social Science has over 180 creative and exciting events across the UK to encourage businesses, charities, government agencies, schools and college students to discuss, discover and debate topical social science issues. Press releases detailing some of the varied events and a full list of the programme are available at the Festival website. You can now follow updates from the Festival on twitter using #esrcfestival.

4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at

Economic & Social Research Council

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