Copyright, Organ-grinders and Monkeys

January 14, 2014

My current focus is very much on the EU and the Eurozone. This is mainly because I am in Italy, currently resting my thighs from a hard day on the ski slope, and have spent a lot of my time thinking ‘How much? Goodness me’ in mountain restaurants. But it is also because SCL member Igor Mozolevsky has drawn my attention to my neglect of the EU Commission’s copyright consultation, which was well worth an SCL news item.

The consultation can be accessed {here:}. The EU Commission says that its public consultation is ‘part of its on-going efforts to review and modernise EU copyright rules. The consultation invites stakeholders to share their views on areas identified in the Communication on Content in the Digital Single Market (IP/12/1394), i.e. territoriality in the Single Market, harmonisation, limitations and exceptions to copyright in the digital age; fragmentation of the EU copyright market; and how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of enforcement while underpinning its legitimacy in the wider context of copyright reform.’ The last date for submissions is 5 February.

It is pretty wide-ranging and it could spell the end of civilisation as we know it.

My question is this: is it worth expending effort in seeking to influence UK copyright policy when we may be just a short period away from a revolution in copyright, stemming from a new EU Directive, EU Regulation or worse? Is this a context in which the UK Government is soon to become the monkey to the EU’s organ-grinder?

You have probably guessed my view from the inflated nature of the question. While I think that it is well worth responding to the EU Commission’s consultation, I think the Commission is flying a kite that is going to be hit by all sorts of bolts of lightning. The recent experience we have had with data protection suggests that the idea of EU-wide agreement on yet wider control of copyright across the EU is fantasy. I am not suggesting that the Commission is floating bad ideas (some kites float) but I do think that the lobbying efforts should still be focused on the UK government for the time being.