There’s plenty of discussion in the British music industry about the government’s announcement yesterday of its plans for copyright reform.
They include the anticipated launch of a digital copyright exchange by the end of 2013 to make licensing easier, as well as proposals to finally legalise format-shifting – including people transferring their digital music collection to “a private cloud”.
“We feel we have struck the right balance between improving the way consumers benefit from copyright works they have legitimately paid for, boosting business opportunities and protecting the rights of creators,” said business secretary Vince Cable. However, the reforms have received a mixed welcome from music industry bodies.
The BPI cautiously welcomed the plans: “We support a sensible updating of copyright for the digital age and will look at the detail of [the] government’s proposals, to be published next year, to ensure that they support licensing of innovative new services and do not have unintended consequences for the UK’s economically important creative sector,” said boss Geoff Taylor.
The Musicians Union and BASCA have come out hard against the plans though, specifically the lack of an ‘iPod tax’ on devices capable of holding copied music.
“These manufacturers are already paying for patents on each device sold, and yet the act of copying onto these devices the ‘software’ the consumer is most interested in – music – is not currently generating any income for musicians, unless it is through legitimate download purchases,” said the MU’s John Smith.
BASCA’s Sarah Rodgers added that “An exception to copyright, without compensation, for us, is employment without payment”.
Expect this row to rumble on for a while yet, although the difficulty for the ‘iPods should be taxed’ campaign, increasingly, is that music is listened to on more general devices like smartphones and tablets, where the argument that music creators should get a levy on device sales may be met with questions about why other creators shouldn’t get the same benefit.