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2017 LBF : “Copyright under Threat?”

March 30th, 2017 | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on 2017 LBF : “Copyright under Threat?”
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I just finished my travel to London Book Fare (LBF) two weeks ago and it was totally a new experience for me to get involved in the publishing industry in this way. Anyway, that was a busy and unforgettable time for me.

I attended “Copyright under Threat?”, a seminar in LBF 2017, which was held in the afternoon on 15th March. It lasted for an hour and consists of 3 speakers. I will focus on the first two:

William Bowes

General Counsel and Company Secretary at Cambridge University Press who also assists other departments on a range of Intellectual Property, Brand and Policy issues.

He mainly summarized the copyright situation in 2016, the development of copyright in recent years and British copyright issues etc. In the speech he mentioned that the social purpose of copyright is encouraging learning, and as publishers, we believe that  is achieved by supporting editorial impartiality, a fair days pay for a fair days work, access to high-quality education, the value of high-quality learning materials and a global framework for the exchange of knowledge, learning and research. In my opinion, it is because copyright has such a social purpose so that it has the value of being explored. Of course, this requires not only the publisher’s dedication but also need the government to actively promote this development process in order to achieve this purpose. Publishers should also help the government to solve these problems which may be encountered in the process because we all understand that copyright can be complicated to understand and manage. In addition, William is also involved in the current situation, like for the consumer, copyright prevents people exercising their “right” to learn, share, crate, collaborate and network. Indeed, when copyright protects the rights of authors, it also makes sharing less flexible. Compared with the consumer, copyright means more for the author and this problem is particularly reflected in the field of education. The limitations of copyright narrow the scope of educational reference and have a negative impact on better education. Therefore, we should also look for ways to ensure the definition of copyright can be more flexible.

Sarach Faulder

Chief Executive of Publishers Licensing Society, she was a partner at city law firm, specializing in copyright.

She gave the practical example of what exactly is going on at moment around copyright issues. Her speech was based on the Canadian education. In 2012, the Canadian government included education in the concept of “fair dealing” so that it quickly has a catastrophic impact on the educational publishing market in Canada. In just 2 years, the value of educational publishing sector dropped by 16% and since then, the number of imported US materials has continued to grow.  For an industry, such fluctuations are really worrying and I think whether it is “fair dealing” in Canada or “fair use” in the US, this is a new stage for copyright development (as they expanded the copyright exception). However, in the early stages of development, we still need to think about the risks of change and whether we have enough power to compensate for the loss caused by fluctuations when making decisions otherwise it will bring disaster to the industries involved, just like Canada. Educational publishers were forced to lay-off staff and Access Copyright (an institute in Canada) established a large fund to supporting this industry as a return.

Nowadays copyright does face a threat to some extent especially the development of digital technology also causes the positive and the negative impact on copyright. The three speakers set out a very professional explanation from the field of their work and left us with more thought.

by Ruoqi Sun