Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, December 03, 2007

British Library calls (again) for rebalancing copyright law

Balance in IP “not working”, a press release from the British Library, November 30, 2007.  Excerpt:

The British Library’s Chief Executive Lynne Brindley has chaired a significant debate about Intellectual Property in the digital age and called for the IP debate to move beyond music to include society, culture and the economy....

Affirming the British Library’s stance Lynne Brindley told the invited audience: “We believe at the British Library that the debate on intellectual property is too heavily focussed on teenagers, music and the consumer industries. It is important to realise that many areas of our society, culture and economy are affected by IPRs....It seems to me, as CEO of the British Library and therefore representing the researcher in part, that the balance that is referred to here, between private rights and public domain, between free competition and monopoly rights – is not working; it is being undermined by a number of things from our perspective including:

  • A restrictive use of new technology (Digital Rights Management)
  • Poor or outmoded legislation (i.e. too complex, increasing durations and harmonising durations ever upward etc)
  • The public interest aspects of copyright being undermined and made irrelevant by private contract

“I think we at the British Library, echoing the intent of the Adelphi Charter, believe that while market economics are very important, the public interest also needs to be actively protected – this can be done in many different ways but one important, if not the most important way, is through enlightened and well informed legislation balancing the conflicting public and private interests that seek to create and inform our IP regime. There is a need for real innovation in business models and for the legislation to become fit-for-purpose for the digital age.”

PS:  For background, see the British Library's IP Manifesto from September 2006 and the Adelphi Charter (a model of balance, including a call for OA to scientific research) from October 2005.