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Go-ahead for digital copyright exchange study

The UK government has announced plans for a feasibility study for a digital copyright exchange, proposed in response to confusion over rules covering the licensing of intellectual property rights on electronic media.

The study was announced by Richard Hooper, the former media industry executive appointed by business secretary Vince Cable to lead an investigation into the issues raised by the Hargreaves review of intellectual property published in May 2011.

Hargreaves proposed the concept of the exchange to boost economic growth in the creative sector by lowering the costs of licensing and giving businesses and consumers easier access to copyrighted material. He claimed that this could generate £2 billion of growth a year in the UK economy.

Hooper wrote to stakeholders in the creative industries on 4 January asking whether they agreed with the claim in the Hargreaves report that the current copyright licensing system was not “fit for purpose” in the digital age.

There will be two phases to the study. The first will look in greater detail at copyright issues relating to digital media, including setting out clear definitions of the roles played by creators, businesses, rights management organisations and consumers.

The second phase will examine and recommend solutions to those issues, including the use of a digital copyright exchange.

“This is a controversial issue with strongly held opinions across the spectrum – we are seeking hard data and evidence for or against the main, or parts of the, hypothesis. The responses I receive will help to inform my thinking as I move to develop a concept for workable licensing solutions to problems identified,” said Hooper.

Judith Wilcox, the minister responsible for intellectual property issues at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, added, “I would urge all interested parties to respond fully to this call for evidence. We need this feedback if we are to be in the best position to decide whether a Digital Copyright Exchange is a workable proposition.”