Deja vu or unfinished business? The PM has been persuaded to take yet another look at UK copyright laws. Here's the story on BBC online.
So talking about the US, the PM tells us "Over there, they have what are called 'fair-use' provisions, which some people believe gives companies more breathing space to create new products and services.
"So I can announce today that we are reviewing our IP laws, to see if we can make them fit for the internet age. I want to encourage the sort of creative innovation that exists in America."
I don't buy it. We have thriving creative industries and there's little sign that the absence of further exceptions to UK copyright law, especially a US style 'fair use' exception, is having a 'chilling effect'. Of course, start-ups need encouragement but I haven't spoken to many Internet entrepreneurs who have said to me: "It's great. We've got all the bank finance and other capital we need. Complying with all the laws and regulations affecting new business is as breeze. The only thing stopping us from being the next Facebook is UK Copyright Law." I think not.
Sure, there are plenty of intermediaries - search and aggregators - who'd like a more relaxed copyright regime but the real risk is that unwarranted change will undermine one of the industries - the creative industries -where the UK is world class and which are an increasingly significant contributor to UK GDP.
But it seems that it's a case of 'here we go again' with 'Gowers Mark II'. For my dedicated readers, you may recall the Gowers Review of 2006/7 that had proposals to reform UK copyright law to deal with, amongst other things, exceptions to cover parody and private copying. There were also suggestions about introducing a US style 'fair use' exception.
No-one should imagine that this will be a quick fix, bearing in mind that introductions of a US style 'fair use' exception would need legislative change at the EU level.
But if we are going to have a review, then let's look at what is really needed to empower copyright in the 21st century. It's not about tinkering with the legal framework. Sure, there are some issues that do need solutions, such as orphan works. But there are solutions available. But fundamentally, the legal framework for UK copyright is 'fit for purpose'.
Instead, it is about encouraging the development of open standards and the implementation of software solutions built on them which make it quick, easy and painless for producers and consumers to locate works, clear rights (with payment where appropriate) and then to create or enjoy copyright works of all descriptions. This is what's really needed and it will bring benefits to everyone in the copryight 'value chain', especially authors, artists, photographers, illustrators and other creators too.