The Hargreaves Review makes frequent references to the relationship between copyright and competition, particularly as regards copyright licensing. The Review also says the IPO should have powers to make recommendations to the competition authorities.
I agree. In fact, for anyone thinking about a legal career in the world of digital media, I would say that getting your head around how competition law applies to copyright and IP rights is as important as understanding the rights themselves.
But here's my thought for the day: the real action in this area is not around whether rights holders and their agents such as collecting societies are exercising rights in a way which is inconsistent with competition law. Actually, it's all about platforms.
It's no coincidence that Google has just hired 3 top US law firms to defend the company amid various state and federal antitrust probes. Google's search and advertising business is currently under anti-trust scrutiny by the FTC in the US, by the European Commission and by national regulators too (e.g. by the Cartel Office in Germany).
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported this week that the FTC is investigating a complaint just filed by Consumer Watchdog, an anti-trust advocacy group, against Facebook for insisting that games company Zynga and others must use Facebook Credits as the exclusive payment platform.
And let's not forget Twitter who are also running into anti-trust flack for trying to restrict what 3rd party developers can do with Twitter data.
Sure, much of this focus is in the US and concerns dominant players. But the big point is that in the digital space the real competition law action is going to be around the platforms and gatekeepers.
Have a great week.