Fast track copyright and IP reforms, Tech companies say

London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ technology community has called on the Cameron government to fast track copyright and intellectual property (IP) reform or risk seeing recent support shown to be ‘little more than hype’.

The Coalition for a Digital Economy (COADE), a lobby group for the technology start-ups and businesses located around London’s Old Street, has addressed an open letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and other senior ministers urging them to implement reforms proposed by Professor Ian Hargreaves.

The group, which began 15 months ago and is led by six technology entrepreneurs, says the government must take action soon to ensure that the ‘strong potential for digital businesses’ to help grow the sluggish British economy is realised.

Cameron announced a review of the copyright and IP legislation during a speech launching the East London Tech City vision in Shoreditch, London, in November last year. He appointed Hargreaves, an academic and journalist, to lead the review.

His report Digital Opportunity, which was published in May, found the UK’s IP and copyright laws are holding businesses back from taking opportunities both domestically and internationally. He found that current legislation was ‘obstructing innovation and economic growth in the UK’, especially for digital businesses.

Hargreaves outlined ten recommendations, including the creation of a Digital Copyright Exchange by the end of next year that will act as a ‘one-stop online shop’ for business to seek clearance to use copyrighted content.

In the open letter, COADE calls for most of the recommendations to become law ‘preferably before the end of the year, and in no event later than the end of the 2011-2012 Parliamentary session’. More complex reforms, such as the Digital Copyright Exchange, should be implemented ‘in the shortest timeframe possible’.

The letter says, ‘We have been delighted by the consistent rhetoric of this government highlighting how crucial Britain’s digital economy is to the country’s future, and we agree wholeheartedly that the sector must play a vital role in supporting the country’s recovery.

‘It is now time for the Government’s fine words to be put into meaningful action if the sector is to flourish and play its role in helping to drive economic growth in the United Kingdom.’

COADE chairman Jeff Lynn explains that the group is ‘not yet frustrated’ with the government over the proposed reforms, but has released the letter to ensure ministers follow through with their public commitments to support the digital sector.

Lynn adds, ‘If the Government fails to implement these reforms, it will show Silicon Roundabout that all their supposed support has been little more than hype, and that they won’t even take the simplest of concrete measures to help enable a world-class digital economy in Britain.

‘Given the importance of facilitating economic growth in this climate and the strong potential for digital businesses to do just that, such neglect would be tragic and really rather odd.’

Todd Cardy

Todd Cardy

Todd was Editor of GrowthBusiness.co.uk between 2010 and 2011 as well as being responsible for publishing our digital and printed magazines focusing on private equity and venture capital. Connect with...

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