David Prosser: Hargreaves Review is just the beginning
Thursday 19 May 2011
Outlook As he was preparing to unveil the findings of his five-month investigation into Britain's intellectual property and copyright laws yesterday, Ian Hargreaves was asked how he could be confident his recommendations would not end up gathering dust in Whitehall, the fate of a string of similar reviews over the past decade. Ever the optimist, Professor Hargreaves said he hoped the Government would have the courage of its convictions this time.
Maybe it will – and the report's many sensible conclusions certainly deserve ministers' support. But the problem is that this will not be sufficient for Professor Hargreaves's recommendations to become law: in many of the areas considered by his investigations, Britain gave up its legislativepower to the European Union many moons ago.
The concept of a unified patent system, for example, requires the support of every member of the EU – a unanimity we have not yet been able to achieve. Only last month, the European Court of Justice ruled the latest proposals for just such a system were illegal following challenges from countries worried about language issues.
Similar problems affect copyright law, another key area of focus for the Hargreaves Review. Its recommendation for a single digital copyright exchange is realisable, but the new body is likely to find itself faced with all sorts of knotty legal headaches related to European law (and some worldwide agreements too).
The Hargreaves Review was launched when the Prime Minister was spooked by a warning from Google that had it been a British start-up, our antiquated intellectual property laws would have prevented it becoming a success.
As it happens, Google's ownsubmission to the review rather undermined that thesis, but the bigger problem now is that Professor Hargreaves' big ideas cannot be introduced unilaterally in this country. If David Cameron isserious about reform, the next step – and a far tougher one than asking for an investigation – is to fight for an EU-wide agreement.
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
British are sexually uptight, dirty and drink too much – according to Spanish book
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...
£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...
£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...