Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by International Association of Music Libraries

  IAML(UK & Irl) is the professional association which represents the interests of some 250 institutional and individual members involved in the provision of music library services throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is a cross-sectoral organisation whose members include public, academic, national, special and broadcasting music libraries, as well as representatives of music publishing and library supply. IAML(UK & Irl) welcomes the opportunity to comment on this subject as its members have a long history of upholding copyright law while recognising that there must be a balance between right holders and user interests.

Creative industries

  What are the "creative industries"? There is a danger of thinking of the creative industries as mainly large concerns such as the major record companies and music publishers. The term should also encompass the small, independent companies, whose businesses are based on exploiting out of copyright material which would not otherwise be made available by large companies; these include individuals such as transfer engineers and scholarly groups such as composer organisations and specialist archives. It could also be argued that institutions such as museums, libraries and educational establishments are, themselves, part of the whole creative industry, as they produce and support our present and future creators. Therefore the needs of these institutions must be taken into account in this and any similar enquiries.

The impact upon creative industries of recent and future developments in digital convergence and media technology

  There is no doubt that technology is moving very quickly. Some industry bodies complain about the negative effect on their business, but it should not be forgotten that many of the larger companies are themselves the ones spearheading technical developments which allow better and better reproduction to take place.

The effects upon the various creative industries of unauthorised reproduction and dissemination of creative content, particularly using new technology; and what steps can or should be taken—using new technology, statutory protection or other means—to protect creators

  Large-scale piracy is undoubtedly a threat to bona-fide companies and their associates. Small-scale copyright contravention does, of course, take place and librarians always take care to uphold the legal rights of creators and remind users of the law. There are, however, limitations and exceptions in place to aid creativity and these must also be upheld. A successful information society cannot be maintained when society is deprived by technical means of longstanding exceptions to copyright provided by the legislation.

  Technical protection measures are, in theory, able to protect creators' rights. Unfortunately, recent examples of DRMs within the music industry have shown that these can instead damage the security of consumers' computers; this is surely an invasion of privacy against people making legal use of recordings and represents interference with their private property; systems which have this effect should not be permitted. Such systems can also prevent people with disabilities from accessing information to which they have a legal and moral right. In the interests of equality, and to uphold the relevant laws, DRMs must not hinder lawful access to copyright works by people with disabilities who are entitled to an accessible version. The simplest solution to this legal problem would be to make legislative provision allowing anyone to circumvent a DRM system for the sole purpose of making a lawful use of a work. In practice this would bring about rapid co-operation between the publishers and the associations representing people with disabilities. In the longer term, manufacturers must continue to search for systems which are less problematic for rightful users.

  With reference to creators, large companies often refer to creators' rights to mean themselves rather than the real creators: authors, composers, artists etc. In many cases the rights of these companies are "related rights" which should not override the interests of the original creators.

The extent to which a regulatory environment should be applied to creative content accessed using non-traditional media platforms

  Non-traditional platforms should not erode users' rights and permitted acts any more than traditional ones. A regulatory environment must not, in effect, give permanent copyright protection as some DRMs threaten to do.

Where the balance should lie between the rights of creators and the expectations of consumers in the context of the BBC's Creative Archive and other developments

  Parliament has decided, in conformity with international law, that there should be a balance in copyright law between right holders and users for the public good. Exceptions and limitations to copyright have been introduced as a counterbalance to the monopoly right and to enable creativity to flourish.

  In recent years the balance has been seen to shift more in favour of right holders; it would be dangerous to let this trend continue. There must always be balance, as accessibility leads to further creativity. Fair dealing has long been accepted as vital to education and the increase of knowledge; accessibility to information must not be eroded purely because of the perceived dangers of improved technology: the information is far more important than the medium.

28 February 2006

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