Select Committee on Innovation, Universities and Skills Second Report


The Copyright Tribunal was established as an independent tribunal in 1988 to adjudicate in commercial disputes between copyright owners and users, to ensure that the monopoly of the owners and their agents, the collecting societies, is not abused.

From the outset there have been complaints about delay and the cost of going to the Copyright Tribunal. We find it unacceptable that the Intellectual Property Office, which has administrative responsibility for the Copyright Tribunal, has failed to address these problems in the past 20 years. At last it is waking up to need for improvement, which is now pressing.

Intellectual property is of increasing importance in the UK economy and the spread of digital technology is leading individuals and small businesses and institutions—in contrast to large companies—to become increasingly engaged in the distribution of creative works. In 2007 the Intellectual Property Office commissioned Review of the Copyright Tribunal produced 30 far-reaching recommendations, most of which have support from both copyright owners and users. The Government now needs to publish its response to the Review and to initiate action. It also needs to develop, as a matter of urgency, an affordable, alternative service that individuals and small businesses and institutions can use as well as a policy on works where the copyright owner cannot be established or traced.

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Prepared 20 March 2008