Select Committee on Innovation, Universities and Skills Second Report

6  Conclusions

72. We are surprised that a tribunal headed by a judge, who does the work unpaid and in his spare time, assisted by a barrister paid £316 a day and two lay assessors with no relevant technical expertise, functions to the level that it does. Changes to the operation of the Copyright Tribunal should have been made in the 1980s and it is to no one's credit that nothing has been done for 20 years, particularly the Patent Office/ Intellectual Property Office. We have now reached the point where reform is long overdue and needs to be made expeditiously to meet the challenge of digital technology. We have high expectations of the Intellectual Property Office to implement a programme of major changes in the operation of the Copyright Tribunal.

73. The 2007 IPO Review of the Copyright Tribunal set out a list of changes, most of which have support from both users and rightsholders. The recommendations in the Review that give us most concern are those that add to the Copyright Tribunal's workload or could be perceived to compromise its impartiality. These need to be re-examined. The Government now not only needs to publish its response to the Review but also to set out clearly how it expects the system to operate, the volume of cases it expects the Copyright Tribunal to handle and the average time that a dissatisfied user or rightsholder can expect a case to take. 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 orphan works. Given the increasing importance of intellectual property in the economy and the new challenges stacking up in this area, it is essential that serious attention be now paid to this rather neglected area of policy.

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