Business, Innovation & SkillsSupplementary written evidence submitted by The Publishers Association

I am very grateful to the Committee for the opportunity to provide oral evidence to its on-going inquiry into the Hargreaves Review on 1 November. At the end of the session the Chair, Adrian Bailey MP, suggested witnesses write to the Committee with any further points which were not covered during the conversation. The Committee already has a full response from The Publishers Association covering our views of the main areas, but there are two points I would like to highlight which we did not have time to cover last week.

The Hargreaves Review places a strong emphasis on the need for robust evidence. Indeed, it is critical of the policy debate hitherto for not being sufficiently evidence based. And yet, in making the recommendation for two new exceptions to copyright at a European level (with regards to content mining and new technology) the Hargreaves Review gives no supporting evidence whatsoever. In fact, in “Supporting Document EE” the Review admits that it has “not quantified” the impact of either proposed exception. It is remarkable that the government has given its endorsement to a policy recommendation which neither the review team nor any government official has subjected to any economic analysis. The onus must always surely be with those proposing the radical change to provide the justification for a move from the status quo, and not left to those who will be adversely affected unilaterally to provide proof of its hypothetical impact.

Secondly, in our discussion we did not have the opportunity to rehearse the range of solutions to the problems which content miners are encountering. From our discussions with the research community, it would appear that the greatest difficulties lie around the complexity of licensing and the fact that different technologies are required on different platforms. We acknowledge that these difficulties exist, and believe that the best way to solve problems of complexity is to strive for clarity and simplicity. Publishers are working to develop streamlined licensing and—as far as is possible within competition law—ensure that licensing terms are modelled and easily understandable. This simplification of licences within a managed access system is a far more proportionate policy response than their proposed eradication under Hargreaves.

Finally, in reading the transcript of the session I noticed something I did not pick up at the time. Ben White from the British Library says to the Committee at Q186: “We have an issue that, in terms of international competitiveness, very large countries with very strong tech industries have introduced an exception or already had one, in terms of the US.” It may be that he has corrected this in his own review of the transcript, but it is our clear understanding that it is not fully correct to say that there is a data mining exception in the US. (As with the UK, this is not to say that data mining does not take place.)

Richard Mollet
Chief Executive

14 November 2011

Prepared 26th June 2012