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Incorporation of Fair Use Provisions in the UK

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Incorporation of Fair Use Provisions in the UKIn a recent speech, David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom UK voiced his opinion on the current copyright laws of the country. He admitted that the outdated laws are a hindrance to innovations on the internet, a place where an approach of no permission is best. Cameron said that by UK law requires change which will lead to a turn in the UKs approach to business and industrial policy. He further expressed his desire to not just gather champion industries but to formulate the circumstances and conditions for spontaneous innovation, and most importantly all this could be created in East London. He further explained that London has everything it needs to also become a Silicon Valley, which is the world’s leading hub for technological growth and modernization.

The key element is to change the IP laws of UK as they are somewhat restrictive. The laws do not have flexible fair use conditions like that found in the laws of the United States. Cameron elaborated this by explaining how Google founders had said that if they were in Britain they would have never been able to start their company as the copyright system of the country does not allow certain innovative aspects that are required by the Google services. However in America, companies have more space to breathe in terms of producing new devices and services because of the fair use provisions.

Cameron then went on to say that the laws are being reviewed already and the Intellectual Property Office will release the details of the review by the spring of 2011.  Briefly, the review will take a look at the impediments to new business models that are internet based, the costs of getting permission from right holders, and see what can be learned from the fair use laws of the US, specifically covering the instances in which material that is copyright maybe used without the authorization of the rights holder.

But the question is whether the review of laws will actually bring a positive change and setting for innovation, Open Rights Group member Jim Killock is doubtful. He believes that fair use application in the present European law is impractical, if not wholly impossible. This is because the European Union copyright has an extensive list of user rights such as format shifting, parodies and backups. In addition, each European country selects the rights to permit in their respective laws.

Cameron’s idea has been well received by many, though the technology ground seems to be planted by mostly American organizations such as Intel, Google, Facebook and BT, who will set up their development and research bases in East London. Though this may not be a Silicon Valley, it is at least a show of dedication to innovation.

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