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Reviewed 27 March 2012

Copyright licensing is not yet fully fit for purpose for the digital age - the UK could do better still

Richard Hooper today published his diagnostic report on how fit for purpose is copyright licensing for the digital age. This is the first phase of the Digital Copyright Exchange Feasibility Study.

Today’s report concludes that relative to other countries in the world the UK’s copyright licensing processes compare well. But there is much that still could be improved.

Working closely with the creative industries themselves, Hooper identified a number of problems such as:

  • Complexity in the way rights are licensed
  • The complexity of organisations in terms of the numbers involved in licensing rights
  • Less availability of repertoire (e.g. films) in digital services over the internet than in the physical world of CDs and DVDs
  • Difficulty in finding out who owns the rights to particular content in specific countries
  • Difficulty in paying creators fair and accurate shares of the revenues created by their copyright content
  • Difficulty and expense in licensing copyright for the high volume/low value transactions that characterise the digital world
  • A lack of common standards and a common language for sharing rights information between creative sectors and across national borders.

Richard Hooper said:

“This has been a tremendously interesting period of work and we have had the fullest cooperation from individuals and organisations across the creative industries.

“I am pleased to report, on the basis of the evidence presented to us, that copyright licensing processes in the UK rank amongst the leading countries in the world.

“But there is still a range of problems with copyright licensing that needs attention and sorting them out will, I have no doubt, strengthen the UK’s leadership role in creative industries even further.

“If, in the second phase of the work, we can find industry-led solutions to these problems, and I am confident that we can, then innovation and economic growth across the UK’s creative and technology sectors will be further accelerated.

“And the British consumer will be able to enjoy an even wider range of sensibly priced and easy to use digital services (films, tv, music etc) over the mobile and fixed internet. As a result, any justification for copyright infringement/piracy by consumers will be yet further weakened.”

Notes to editors

  • Richard Hooper was appointed by Business Secretary Vince Cable to lead an independent feasibility study into a Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE) on 22 November.
  • Today’s report is based evidence collected over a period of three months from December 2011 to March 2012.
  • Evidence was collected through 90 face to face meetings with individuals, collecting societies, record labels, trade associations, lobby groups and others from across the creative industries, and this was supplemented with 117 responses to the Call for Evidence issued on 4 January 2012.
  • Phase two of the feasibility study will begin in April and will consider a range of solutions to the problems identified including a DCE. The recommendation for a DCE was put forward by Professor Ian Hargreaves in his report Digital Opportunity: a Review of Intellectual Property and Growth PDF document(1.38Mb), which can be found in the Hargreaves implementation area on the IPO website.
  • Richard Hooper will report his recommendations to Government before the 2012 summer Parliamentary Recess.
  • For further information please email
  • The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is within the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) and is responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
  • Its role is to help manage an IP system that encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users, promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the knowledge-based economy.
  • It operates in a national and an international environment and its work is governed by national and international law, including various international treaties relating to Intellectual Property (IP) to which the United Kingdom is a party.
  • For further information, please contact Veena Mapara on 0207 215 5614.
  • For emergency media calls out-of-hours please contact the duty press officer at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on +44 (0) 207 215 3505.

Date of release: 27 March 2012