By Daniel Hunter

New legislative measures to update the UK’s copyright licensing system were announced today (Monday), to help strengthen the system and boost its contribution to the economy and society.

New clauses to be included in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will be published later this week. They would:

- allow the creation of a future ‘orphan works’ scheme to open access to valuable material that currently can’t be licensed or used
- put in place a voluntary regime for extending collective licensing to help reduce complexities in the system
- reserve a power to introduce statutory codes of conduct for collecting societies if they fail to operate to minimum standards.

“It is vital that we make the most of our creative industries, boosting their contribution to the economy while ensuring protection of the rights holders. The copyright licensing system has been behind the times and we need to modernise and make it fit for the 21st century," Business Minister Norman Lamb said.

“The measures we plan to introduce as soon as possible would make it easier for those seeking access to, and use of, copyrighted works. Freeing up so-called ‘orphan works’ will allow use of works for the first time, making the most of untapped economic and creative potential. Extending licensing arrangements for collective societies, whilst ensuring rights holders are protected, will also help maximise the benefit for the UK’s world-class creative industries.”

In addition, the Government plans to introduce a power to implement a recent EU Directive on the term of protection for sound recordings in a way that keeps the UK’s current strong criminal penalties for copyright infringement.

The draft clauses will be published later this week and will be subject to scrutiny as part of the Bill’s progress through Parliament. These measures were developed by Government in response to recommendations from the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property, which was published in August 2011.

Harnessing the value and making the most of the UK’s intellectual property is a vital element of a vibrant and modern economy. The measures outlined today will form an important part of the Government’s growth strategy, making sure the UK is one of the best places to start, finance and grow a business.

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