The Hargreaves report on UK copyright reform sounds pretty sensible: it endorses a Fair Dealing exception to copyright for parody; a format-shifting exemption to legalize loading MP3 players; and an orphan works clearing house to make it easy to clear rights for works whose creators can't be identified. The devil will be in the details (especially in for orphan works, where a corrupt process could make it easy for big companies to rip off creators by claiming they couldn't find them), but this is some pretty sane-sounding stuff:
Last year's viral hit Newport State of Mind – a parody of Alicia Keys and Jay Z's hugely successful single New York State of Mind – was forced off YouTube after the seven co-writers of the original declined to give their permission for this use of their IP.
Under the Hargreaves recommendations the parody, which writers Alex Warren and Terema Wainright unsuccessfully attempted to get clearance for in a meeting with Universal Records, would be given the green light.
"The case for introducing and updating this exception is strong in both cultural and economic terms," Hargreaves, chair of digital economy at the Cardiff School of Journalism, will say in the review. "A healthy creative economy should embrace creativity in all its aspects. A legally sound structure would not be mocked by pervasive infringement by otherwise law abiding citizens and organisations with the stature of the BBC."