Gowers goes after the pirates…

but ripping CDs is allowed.

The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property has just been published as part of Chancellor Gordon Brown’s pre-budget report.

In his introduction Andrew Gowers writes:

the Chancellor and the Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry, and Culture, Media and Sport asked me to establish whether the system was fit for purpose in an era of globalisation, digitisation and increasing economic specialisation. The answer is a qualified ‘yes’. I do not think the system is in need of radical overhaul.

Well, the report is 146 pages long so I’ll be ordering capuccinos here in CB2 in Cambridge for a while longer before finishing it, but on first pass I’d have to say that the report gets a ‘qualified yes’ from me too.

We can live with harsher laws, more rigorously enforced, if the framework is fair, reasonable and balanced. Cliff Richard will have to do without the royalties from his performance of ‘Living Doll’ (I think we should make a date in our diaries to upload a copy to Wikipedia the moment it’s out of copyright). And we will no longer have to rely on the grace and favour of the record industry to copy music from CD to hard drive just so we can enjoy the rights to listen to it.

Of course at the moment the report, in all its glory, is just ink on paper (or, in my case, transistors on a screen). When Gordon Brown commissioned it a whole year ago he confidently expected that he would be PM by now, able to deliver on promises and dispatch ministers to EU meetings and WTO summits to turn his proposals into action on the national and world stages. Sadly, he still waits in the Treasury and will depend on Blair’s consent for much that is proposed.

But it is a start. Neither as bad as I had feared nor as neutered as I expected.

More to follow..