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The Hargreaves Report and Digital Innovation
The Hargreaves Report has made ten major recommendations to open the intellectual property and copyright laws to a digital audience and David Cameron has been urged to support the changes to copyright law. What does it mean for publishers and authors?

The Hargreaves Report has been published and introduces ten major recommendations for changes to copyright and intellectual property law. With the report receiving praise from politicians and private parties equally, the government is being urged to support these changes. Both The Guardian and The Telegraph have run news articles on this report and how vitally important it is that copyright law is radically changed to meet the demands of a digital nation. What do these changes mean for authors and publishers? Will it benefit them or will it be a hindrance to a transition to a digital market?

One of the major recommendations of the report is that copying text, images or data should not fall foul of the copyright law, provided that it is for private use. It's a popular and logic step forward for copyright law. We will be in a situation where there is a major distinction in copyright law between public and private usage. Authors must always be careful to distinguish between private and public use in their works. If, for example, a blogger decides to use an extract from your work and publishes in on a website, that is public use. It is accessible to anyone and you have not given your explicit permission for its use. Public use has a wide scope in literary circles. Copyright notices are vitally important.

The second major recommendation is that "orphan works", those texts where the author or the nearest descendant of the author cannot be found, should be digitised under a collective licensing scheme. The report makes recommendations that any persons wishing to digitise the text should pay a minimal cost for the search for a rights owner and a license to publish the text and, after a reasonable time has elapsed, it can be published. What this means is that any works without names or published anonymously which cannot be traced back will be published without the owner receiving any form of royalties or profit from future sales. It's important then that everything that you produce from poems to prose should include your name.

The Hargreaves Report is a step forward from archaic copyright laws but it is in the interests of private parties and organisations to continue the march forward for literature in the name of digital chance. It is important for change to happen if it is being blocked. By making works accessible to a digital audience and by promoting yourself fluidly through blogs and social networking, the literary industry can be a pioneer in digital evolution in the creative industries.

Hargreaves Report on Intellectual Property Law and Growth
Image copyright to Intellectual Property Office under the Open Government License