Feeds

UK 'copyright czar' Edmund Quilty quits as Blighty's Director of Copyright Enforcement

IPO Tour of Destruction 2008-2014

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Exclusive Britain's unofficial "copyright czar", Edmund Quilty, is moving on. Probably the most influential civil servant you've never heard of, Quilty has served as the Director of Copyright Enforcement and Policy at the UK patent office for six years, far longer than the typical stint for a career bureaucrat of two years.

"We can confirm that Ed Quilty, the current Director, will be moving on to another post in the civil service and that the post for Copyright and Enforcement Director has been advertised," a spokesman for the Department of Business and Skills, BiS (which in theory looks after the IPO), told us.

Separate sources confirmed that Quilty had told confidantes he was resigning in September, but was requested by his BiS Minister Lord Younger to stay on until draft copyright exceptions had been published.

Analysis

Vigorous activism by Quilty's team, including such proposals (PDF) as taking the UK out of the international copyright system entirely, prompted an All Party Parliamentary enquiry (PDF) into the conduct of the former patent office, now the Intellectual Property Office.

While ministers responsible for IP policy came and went - Quilty served under and advised five different ministers in two governments - Quilty's team set about implementing a radical copyright agenda covered extensively on this website (see links to the left).

Quilty had never worked with IP before, but took to the task of copyright reform with enthusiasm.

One of the first "big ideas" he supported was an idea to make copyright opt-in, creating a compulsory registration database of creative works - poems, photographs, news stories - so creators would have to register if they wanted to gain protection. Of course, under the Berne and WIPO Treaties copyright protection is automatic, and this breach of the treaties would prompt massive economic retaliation. Its backers later described the scheme as "voluntary".

Nevertheless the UK set about maximising every opportunity to dilute or abolish copyright protection - and has lobbied assiduously for similar changes at a European level, say sources. ("Influencing the global rights-granting agenda", is how the IPO's head John Alty describes this lobbying work) .

The justification advanced for such radical changes turned out to be flimsy, with the IPO conceding its own economic analysis was inaccurate: its original £7.9bn estimate of the overall benefit to the UK economy from the Hargreaves Review of IP was later cut. The IPO's economics attracted a highly critical investigation from Parliament's All Party IP Group chaired by John Whittingdale, and last year more criticism from a DCMS select committee enquiry into the creative industries, which advised the government to abandon the Hargreaves Review into IP. Much of the content of Hargreaves came from Quilty's team.

The IPO failed to pass orphan works legislation in the 2010 Digital Economy Act but succeeded in adding it to the bumper business bill passed last year - the so-called "Instagram Act" - although it now looks as if the UK will have two orphan works laws sitting side-by-side.

Yet perhaps the IPO's contribution to the ERR Act might be Quilty's lasting achievement. Sweeping changes to UK copyright law that affect significant economic sectors can now be passed by secondary legislation, by Statutory Instrument, without the full scrutiny of Parliament needed to amend primary legislation.

"In the copyright area, you're often talking about a cake which has to be divided up between people," Quilty told Parliament last year. "And the questions are just how big is the cake, who gets the biggest slice of it: do creators get a bigger slice, do consumers get a bigger slice?"

This is a profoundly conservative view of the world; like "zero growth". The thought of actually growing the pie so that members of future generations get paid for creating and selling their stuff didn't seem to be part of his thinking.

Perhaps in a new-look IPO, it might be. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?