Evidence-based research for use in policy making is at the heart of CIPPM’s ethos. Recent research that has informed and influenced policy includes CIPPM’s studies on orphan works, copyright exception for parody, open standards, authors’ earnings and copyright term extension.

Economic Effect of Parody

In December 2011 Dr Kris Erickson, Professor Martin Kretschmer and Dr Dinusha Mendis won a research bid to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to support the Government consultation on the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property.

The purpose of the research was to assess the economic impact commercial rightsholders would experience if their work could be freely parodied under copyright law.

The commissioned research was the first large-scale empirical study of the economic effects of parody carried out in the UK. The BU team undertook a comparative study of commercial music videos and amateur parodies to determine whether there were economic consequences to the presence of parody.

Further research examined the legal treatment of parodies in different jurisdictions and possible regulatory options.

The study showed there is no evidence for economic harm to rightsholders through either substitution or reputational damage. In fact, the presence of parody content is correlated with larger audiences for original music videos.

Parody videos in the study generated up to £2 million in revenue through advertising, a portion of which was shared with creators and rightsholders. Advertising revenue as a whole was cited as worth £10s of millions.

On the basis of this evidence, the research team recommended that the IPO and the Government move ahead with a planned copyright exception for parody, on the grounds that it would offer small but measurable economic benefits to both rightsholders and parodists.

In December 2012, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced that the Government plans to reform the Copyright regime in the UK, introduced in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. On 31 July 2013 the Government published a draft of their proposed changes to the law, including the exemption from intellectual property copyright on the grounds of parody.

The proposed exception for parody will have significant impacts on a range of beneficiaries: UK media businesses, advertisers, technology providers, fans and consumers. The new law will grant the ability for anyone to create parodies of existing work, without requiring permission from rights holders.  While the research clearly shows that there are minimal economic downsides for rights holders, the potential benefits in terms of freedom of expression, economic growth and the upskilling of young people are considerable.

Open Standards

The UK Cabinet office commissioned and funded two reports by CIPPM to enable an evidence-based policy on Open Standards in Government IT Procurement.  This included an independent review of the legal and economic issues related to Open Standards, by Sally Weston, Professor Martin Kretschmer and Professor Jennifer Piesse, alongside an analysis of the consultation responses by Dr Marcella Favale.

The report was included on the Cabinet Office website when the Open Standards Principles were launched on 1 November 2012. From that day all Government bodies had to comply with Open Standards Principles for software interoperability and data and document formats in government IT.