I bet you missed these

Today is the deadline for submissions to the public consultation on the first “operational” ID Cards Pilot – alias “The Trial of Smart Card Provisional Driving Licenses for Wales”. How many of you huffers and puffers miss such exercises?

I recently did a straw poll of those who receive the consultation notices that EURIM sends out to its members to see how many had not heard of the exercises from any other source. The consultation over over the planned Welsh trial was NOT one of them, I was first alerted to it by FIPR but I have been surprised to discover how few organisations are aware of it, including in government.

The most recent such exercise is the Patent Office consultation on “Exceptions to Copyright”.

Unlike some other departments, the Patent Office makes great efforts to notify all who might be interested in its consultations but this topic is widely seen as boring.

Copyright may normally be boring, but the “fair use” exemptions for indivduals, students and researchers are central to the economics of the information Society. So too, however, is that way that they are ring-fenced against commercial pirates.

The rights are also the heart of major controversy around the world, with attempts to US commercial interests to impose their will on others – at the same time as Congressmen and Senators are negotiating legislative reform – so as to better recognise and reward scientific and engineering innovation rather than legal creativity.

The subject is central to the business models that drive the innovations which will underpin recovery from the impending recession that will otherwise put so many of you out of work – replaced by better educated, trained and more regularly updated technicians and professionals in India and China – who take a culturally different (more akin to that of France than of the US) attitude towards the rights of the creator..

The text of the Patent Office e-mail was, as always, beautifully understated:


In December 2006, Andrew Gowers reported his findings on the UK’s Intellectual Property regime. While he concluded that the system was broadly satisfactory he identified a number of areas where improvements could be made. These included modifying copyright rules to improve access to, and use of, copyright material for private individuals, students and


The Copyright Exceptions consultation launches today, 8 January 2008, and closes on 8 April 2008.

Comments may be sent by post, e-mail or fax to;

Gowers Copyright Consultation

Copyright and Intellectual Property Enforcement Directorate

UK Intellectual Property Office

Concept House

Cardiff Road


NP10 8QQ

Email: copyrightconsultation@ipo.gov.uk

Fax: 0044 (0) 1633 814 922

Please note that this is stage one of a two part consultation process. There will be a further opportunity to make your views known when we consult on a draft statutory instrument in due course.

Additionally. the IPO will again be holding informal meetings with any interested parties early in 2008 (i.e. prior to the first consultation closing). Further information on this will be available shortly.

The consultation document is available on our website at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/consult-copyrightexceptions.htm


This consultation really is important – and there is plenty of time – so please read and respond – both direct and via the channels of your choice.

I know that this blog is read by officials in a number of departments and I remind them that if they have consultations coming up for which they wish to ensure a broad-based and representative response, I am happy to arrange for details to be circulated to the lists of EURIM members and observers. I have also agreed with Computer Weekly that, if the subject is important to a wider audience, I will make a similar plug to this.

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Philip hits a raw nerve. We simply don't know what consultations are going on, and yet how often have you heard people yelping after a consultation was closed and the legislation is almost on the statute book "we were not consulted"? Yes you were, but could not be bovvered to look.

A year or two back, I -with Philip's encouragement (he may indeed have had the original idea)- ran a page in the PITCOM Journal on what Parliamentary Green Papers were under consultation, and urging people to contribute. This appeared in the pages of a respected magazine about IT in Government, which should have been the right place to attract attention from the right audience.

Did it? You must be joking! I have no evidence that anybody read it, let alone responded.

Philip's blog is a good place to have another go. This is supposed to be the age of e-participation, innit?