HomeInsightsNeed to Know – 2015.01.12

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General

European Copyright Society calls for European Union-wide unification of copyright laws.

2014 figures reveal continued growth across the UK creative industries.

Technology

Ofcom launches consultation on draft regulations for new wireless telegraphy legislation.

Broadcasting

Ofcom publishes consultation on political parties listed as “major parties” ahead of General Election in May 2015.

Ofcom finds ARY News failed to ensure complainant was treated fairly by commenting without justification on her mental health.

Ofcom publishes update on key issues to be considered at World Radiocommunication Conference 2015.

Music

BPI figures show that streaming doubled in 2014 and that British artists are leading the way.

Publishing

Independent Press Standards Organisation receives 3,000 complaints in first three months of operation and publishes first adjudications.

Independent Press Standards Organisation upholds complaint of inaccuracy in Edinburgh Evening News.

Hacked Off ticked off by ASA for “Leveson Royal Charter Declaration” press ad.

High Court finds clause in settlement agreement relating to libel proceedings too vague and uncertain to be enforceable.

Court of Appeal rules anonymity order under Children and Young Persons Act 1933 expires on 18th birthday.

Film & TV

British Video Association says video market in 2014 remained buoyant.

General

European Copyright Society calls for European Union-wide unification of copyright laws.

In a letter to the new Digital Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, the European Copyright Society has called for a European copyright law that would apply directly and uniformly across the Union, not further harmonisation of copyright.

Despite almost 25 years of harmonisation of copyright in the EU, copyright law in Europe has essentially remained national law, the Society says.  Each Member State still has its own law on copyright and related rights that apply strictly within its own territory.  This has led to the fragmentation of markets along national borders, impeding the establishment of a Digital Single Market for creative content and undermining the Union’s international competitiveness, the letter states.

The Society notes that, whilst the development of multi-territorial or pan-European collective licensing might “somewhat alleviate these problems”, it has also raised new transactional and legal problems by undermining existing national blanket licensing models.  Further, the problems of market fragmentation persist.  In the Society’s view “a more ambitious solution is now called for: true unification of copyright by way of a European Copyright Law (Regulation) that would replace national legal titles”.  In the Society’s judgment, this is “the only way a fully functioning Digital Single Market for copyright-based goods and services can ultimately be achieved”.

The Society recognises that unification of copyright law would be a long-term project, but says that that is no reason not to initiate it.  Given its potentially positive impact on the European creative economy, work on such a project should be commenced as soon as possible, it says.  To read the letter in full, click here.

2014 figures reveal continued growth across the UK creative industries.

Government statistics show that 2014 has been “another incredible year for the UK’s creative industries”.  Data shows records being broken in music, UK video games continuing to lead the European market, and British films fascinating audiences with prolific titles such as 12 Years a Slave and Mandela: Long walk to freedom.

Between January and October 2014 the top five British films collectively brought in £72.93 million to the UK box office.  Further, the BFI London Film Festival enjoyed record numbers of audiences, with 163,000 people attending the festival, a 7.5% increase on the previous year and the highest number of attendees to date.  

On the music scene, latest figures from the Official Charts Company reveal that nine of the top ten biggest selling artist albums of 2014 were UK acts (see BPI item below).

The Government says that it continues to invest in the long-term development of British music through schemes such as Music Export Growth, which is providing grants of up to £50,000 to support independent music companies market UK music overseas.  

On the video games front, the Government says that the UK games sector is renowned for its talent and for the creativity and innovation of its products.  The UK is also a leading investment destination for overseas video games companies.  The UK is also home to the largest games development community in Europe, with 1,902 video game companies based in the country with the potential of bringing in £1.72 billion to the UK economy.

The Government says that it remains committed to the growth of the creative industries through measures such as tax reliefs, inward investments and the creation of opportunities through access to training.  To read the Government’s press release in full, click here.

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Technology

Ofcom launches consultation on draft regulations for new wireless telegraphy legislation.

The new proposed legislation is, Ofcom says, intended to keep pace with technological advances to control interference.

Ofcom explains that electrical and electronic apparatus are capable of emitting electromagnetic energy.  In most cases, this is minimal and has no noticeable negative effects.  However, in some cases the level of energy emitted from apparatus can cause interference to wireless communications.

Ofcom has powers to take enforcement action in instances where some types of electrical or electronic apparatus causes undue interference to wireless communications.  The proposed regulations are intended to be more resilient to technical developments.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 16 February 2015.  To access the consultation documentation, click here.

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Broadcasting

Ofcom publishes consultation on political parties listed as “major parties” ahead of General Election in May 2015.

The list of “major parties” is important for Ofcom’s regulation of election coverage, in particular requiring the relevant broadcasters to allocate at least two Party Election Broadcasts to each major party ahead of an election.  These broadcasters are ITV, STV, UTV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Classic FM, Talksport and Absolute Radio. Broadcasters can also choose to allocate additional Party Election Broadcasts.

Party Election Broadcasts on the BBC are regulated by the BBC Trust and are currently the subject of a separate consultation.

Ofcom keeps its list of “major parties” under review to ensure it reflects political developments in the UK.

Ofcom’s existing list of major parties is:

  • in Great Britain, the Conservative Party; the Labour Party; and the Liberal Democrats;
  • in Scotland and Wales respectively, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru; and
  • in Northern Ireland, the Alliance Party; the Democratic Unionist Party; Sinn Fein; the Social Democratic and Labour Party; and the Ulster Unionist Party.

Based on available evidence, Ofcom’s initial view is there is no strong argument to remove any of the existing parties from the list of major parties.

Ofcom has also considered whether other parties should be added to the list.  Based on available evidence, Ofcom is consulting on whether three parties would qualify for the major parties list for the 2015 General Election.  These are:

  • the Green Party (including the Scottish Green Party);
  • the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) in Northern Ireland; and
  • the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Ofcom’s initial view is that UKIP may qualify for major party status in England and Wales for the General Election and English local elections on 7 May 2015.

Ofcom’s initial view is that neither the Green Party (including the Scottish Green Party) nor the TUV have secured sufficient support in previous elections and current opinion polls to be added to Ofcom’s major party list for the purposes of the May 2015 elections.

Ofcom is seeking views on its initial assessment.  The consultation is open until 5 February 2015 and Ofcom expects to publish a statement and, if appropriate, a revised list of major parties, by early March 2015.  To access the consultation documentation, click here.

Ofcom finds ARY News failed to ensure complainant was treated fairly by commenting without justification on her mental health.

News bulletins and Khara Sach, a talk show on ARY News, a TV station broadcasting to the Pakistani community in the UK, featured discussions on a video which had emerged on the internet featuring the complainant, Miss Bilal, purportedly saying that she had had an affair with Lord Nazir Ahmed, one of the five Muslim peers in the House of Lords.  The news bulletins reported on the video and included part of a recording of a telephone interview between an ARY News reporter and Miss Bilal and also with some of her relatives, in which Miss Bilal’s mental health and Lord Nazir Ahmed were discussed.  The talk show featured a live telephone call between the presenter and Lord Ahmed.

Following a complaint by Miss Bilal that she was treated unjustly and unfairly in the programme as broadcast, Ofcom found that the programme presented as fact that Miss Bilal had mental health problems and that this was given prominence in the reports despite having no bearing on the matters being discussed, i.e. an alleged affair and an alleged orchestrated campaign against Lord Ahmed.  Ofcom also said that the comments about Miss Bilal’s mental health, whether true or not, clearly not only had the potential to be insulting because of their derogatory nature, but also to materially and adversely affect viewers’ perception of Miss Bilal.

Ofcom found that ARY News had not considered whether it would be appropriate to include the pre-recorded comments in the programme despite having a degree of time to do so.  It also found that the broadcaster had not taken steps to advise Lord Nazir Ahmed to take care about any allegations he might make during the live telephone interview and that he should not use the programme as a platform to express his views in relation to private and personal matters to do with Miss Bilal. 

Ofcom concluded that the nature of the comments themselves, including private information about a person’s mental health, was enough to result in unfairness to Miss Bilal without appropriate contextual justification. 

Ofcom also found that Practice 8.12 of the Broadcasting Code had not been followed in relation to the telephone conversation between Miss Bilal and the reporter during which she divulged information about her mental health, because she believed that the call was “off the record” and the reporter had not explained that it was being recorded for possible broadcast.  In the absence of a warranted reason for the material to be used without consent, Ofcom concluded that Miss Bilal’s privacy had been unwarrantably infringed.  To read Ofcom’s adjudication on A complaint by Miss Samina Bilal published in Issue 270 of the Broadcast Bulletin (5 January 2015) click here.

Ofcom publishes update on key issues to be considered at World Radiocommunication Conference 2015.

WRCs are held approximately every four years and take key decisions concerning the identification and international harmonisation of spectrum bands.

Under a Government direction, Ofcom represents the UK at WRCs.  The next conference takes place in Geneva from the 2 to 27 November 2015.  It will consider a wide range of issues across a number of sector interests, including mobile broadband, maritime, aeronautical, satellite and science use of spectrum.

Ofcom’s latest update follows a consultation in June 2014 and is, Ofcom says, intended to inform the ongoing preparation process and stakeholder engagement programme.  It provides updated UK positions, taking into account the responses from the consultation.

Ofcom says that, in a number of cases further work will be required to develop the UK position and it may publish another WRC update closer to the start of the conference.  To access the update, click here.

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Music

BPI figures show that streaming doubled in 2014 and that British artists are leading the way.

Figures released by the BPI based on the Official Charts Company data show that an outstanding performance by British artists, such as Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and George Ezra, combined with a continuing marked trend towards consumption from streaming services, delivered another year of £1 billion-plus sales for the UK recorded music business in 2014.  This was broadly in line with 2013, dipping just 1.6% less in terms of retail value.

The figures show that nearly 15 billion songs were streamed during 2014 and digital now accounts for 51% of UK music consumption.  The launch of major new streaming services in 2015 is expected to further boost demand as streaming increasingly goes mainstream, the BPI says.  Further, the surge in streaming will help to offset the decline in CD sales and the maturing downloads format to keep the retail value of recorded music above the £1 billion threshold.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of BPI and the BRIT Awards, said: “With major new premium services from Apple and YouTube set to boost subscription streaming even further in 2015, we believe the UK’s world-leading music industry is strongly positioned for future expansion”.  For further information, click here.

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Publishing

Independent Press Standards Organisation receives 3,000 complaints in first three months of operation and publishes first adjudications.

The new press regulator, IPSO, has published its first set of adjudications on complaints, including the first use of its power to direct the nature and placement of a correction.  Sir Alan Moses, Chairman of IPSO, has also written to editors and publishers setting out new guidance to the industry in relation to their complaints handling processes.

In the three months since IPSO started work in September it has received nearly 3,000 complaints.  Of those that have been concluded, many have been resolved between the publication and the complainant under IPSO’s new procedures in which publications are given a maximum of 28 days to try to reach resolution with the complainant before IPSO takes up the case.

IPSO has also published the first adjudications of its Complaints Committee.  These include the first use of IPSO’s new power to determine the nature and positioning of a complaint.  In this instance the newspaper has been required to publish the correction on page three or further forward in the newspaper.

The new guidance sent by Sir Alan to editors and publishers states that every member publication should contain information informing readers how and to whom they can complain about editorial issues.  All complainants raising issues relevant to IPSO’s remit should be informed about the Editors’ Code and provided with IPSO’s contact details.

Sir Alan said that the fact that IPSO had already received nearly 3,000 complaints showed that the new system was “working well”.  “Our complaints staff provide an efficient and sensitive voice to those who seek to complain about a breach of the standards set in the Editor’s Code”, he said.

As for the future, Sir Alan said that IPSO will “strive to act in accordance with the principles we established in September, 2014”.  “Now that we have agreed IPSO’s budget for 2015 and found new offices, we can start to shape IPSO’s standards function and set out to find the best means by which those who cannot afford court proceedings may seek resolution and redress from publications”, he said.  

Sir Alan also said that IPSO will work with industry to make changes to its rules and regulations that will “simplify our procedures, and ensure that we can act as an effective independent regulator for the benefit of the public and the press”.  To read IPSO’s press release in full, click here.

Independent Press Standards Organisation upholds complaint of inaccuracy in Edinburgh Evening News.

A man complained to IPSO that the Edinburgh Evening News had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in publishing a front page teaser image with the caption “Who lives in a house like this?” on 13 September 2014.

The newspaper had published a photograph of the complainant’s house on the front page, referring readers to pages four and five for the full story.  These pages featured an entirely unrelated article about a man convicted of sexual offences, with the story about the complainant’s house appearing on pages six and seven.  The complainant said that the error inaccurately suggested that a sex offender lived in his home.

The newspaper apologised for the error, offered to write a private letter of apology to the complainant, and published the following clarification on its corrections page in print on page two and online:

An item on our front page on September 13 2014, featured a picture of [the complainant]’s house displaying a giant Yes banner alongside the headline “Who lives in a house like this?” Readers were incorrectly referred to pages four and five for the full story, where there was a report about a sex offender, rather than to pages six and seven where the report about [the complainant] actually appeared. We are very sorry for the error and any embarrassment caused”.

The newspaper also offered to make a donation of £50 to a local charity, at the request of the complainant.

The complainant was concerned that the correction linked his name with the offences.  At his request, it was removed.  He did not consider a £50 donation to be sufficient, nor did he feel that a letter of apology would address the damage caused by the original article and picture.

IPSO found that the newspaper had failed to take care not to publish inaccurate information on its front page.  It therefore upheld the complaint, saying that the newspaper should have checked on which pages the article about the complainant’s house would appear, and made sure that the front page accurately reflected this.  In failing to do so, it had breached Clause 1(i).  A correction was therefore necessary to comply with the terms of Clause 1(ii).

IPSO found that the correction published by the newspaper had identified the original inaccuracy, made clear the true position, and had included an apology, which was necessary to comply with the terms of Clause 1(ii).  The newspaper had offered to correct the error promptly, as soon as it had been brought to its attention.

Further, given that the original front page had not suggested a link between the complainant and the sex offences, and that this would only have been made by readers who turned to pages four and five, the positioning of the correction on page two was appropriate.  The newspaper’s offer was therefore a sufficient remedy under the terms of Clause 1(ii).  (A Man v Edinburgh Evening News – to read the Complaints Committee’s adjudication in full, click here).

Hacked Off ticked off by ASA for “Leveson Royal Charter Declaration” press ad.

A national press ad for the campaign group Hacked Off featured a number of names and the claim, “What do all these people have in common?  The Leveson Royal Charter Declaration.  The ad included the declaration itself in smaller font, which described the new model of press self-regulation as “independently audited on the lines recommended by Lord Justice Leveson”.  

A complainant said the ad, and particularly the title of the declaration, misleadingly suggested that the Royal Charter and all of its contents had been proposed, recommended, written or endorsed by Lord Justice Leveson. 

The ASA said that although consumers would be aware that Leveson’s recommendations following his public inquiry prompted a movement towards the establishment of a new model of press self-regulation, it was not so well known how this would be implemented.  The ASA considered that, without a clear qualification, consumers would understand the title The Leveson Royal Charter Declaration to be a claim that the Royal Charter was one of the direct outcomes of the Leveson public inquiry, rather than a response to it. 

The ASA also found that the “strong suggestion” of Leveson’s involvement in the Royal Charter, alongside a conflicting statement regarding the indirect influence of his public inquiry recommendations, provided consumers with confusing and ambiguous statements regarding the nature of any involvement of Leveson in the Royal Charter.  As such, the ASA concluded that the ad was likely to mislead and breached CAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).  To read ASA Adjudication on Hacked Off (31 December 2014), click here.

High Court finds clause in settlement agreement relating to libel proceedings too vague and uncertain to be enforceable.

The High Court has found that a clause in a settlement agreement entered into by Mr Sabby Mionis and Democratic Press SA pursuant to libel proceedings was too vague and uncertain to be enforceable. 

The clause effectively restricted Democratic Press from “referring” to Mr Mionis or to his “immediate family” in any subsequent publications. 

Mr Mionis subsequently alleged that Democratic Press had breached the clause by publishing further articles, which referred indirectly to Mr Mionis and to his brother by referring to associates of Mr Mionis.  He sought an injunction against Democratic Press and an inquiry as to damages resulting from the alleged breaches.

Sir David Eady found that the clause concerned encompassed both direct and indirect references to Mr Mionis or his immediate family.  However, construing the clause in the context of what the parties understood the clause to mean at the time of the agreement, i.e. the “relevant background”, including Democratic Press’s right and duty to report accurately and fairly on the story in question, Sir David found the clause to be too vague and uncertain to be enforceable. 

Accordingly, Democratic Press was not in breach of the settlement agreement and Mr Mionis’s application for an injunction and an inquiry as to damages as a result of the alleged breach was dismissed.  (Sabby Mionis v Democratic Press SA [2014] EWHC 4104 (QB) (5 December 2014) – to read the judgment in full, click here).

Court of Appeal rules anonymity order under Children and Young Persons Act 1933 expires on 18th birthday.

In an ex tempore judgment the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of JC and RT against a decision of the Administrative Court ([2014] 1 WLR 3697) refusing an application for judicial review of a decision by the Recorder of London that an order under s 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 would expire on their 18th birthdays.

The court held that the purpose of s 39 was not to protect adults but to protect three classes of children and young persons caught up in proceedings from adverse publicity.  Only Parliament could extend the protection.  (Regina (JC and Another) v Central Criminal Court, The Times, 2 January 2015 – subscribers to The Times newspaper can access the report here).

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Film & TV

British Video Association says video market in 2014 remained buoyant.

The BVA says that total spending during 2014 was just under £2.2 billion, similar to in 2013.  Further, digital continued to boost the video entertainment market with a 30% growth in 2014.

Buying videos to own and keep was overwhelmingly the preferred choice for consumers representing two thirds of all video spend.  Total retail sales were £1.43 billion in 2014 with DVDs and Blu-rays accounting for 89% of spend, the balance being consumers boosting video disc collections with digital HD downloads.  More people purchased a video to own on DVD, Bly-ray or as a digital HD download during the year than those that visited the cinema.

There was also a video rentals resurgence in 2014.  Video rentals and subscriptions accounted for one third of consumer spending.  Total rentals and subscriptions were estimated to be £755 million in 2014 with pay-TV on-demand and internet subscription services accounting for 81% of rentals, the balance being disc rentals.

Commenting on the figures, Liz Bales, Chief Executive of the BVA said: “Video is as popular as it has ever been despite competition for consumers’ time and money.  Research shows that video discs represent an emotional purchase and form of owning content that can be enjoyed again and again.  Shoppers are choosing new ways to buy such as Digital HD downloads and renting on demand, but these figures show that DVDs and Blu-rays are still the most popular way to watch and own video”.  To read the BVA media statement in full, click here.

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