Due to the continued evolution of the internet, it seems that many of our existing laws are being adapted to accommodate the unique challenges that the online world presents. Often, this process involves a relaxing of UK laws to increase profitability of online businesses - but when does ‘relaxed’ become 'too relaxed'?
This question is dividing opinion following David Cameron’s announcement earlier this month that IP laws are to be reviewed to make them fit for the internet age. He suggested that the law could be relaxed to be closer to the laws in the US, and to allow greater use of copyright material without the permission of the owner. He noted that the founders of Google ‘have said that they could never have started their company in Britain.’
Some internet campaigners have welcomed the announcement, saying that it will boost small businesses, whilst the film and music industries are likely to continue to resist reform.
UK law firm Taylor Wessing, meanwhile, has said that it does not believe that the Government can introduce a US-style fair use exemption without renegotiating the text of the European Copyright Directive 2001/29/EC, which sought to harmonise copyright law across Europe.
It remains to be seen whether the Government will achieve the right balance between accessibility and practicality. Professor Ian Hargreaves, the current chair of Digital Economy at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Cardiff Business School, will be leading the review.