Walter Merricks, the Independent Code Reviewer, has today published his Report on Collective Management Organisations’ (CMOs) Codes of Conduct.

The Review and the Report were commissioned by the British Copyright Council (BCC) on behalf of its member CMOs in November 2013, a year after individual CMOs introduced their Codes. The Call for Evidence ran between 15 January and 28 February 2014 following which there has been further consultation with CMOs and their stakeholders. An Independent Code Review every three years is a key part of the self-regulatory process put in place by UK CMOs.

The BCC is pleased to have played a leading role in setting up and facilitating this self-regulatory initiative, in association with CMOs and with the support of the BCC’s wider membership, while preserving the independence of the Review and Call for Evidence process. The Report and its analysis, conclusions and recommendations are the work of the Independent Code Reviewer alone.

The Independent Code Review is the latest stage of a process that, between 2010 and 2011, saw the development of the BCC Principles of Good Practice for Collective Management Organisations and their adoption by CMOs, including a commitment to introduce new codes of conduct or adapt existing ones by November 2012 to bring them into line with the BCC Principles.

The appointment of the Independent Code Reviewer in August 2013 was carried out by an independent panel made up of representatives of organisations of rights holders and representatives of organisations of users of copyright protected works, one representative from the collective management organisations and an observer from the Intellectual Property Office. The Reviewer’s task was to assess, in the light of evidence submitted and the Government’s own minimum standards, whether the BCC’s Principles remained fit for purpose and that the CMOs’ Codes are compliant with the BCC Principles.

The BCC welcomes the Reviewer’s support for self-regulation (a view it shares) and the Reviewer’s positive comments about the BCC’s role in initiating the current self-regulatory regime. In circumstances where self-regulation has been followed in April 2014 by the Government putting in place “backstop” powers for statutory regulation, one of the Report’s recommendations is that “the BCC should consider whether it wishes to maintain its own set of Principles for Codes of Conduct alongside the standards contained in the Licensing Body Regulations”. This is something for the BCC’s members to decide and the recommendation will be discussed by the Council with a decision before the end of the year. However, the BCC feels that this independent self-regulatory process has been invaluable in helping CMOs to develop consolidated codes and to ensure their accessibility

Chair of the BCC Codes of Conduct Working Group Kevin Fitzgerald CMG commented

The publication of this report is a milestone in the self regulatory process put in place by UK collective management organisations. While the report shows self regulation to be generally fit for purpose it contains some thought provoking recommendations that will require careful consideration.

The BCC thanks Walter Merricks for his independent report.

The full report is available to review on the Independent Code Review website.

More information about the British Copyright Council can be found at www.britishcopyright.org. To contact the BCC call 01986 788 122 or e-mail secretary@britishcopyright.org.

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