The Hargreaves Review: Liberte Egalite Downloading in the UK

The storm clouds are forming in the UK over appointments to the Hargreaves Review, a six-month government intellectual property review to examine barriers to new internet-based business models, including the costs of obtaining permissions from existing rights-holders. (Ian Hargreaves is currently the chair of Digital Economy at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Cardiff Business School.)  Sounds like a Five Year Plan is in our future.

The costs of obtaining permissions from existing rights-holders…let’s see now, who might be interested in that?  Perhaps the wife of Prime Minister Cameron’s chief strategist–who also happens to be…wait for it…wait for it…Global VP of Public Affairs and Communications for Google.  No, that is not a joke, and yes it is true

So aside from the fact that the impetus for the review itself is a bit dodgy, it should come as no surprise that one James Boyle was appointed to the 5 member expert advisory board.  James Boyle is a founding board member and former chair of Creative Commons, and also co-founded the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke.  And of course he was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Pioneer Award” this year.  (See also “The Great Circular Award Ceremony“.)

So let that sink in for a minute.

Having sunk in, you will not be surprised to know that Boyle also authored one comic entitled “Theft” and another which features Lessig as the Statue of Liberty holding a pirate flag in the style of Les Miserables (not touching that with your fork).  You will also not be surprised to know that a Member of Parliament has tabled a parliamentary question demanding to know how the panel was selected.

As Andrew Orlowski reports in The Register, MP Michael Wetherley said “‘I’d like to ensure the review has legitimacy…’I’d like to see a balanced review and we need to be careful it’s not pushed in one direction.'”


And when Mr. Weatherly gets done with Boyle, maybe he can also find out who the unnamed “experts” were for the General Accountability Office “review” we suffered through in this country.