Shaping intellectual property legislation through evidence-based research
Submitting InstitutionBournemouth University
Unit of AssessmentBusiness and Management Studies
Summary Impact TypePolitical
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Law and Legal Studies: Law
Summary of the impact
The Centre for Intellectual Property and Policy Management (CIPPM) is a
multi-disciplinary research hub at Bournemouth University (BU). Its ethos
is to bring evidence-based, academic rigor to the regulation of
intellectual property. Consequently, the research has become an
increasingly important resource to those involved in the legislative
process. This case study illustrates CIPPM's evidence-based,
policy-shaping research through two specific examples from 2013: 1)
providing the evidence base for the proposed copyright exception for
parody and 2) providing the evidence base for an open standards policy in
Government IT procurement.
Evidence-based research for use in policy making is at the heart of
CIPPM's ethos. Recent research that has informed and influenced policy
includes CIPPM's studies on orphan works, copyright exception for parody,
open standards, authors' earnings and copyright term extension. To enhance
the impact of its research, CIPPM holds annual symposia where the views of
policy makers, social scientists and lawyers are presented and discussed.
In 2012, BU won funding for an ESRC Festival of Social Science event: What
Constitutes Evidence for Copyright Policy? The Symposium was held at BU on
8 November 2012 and explored the use of evidence in copyright policy
making, challenging the concept from a social science perspective (R1). It
was organised by Towse (BU 2012 to present) and Kretschmer (BU 1999-Dec
This case study illustrates CIPPM's evidence-based, policy-shaping
research through two specific examples: advising the Government on the
economic impact of a copyright exception for parody and helping the UK
Cabinet to formulate a policy on open standards.
Economic effect of parody
In December 2011, Erickson (2010-Sept 2013), Kretschmer and Mendis (2011
to present) won a research bid from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
to support the Government consultation on the Hargreaves Review of
Intellectual Property (G1). The purpose of the research was to assess the
economic impact that commercial rights holders would experience if their
work could be freely parodied under copyright law.
The commissioned research was the first large-scale empirical study of
the economic effects of parody carried out in the UK. The BU team
undertook a comparative study of commercial music, videos and amateur
parodies on YouTube, selected for its status as the leading online video
platform. The researchers sampled 8,299 pieces of user-generated content
related to top-100 charting music singles in the UK for the year 2011 to
determine whether economic effects were caused by the presence of parody
P2 examines the legal treatment of parodies in seven jurisdictions that
have implemented a copyright exception. Researchers identified possible
regulatory options for benefiting from a parody exception to copyright
infringement, and distilled the (economic and non-economic) rationales
developed by legislators and courts. P3 brings together the legal analysis
and the empirical data. Each of the policy options identified in P2 is
examined for its likely impact on the empirical sample gathered in P1.
The study yielded the following findings:
- Parody and remix are significant online consumer activities: on average
there are 24 user-generated parodies available for each original
commercial music video, and parodies in this study had 655 million
- There is no evidence for economic harm to rights holders through either
substitution or reputational damage: the presence of parody content is
correlated with larger audiences for original music videos.
- New creative input by parodists is considerable: most added original
new video recordings and, in 78% of all cases, the parodist appeared on
- There exists a small but growing market for this type of online parody:
parody videos in the study generated up to £2 million in revenue through
advertising, a portion of which was shared with creators and rights
holders. Advertising revenue as a whole was cited as worth £10s of
On the basis of this evidence, the research team recommended that the IPO
and the Government move ahead with a planned copyright exception for
parody, on the grounds that it would offer small but measurable economic
benefits to both rights holders and parodists.
The UK Cabinet Office commissioned and funded two reports by CIPPM to
enable an evidence-based policy on open standards in Government IT
procurement. The reports included an independent review of the legal and
economic issues related to open standards (P4) and an analysis of the
consultation responses (P6).
The review of evidence was led by Weston (BU 2002 to present), alongside
Kretschmer and Piesse (BU 2010 to present). It examined the economic and
legal aspects of introducing an open standards policy for Government IT,
including an appraisal of costs and benefits, showing there are abundant
examples of open standards policy being adopted with significant benefits
and few negative risks (P4).
Following publication, Favale (BU 2013 to present) led on the analysis of
responses to the consultation process (P6). To ensure rigour in the
interpretation of the evidence, CIPPM used a social science approach,
combining grounded theory for identifying patterns of argument and
quantifying these by type of respondent. The research produced statistical
data on the responses and qualitative data on the arguments and themes
emerging. Analysis showed most did not support the need to implement
intellectual property rights on open standards (P6).
References to the research
P5. Weston, S. (2012) Software interfaces — stuck in the middle:
The relationship between the law and software interfaces in regulating and
encouraging interoperability. IIC International Review of Intellectual
Property and Competition Law 43(4): 427-450.
G1. Intellectual Property Office UK. (2011) Government
consultation on Hargreaves review of intellectual property: Work package
4, parody, caricature and pastiche (£16,650). Researchers: Erickson,
Kretschmer and Mendis.
G2. UK Cabinet Office. (2012) Provision of an impact
assessment of the proposed open standards in Government IT policy
(£8,960). Researches: Weston and Kretschmer.
G3. UK Cabinet Office. (2012) Provision of a methodology and
analysis for the UK Government open standards consultation (£5,000).
G4. AHRC. (2013) Evolution in music publishing: Economic
strategies, business models and copyright (£145,000). Researchers: Towse
G5. The Intellectual Property Office. (2013) The provision of
research for 3D printing and intellectual property: Where are we now?
(£60,630). Researchers: Mendis, Secchi, Reeves (Econolyst Ltd) and Merlus
Details of the impact
CIPPM's research brings evidence-based academic rigor to the regulation
of intellectual property, making it an increasingly important resource to
those involved in the legislative process.
Economic effect of parody
The most direct and immediate impact of the parody research was to shape
the language of the new legislation to create a copyright exception for
parody, based on the empirical evidence. Being the first rigorous academic
study of this subject in the UK, the findings of the research were
instrumental to the policy process.
The BU research team recommended that UK policy adopt the widest possible
exception permitted under EU provisions. Such a copyright exception would
allow both commercial and non-commercial parody, and would adopt a wide
definition of parody to include a range of different forms of expression.
The BU research was heavily cited by the Government in its legislative
impact assessment in 2013. The IPO wrote: "The research carried out by
Bournemouth University found that there is no demonstrable harm to the
popularity (and by inference reputation) of original works arising from
spoof or parody videos...An evaluation of potential substitution and
dilution effects found that in neither case was there compelling evidence
that the parody is damaging to the original in terms of the copyright
owner's ability to attract and monetise an audience for their original
copyright work on the online platform" (R2).
In December 2012, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the Government
plans to reform the copyright regime in the UK, introduced in the
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. On 31 July 2013, the Government
published a draft of their proposed changes to the law, including the
exemption from IP copyright on the grounds of parody (R3).
The proposed exception for parody will have significant impacts on a
range of beneficiaries: UK media businesses, advertisers, technology
providers, fans and consumers. The new law will grant the ability for
anyone to create parodies of existing work without requiring permission
from rights holders. While the research clearly shows that there are
minimal economic downsides for rights holders, the potential benefits in
terms of freedom of expression, economic growth and the upskilling of
young people are considerable.
The report was included on the Cabinet Office website when the open
standards principles were launched on 1 November 2012 (R4). Since then,
all Government bodies had to comply with open standards principles for
software interoperability and data and document formats in Government IT
The Government repeatedly cited the CIPPM research in its explanation of
the new policy, first explaining the role the research played in assisting
and informing the legislative process: "The Centre for Intellectual
Property Policy and Management (CIPPM) at the University of Bournemouth
was commissioned to undertake the analysis of the evidence submitted. The
Cabinet Office has published this as an independent report. The
methodology for the analysis is also provided" (R4).
Specific elements of the CIPPM study that informed the decision are as
- The Government reported that the CIPPM study did not suggest the
implementation of IP rights in this field was clearly beneficial (R4).
- When assessing the value of patent protection of software standards
within the policy, the Government considered important issues (such as
patent trolls and patent thickets) flagged by the CIPPM studies (R4).
- As for the alignment with European policies, the Government stated that
its policy was based on the legal and economic evidences of the research
produced by CIPPM (R4).
Members of staff at the Cabinet Office acknowledged that the innovative
approach taken by CIPPM in the analysis of the public consultation helped
the policy process by providing scientific and reliable indicators of the
impact that the policy would have on stakeholders (R6).
In his blog post, `A Question of (Open) Standards', technology writer
Glyn Moody said of the draft review: "As far as I know, it's the first
rigorous, in-depth look at this whole area, and it makes for fascinating
reading." Moody also highlighted several specific points that he
considered worth emphasising (R7).
In addition to the impact on policy makers, beneficiaries of the open
standards work include central government departments, their agencies,
non-departmental public bodies, non-governmental organisations,
professionals, and small, medium and large enterprises. Additionally,
members of the public will benefit from the research when they interface
with governmental bodies.
To summarise, CIPPM's body of research has advanced the role of
transparent, evidence-based policy in the regulation of intellectual
property. With academic rigor at its heart, this research has become an
increasingly important resource to those involved in the legislative
Sources to corroborate the impact
R1. What constitutes evidence for copyright policy? http://www.copyrightevidence.org/create/esrc-evidence-symposium/media/PDF/esrc-evidence-proceedings.pdf
R2. IPO consultation report http://www.ipo.gov.uk/consult-ia-bis1057.pdf
R3. IPO announcement, 31 July 2013. http://www.ipo.gov.uk/techreview-parody.pdf
R4. Open standards consultation documents, November 2012.
R5. Open standards consultation press release, November 2012.
R6. Linda Humphries, Assistant Director, ICT Futures, Cabinet
Office, at the ESRC Social Science Festival `What constitutes evidence for
copyright policy?', 8 November 2012.
R7. Moody, G. (2012) A Question of (Open) Standards, 6
The following contacts can corroborate the impact of the parody study:
R8. Chief Economist, Intellectual Property Office. Contact details
R9. Executive Director, Open Rights Group UK. Contact details
available. Letter referencing the BU study available online https://www.openrightsgroup.org/ourwork/letters/letter-to-lord-younger-on-copyright-reform-and-parody