The UK’s commercial archive market could be “devastated” and “destroyed” by a government review of intellectual property laws, according to key figures in the sector.

The Hargreaves Review is intended to overhaul copyright legislation to make it simpler for companies to innovate in the digital age.

But industry figures have warned that their businesses are in danger of being wiped out if the proposals are implemented.

Sue Malden, chair of archive trade association Focal, has warned that the review’s “exceptions to copyright” and “extended collective licensing” proposals will undermine an archive’s ability to make money from licensing content.

She said: “If this review goes through, it will destroy the industry that licenses clips of footage for reuse because the exceptions to copyright will widen what people can use without paying for it.”

In addition, the extended collective licensing proposals would allow organisations such as the BFI or the BBC - which might hold material to which they do not own the rights - to license and market footage without needing the rights owner’s consent.

AP Archive director of international archives Alwyn Lindsey said: “For digital content to succeed, you need a robust protection of property. Taking away the protection that exists will be devastating. It will virtually kill the footage business in this country.”

Any loss of income in the archive sector is likely to be felt by post and technology firms, many of which have built up businesses digitising archive material.

An Intellectual Property Office spokesman said the government was considering all responses to the consultation and would publish an update within three months.