Government Announces New Copyright Exceptions

The Government has published its plans for further copyright exceptions in line with recommendations in the Hargreaves Review. It intends to bring the following exceptions into force in October 2013:

  • Private copying: People will be allowed to copy material they own for their personal use, but not to share copies with other people (eg friends or family). This will apply to all types of private storage and all types of copyright work.
  • Quotation, reporting current events, and speeches: Fair uses of quotations will be allowed for purposes other than those currently allowed (criticism, review and reporting current events), with acknowledgement of sources. Existing news reporting and speeches exceptions will not be amended. Photographs will remain outside the scope of the news reporting exception as unlicensed use of a photograph to report current events would rarely be fair.
  • Parody, caricature and pastiche: Parody will be allowed on a fair dealing basis, subject to the existing moral rights regime which protects authors of works from derogatory treatment. Parodists currently risk infringement claims if they reproduce a “substantial part” of a work – which is often difficult to avoid in a parody.
  • Research and private study: Sound recordings, films and broadcasts will be brought within the scope of this existing exception which already allows non-commercial research and private study of some types of work. Educational institutions, libraries, archives and museums will be allowed to give access to works on their premises by electronic means at dedicated terminals.
  • Data analytics: Automated analytical techniques currently require a copyright licence as they typically work by bulk copying entire works (eg journal articles). It will no longer be an infringement of copyright for a person who has a right to access a work to copy the work as part of a technological process of analysis and synthesis of the content of the work for the sole purpose of non-commercial research.
  • Education: The current regime of exceptions for educational purposes will be simplified and modernised. The new exceptions will apply to all organisations and individuals, not only those which the Copyright Act defines as educational establishments.
  • People with disabilities: The current exceptions will be broadened and simplified, to include people with all types of disability and all types of copyright work.
  • Archiving and preservation: The current exception, which applies only to libraries and archives, will be extended to museums and galleries. The exception will now apply not only to literary, dramatic and musical works, but to any type of copyright work including films, broadcasts, sound recordings and artistic works (including photographs).
  • Public administration: The current exception will be extended to allow public bodies to make third party material available online. This will only apply to unpublished works and works that are already available for public inspection.

The Government has decided, at least for the time being, not to amend or introduce any exceptions in the following areas:

  • Recording and reproducing broadcasts in social institutions such as hospitals.
  • Use of copyright materials during religious or official celebrations.
  • Use relating to the sale or exhibition of artistic works.
  • Use relating to the demonstration or repair of equipment.

To the extent legally possible the Government proposes to provide that licensors of copyright works cannot contractually undermine permitted acts.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is to introduce a non-statutory system for providing basic guidance in the form of “Copyright Notices” tailored for non-experts. The IPO will provide more detail on how this scheme will work.

The Government’s aim is “to make the UK a better place for consumers and for firms to innovate, in markets which are vital for future growth.” Some of these changes are relatively uncontroversial, even with most rights owners, and are in areas which are rarely litigated. But expect future cases, probably in the Patents County Court (or Intellectual Property County Court as it will soon be rebranded), concerning the scope of more contentious exceptions such as quotation and parody.

Bulletins are for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters. Where reference is made to Court decisions facts referred to are those reported as found by the Court. Please note that past bulletins included in the Archive have not been updated by any subsequent changes in statute or case law.