Reform of copyright exceptions

Government announces extensive revision of permitted acts

The Government has announced a number of significant reforms to UK copyright law. From October 2013, the number of exceptions to copyright infringement (or permitted acts) on which unlicensed users of copyright works can rely are due to be substantially increased or expanded.

New permitted acts are:

• A private copying exception, allowing copying of any content lawfully owned by an individual to any medium or device owned by that individual, for their own personal use. This protects multiple backing up of purchased MP3 files, for example.

• Fair dealing with quotations, whichwill not be limited to quotation for the purposes of criticism, review or news reporting.  Sufficient acknowledgement of the author of the quoted work will be needed.

• A fair dealing exception allowing limited copying for parody, caricature and pastiche.
• A single non-commercial fair dealing exception for teaching, which will permit the use of copyright works to the extent necessary by way of illustration to teach a subject.  Educational establishments will also be able to make limited reprographic copies of all types of copyright work.

• Non-commercial text and data mining will be permitted: a person who already has a right to access a work will be able to copy the work as part of a technological process of analysis and synthesis of the content of the work for non-commercial research.

It will not be possible for a contract to undermine or waive the right of a user to take advantage of these permitted acts.  Rights holders will, however, still be able to use DRM (digital rights management) to protect against unauthorised copying and these techniques may well prevent permitted acts.

The IPO will start to issue non-statutory “Copyright Notices” to provide guidance on copyright law where there is particular confusion or misunderstanding.

The government will seek “technical comments on the drafting” of its proposed regulations, ahead of the reforms coming into force in October 2013.  The government will then put the reforms through a “Post Implementation Review” to assess the benefits they have achieved.