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Government publishes copyright reform proposals

By | Published on Thursday 20 December 2012


Just in time for Christmas and everything. The government has published its proposals for amending the UK copyright act in response to the much previously reported review of intellectual property law led by Ian Hargreaves last year.

Many of the changes expand fair dealing exceptions (what would be called ‘fair use’ in many other jurisdictions), ie circumstances where users can make use of copyright material without licence. This includes private copying, or so called format shifting, without compensation, and a parody right similar to (but probably not as wide-ranging) that which already exists in the US.

Many in the music rights and other copyright industries oppose the extension of fair dealing rights, and will not like the new parody right or the idea of a private copy right being introduced without compensation to rights owners (ie the sort of private copy levy that exists in other European countries).

The music and other copyright industries pre-empted the report earlier this month with their ‘Licensing UK’ document, which argued that rather than expanding the number of fair dealing exemptions, a simpler licensing system could enable users to make use of copyright material in those circumstances identified by Hargreaves without the existing complications, but without content owners giving up rights.

The government’s plan is to now make the proposals set out in today’s report law through secondary legislation next autumn. No more formal consultation will take place, except on ‘technical matters’, though the content industries lobbyists will presumably be hoping to reduce the scope of the fair-dealing reforms in parliament.

You can read the report here.

You can read responses to the report from the music industry here.