Contested copyright exceptions 'will become law this autumn'

Contested copyright exceptions 'will become law this autumn'

Copyright exceptions relating to private copying and parody are expected to come into force later this year, after being delayed because of concerns about their wording.

The two exceptions to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, were originally due to become law on 1st June, alongside amendments – known as Statutory Amendments (SIs) – on research, accessibility and public administration. But the British Copyright Council (BCC) raised concerns that some of the wording of the SIs failed to meet specific requirements of EU law.

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Industry and Skills said the exceptions were delayed because the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) –responsible for scrutinising SIs – wanted more time to discuss them. “It is not unusual for JCSI to need time to look closely at the full package of instruments,” the spokesperson said. “This is normal procedure and it of course right that the regulations should receive proper scrutiny.”

The government has now reintroduced the amendments on copying and parody. They remain unchanged and will be considered by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) and the JCSI. They will then be debated in the House of Commons and House of Lords. If approved by Parliament, the regulations will be brought into force at “the next available opportunity”, which is expected to be 1st October, the next common commencement date for new laws affecting businesses.

The SI on copying work for personal use says copyright is not infringed if the individual’s own copy is a copy which “has been lawfully acquired by the individual on a permanent basis”, but that copyright is infringed if the individual “transfers a personal copy of the work to another person” unless that is approved by the copyright owner.

The parody SI gives people the right to use a work for parody, pastiche and caricature.

Exceptions on research, accessibility and public administration came into force earlier this month. Intellectual property minister Lord Younger said: “These common sense reforms will update the UK’s copyright system for the digital age, and help to build and maintain public confidence and respect for copyright. These changes bring an end to many instances where people carrying out minor, reasonable acts of copying could have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

“The text and data mining exception is a particularly important step forward for researchers in the UK and will ensure they have the tools that they need to maintain their competitive edge in an increasingly global marketplace.”

When the exceptions were originally released in March of this year, Sam Edenborough, president of the Association of Authors Agents, said the group was “particularly concerned with the new exception created for parody, pastiche and caricature” as defining pastiche could be “very hard”. Richard Mollett, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said the PA would be looking to make sure the guidance for consumers was clear.