'Santa' pens open letter to IPO over fast-tracked copyright changes

'Santa' pens open letter to IPO over fast-tracked copyright changes

Government proposals to fast-track changes in copyright legislation have prompted "Santa" to write the UK Intellectual Property Office, according to IP blog IPKat, which published a tongue-in-cheek "rare letter from Santa Claus" on its website yesterday (21st December).

The "letter" echoes arguments put to the IPO by both authors and the Publishers Association concerning the impact of "irrational" proposals relating to design copyright.

The changes, reported in The Bookseller earlier this month, are set to have "devastating consequences" for the design publishing industry.

A repeal to copyright law, fast-tracked to come into force in April 2016, is set to restrict the use of 2D images of 3D design objects in publishing, such as photographs and illustrations of furniture, textiles, architecture and jewellery, used heavily in books on the history of design. Futhermore, the government has reduced the time publishers have to comply with the new legislation from five years to six months (known as the repeal of section 52) following a judicial review brought by three furniture manufacturers.

The "letter" to Sana Claus said: "I am fairly sure I replied to the Call for Evidence you issued in 2013, and I was informed last February that transitional arrangements were to be put in place, so that section 52 would come into effect in 2020. With that in mind, I purchased large stocks of replica furniture and other design items that were copies of designs first marketed before the 1990s, books about designs (eg Victor Margolin’s World History of Design), and jigsaw puzzles, including a jigsaw puzzle of Art Deco pottery from the 1930s, some designed by Clarice Cliff (1899-1972). We have a budget, and this stuff was well-priced...

"Anyway, I have just heard that you have revoked the provisions and now plan to bring forward the change, so that it will take effect in April 2016, and I will need to have got rid of any stock that I bought after 28th October 2015 by then (and any stock I got before October 2015 by October 2016). This is a real disaster for me. The elves and I always try and abide by the law. But I have only until 23rd Wednesday December to reply, and I am really busy right now."

Signed "S. Claus", 'Santa' aska the IPO: "What has happened? Has the evidence changed? Has the law changed? Nothing in the consultation explains what objectively has changed. All it says is that some design firms sought judicial review.

"I guess I will just have to give all the stuff I bought after October away this Christmas. But to be honest, this hardly seems fair. I never even knew there was a consultation. A consultation is not a parliamentary act."

It concludes: "I have been doing this job a long time; from the look of my beard, probably too long. Bringing happiness to people at Christmas doesn’t ever seem to get any easier, especially on the legal side. If the IPO felt that it would like to give me as Christmas present, the thing I would most appreciate is if you had a big re-think about these proposals."

The post, entitled "Santa Claus’s submission on the IPO Consultation on Transitional Arrangements for the Repeal of Section 52", was written by Dr Eleonora Rosati, deputy editor of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP) and lecturer in intellectual property law at Southampton University.

Acknowledged authorities in IP, professors Lionel Bently, University of Cambridge, and Graeme Dinwoodie, University of Oxford, will make "lengthier submissions" to the IPO in opposition, the post also indicates. Both academics' opinions were referred to in the PA's formal submission, reported yesterday (21st December).

The final deadline for consultation submissions is 23rd December.