The Society of Authors (SoA) has raised concerns with the draft legislation produced as part of the government’s review into copyright, following the Hargreaves Review.
The SoA has responded to the Intellectual Property Office’s technical review of the draft legislation, alongside other bodies including the Publishers Association.
Nicola Solomon, chief executive of the SoA, said: “We have raised a number of concerns. Some of these issues just need clearer language, but we feel some go so far as to go beyond European law.”
She said one of the key issues was how the draft legislation covered fair dealing and quotations, giving a broader scope than is currently allowed. The SoA’s commentary to the review said: “In all respects the new wording makes things more confusing and less clear than the previous wording, to no obvious benefit.”
Solomon said: “It is a technical issue, but the exceptions are the point of balance between how much of another person’s work someone can use without acknowledging or paying for it. It is the balance between authors getting remunerated for their creative efforts or not.” She added: “It is in everyone’s interest to have a solid grounding for copyright.”
Richard Mollet, PA chief executive, agreed that the wider scope of fair dealing would lead to problems. In a comment piece for The Bookseller, he said the terms must be properly defined: “If there is to be more so-called fair dealing, allow elected MPs and parliament to define it, rather than insouciantly relyng on rights-holders bringing expensive cases to the high court to arrive at definitions of vague terms like ‘pastiche’.”
The SoA has also taken issue with a provision in the draft legislation that would make contracts which seek to restrict the new exceptions unenforceable. Its response said: “The Society of Authors is strongly opposed to this provision in each case and adopts the Publishers Association’s reasons: it represents a dramatic change to UK contract law which is of enormous import and consequence to rights-holders. It should therefore at least be subject to full debate by Parliament, rather than part of a statutory instrument which may only receive cursory attention on its way through legislative proceedings.”
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