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Ministers to promote copyright law changes

27 December 2012

Changes to UK copyright law to create an additional range of circumstances when protected works may be legitimately copied have been announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The new measures include provisions to allow copying of works for individuals’ own personal use, parody and for the purposes of quotation. They will also bring up to date existing exceptions for education, research and the preservation of materials.

In making the changes, which follow an extensive consultation process, the Government is taking forward the approach of the Hargreaves review, which recommended that the UK make greater use of exceptions allowed under EU law.

More specifically the changes will mean that:

  • People will be allowed to copy digital content they have bought onto any medium or device that they own, such as transferring their music collection or e-books to their tablet, phone or to a private cloud – provided it is strictly for their own personal use.
  • Copyright licensing for the education sector will be simplified, making it easier for teachers to use copyright materials on interactive whiteboards and similar technology in classrooms, and provide access to copyright works over secure networks to enable distance learning handouts for students.
  • In relation to news reporting, a more general permission for quotation of copyright works will be permitted for any purpose, as long as the use of a particular quotation is “fair dealing” and its source is acknowledged.
  • Limited copying on a fair dealing basis will allow genuine parody – but not copying disguised as parody.
  • Sound recordings, films and broadcasts will be allowed to be copied for non-commercial research and private study purposes without permission from the copyright holder. This includes both user copying and library copying.
  • Non-commercial researchers will be able to use computers to study published research results and other data without copyright law interfering.
  • People with disabilities will have the right to obtain copyright works in accessible formats where a suitable one is not already on the market.
  • Museums, galleries, libraries and archives will be allowed to preserve any type of copyright work that is in their permanent collection which cannot readily be replaced.
  • Existing exceptions will be widened to enable more public bodies to share proactively third party information online, which would reflect the existing position in relation to the use of paper copies.

In addition the Government will introduce a new, non-statutory system for clarifying areas where there is confusion or misunderstanding on the scope and application of copyright law, through copyright notices issued by the Intellectual Property Office. These notices will be intended to clarify the law, but not make new law

Mr Cable said: “Making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only common sense but good business sense. Bringing the law into line with ordinary people’s reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright, on which our creative industries rely.

“We feel we have struck the right balance between improving the way consumers benefit from copyright works they have legitimately paid for, boosting business opportunities and protecting the rights of creators.”

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