23 June, 2013

The United Kingdom Looking Ahead with new Copyright Exceptions

In a recent blog post I talked about the possible direction where Australian copyright was heading based on a Discussion Paper released by the Australian Law Review Commission. Well, it seems like the old motherland has awoken from its copyright hibernation in the wake of Australia's steps forward. In an effort to modernize copyright, the UK Intellectual Property Office is seeking opinions based on new potential exceptions which are under consideration: an exception for private copyingparody and quotations. I think each of these potential categories merits examination as to what their current formulation is, and where they could be headed.

Exception for Private Copying

In their plans, the UK Government plans to introduce "...a narrow private copying exception which will allow an individual to copy content they own, and which they acquired lawfully, to another medium or device for their own personal use". What this clearly is is an equivalent for something Australia has already had for some years; format shifting. Provisions such as this will allow you to copy your lawfully bought content, such as music or movies, to a different format - often from a CD onto your MP3 player for example. There is a distinct difference to what the UK approach, at least for now, is when compared to the Australian one. In further expanding on how the copying will extend, the IPO says that "...it would not allow them to make copies of their CDs and give them to other people". If this were to be looked at from a literal perspective, should you make a copy of a CD for your kids to listen to on their iPods, or give a copy of a DVD for your cousin to watch on a Saturday night, you would be infringing copyright. The Australian provision allows for copies to be given to family or people living in your household, but on the condition that those copies are of a temporary nature and not given to keep. If the IPO would only permit the copying for personal use in excluding family they would go against the very principle why they're enacting these additions to begin with: "The exception aims to align the law with behaviour most people consider to be reasonable, to remove unnecessary regulation, and to help build confidence in and respect for copyright"
Steve hasn't quite gotten the hang of "private copying"

Arguably the exception should be shaped to be similar to that of Australia's approach. The Canadian provision only allows for the copying for the individual, much like the potential UK provision, so the direction where this could head is unclear. One could easily predict that the courts could potentially extend the provision to apply to family, but that would remain to be seen. A draft of the section can be found in the document discussing the exception. 

Exception for Parody

An exception that the UK has needed for the past several years, yet again lagging behind its Australian cousins, is the exception to allow for the use of works for parody, caricature or pastiche. As the IPO explained, this would "...give people in the UK’s creative industries greater freedom to use others’ works". If introduced the provision would be included with other fair dealing provisions, so the use would have to be 'fair', preventing the use of works in the veil of parody to purely abuse it for personal gain. A draft of the possible provision can be read in the IPO's documentation as well.

Exception for Quotation

The final exception being introduced is one which would amend the current exception for criticism and review to one allowing for the quotation of material, not merely restricting it to those uses. Broadening the existing fair dealing exception seems like a perfectly sensible option, and in the words of the IPO: "ensure[s] that copyright does not unduly restrict the use of quotations for reasonable purposes that cause minimal harm to copyright owners, such as academic citation or hyperlinking"Should the provision be enacted it would be the first of its kind, as both in Australia and Canada similar provisions relating to criticism and review, on the face of the provisions, would be much more restrictive.

Source: IP-Watch

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