Wednesday, 13 January 2010
No changing of UK copyright law by stealth
The author previously commented on this blog about Clause 17 of the Digital Economy Bill which proposes sweeping powers to amend copyright law to deal with new internet piracy problems, including, for example, allowing the government to create a range of new copyright exceptions in order to reduce infringement by legitimising formerly infringing activities - or conversely, a new series of rights for copyright owners.
Following complaints about the breadth of the powers, last night Lord Mandelson published a series of amendments to Clause 17, seeking to narrow the powers - so amendments can now only be proposed where there is "any infringement of copyright by means of the internet [and the Secretary of State is] satisfied that (a) the infringement is having a serious adverse effect on businesses or consumers, and (b) making the amendment is a proportionate way to address that effect." There is also a new "super-affirmative" process proposed for adopting the new legislation, which is designed to make sure it receives a proper airing in both Houses of Parliament - even if that is something short of a full series of debates on new primary legislation.