Monday 20 April 2009

'Worst in the world'

Via Hector L MacQueen (Professor of Private Law and Co-Director, AHRC Research Centre Intellectual Property and Technology Law, Edinburgh) comes news of a note in Scottish Legal News on how UK copyright law has been rated the worst in the world. The extract, in relevant part, states:
"The UK's copyright legislation has been rated 'the worst by far' in a survey of 16 countries and as a result millions of unsuspecting consumers are being needlessly criminalised by out-of-date intellectual property laws. 
The Consumers International survey looked at how well each country's copyright law balances the interests of rights holders with those of consumers.

The UK first developed copyright law as long ago as the 16th century [this is arguable ...], but ... as singularly failed to keep up, beating the emerging economies of both Thailand and Argentina to last place.

It is currently a copyright violation to rip a CD that you own on to your PC or iPod ? even though over half of British consumers admit to doing it and think this type of copying is perfectly legal.

Consumer Focus is calling for the Government to introduce of a broad 'fair use' exception to UK copyright law which would be able to adapt to new technical environments over time - an approach already adopted by the US, who came fourth in the survey [broad exceptions: how do these stand vis-a-vis the Berne three-step test?].


A Fair Use exception to the law would protect copyright holders' exclusive rights, while providing exceptions to copying activities that cause no, or minimal economic harm to the rights holders.

This would cover instances where consumers copy to back up files, view at a more convenient time, play on a different device, or simply to share with family and friends".
This piece is a bit disappointing: are there not far better grounds upon which to condemn the UK copyright legislation?  Uncontrolled and unmanageable amendments and renumbering of provisions, bafflingly obscure and impenetrable drafting, the regular need to supplement the text with statutory instruments, the extraordinary arrangement of definitions and definition sections ...

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