Thursday 5 May 2011

Copyright Tribunal: new regime gets first outing

Archive Media Publishing Ltd v MCPS is the first ruling of the newly-streamlined version of the UK's Copyright Tribunal. Decisions of the tribunal are held on the Intellectual Property Office website and you can find this one here. As Copyright Tribunals go, it's of historical importance, being the first decision under the small applications track, the matter being decided entirely on paper and without a hearing.

The tribunal consisted of Judge Colin Birss QC (whose real job is that of Patents County Court judge), Mrs Sam Madden and Manny Lewis. The dispute itself related to a Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) licence which DVD manufacturer Archive Media accepted as recently as August 2010 but to which it objected shortly thereafter on the grounds that its terms were unfair and discriminatory. The licence required payment of an estimated first-year royalty on monthly pay-as-you-go terms.

The ruling, just 15 sides long, dismissed the licensee's application. MCPS was entitled to require pay-as-you-go payments from a licensee which was a small business with no previous track record. However, it could have explained more effectively why it needed to do so and its terms were by no means clear. MCPS's application for costs is now pending: it has to keep its submission to just two sides and the tribunal reminded it that this was a (bargain basement) paper-based hearing.

1 comment:

Andrew Robinson said...

On a whimsical note, I'm still unable to read a reference to the patents county court without imagining a part of rural England called patents county, with is inhabited mostly by professorish types building unlikely contraptions in sheds. Perhaps I was too keen on Norman Hunter's Professor Branestawm books as a child?