Thursday 20 December 2012

Modernising copyright in the UK - a modern, robust and flexible framework?

It's the year end and so the 1709 bloggers seems destined to be flooded by new proposals and debate about copyright reform. Following on from Iona's report on EU moves, and the UK's Business Secretary's statement on IP (see here and here) comes the latest paper from HM Government titled "Modernising copyright - a modern, robust and flexible framework". Why you ask? Well  following the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, and an extensive consultation process, the Government believes that the copyright framework can be improved "to make the UK a better place for consumers and for firms to innovate, in markets which are vital for future growth".

The Executive Summary says that the response ... has been developed with three principles in mind, these are:

1. The copyright framework must continue to incentivise creators of content and support them in protecting their rights from unlawful use;

2. Where possible barriers to competition and growth should be reduced;

3. There are areas of life where copyright should not interfere.

"After considering the responses to the consultation from a wide range of stakeholders and individuals the Government considers that permitting people to make wider use of copyright works, but with suitable safeguards for rights holders, can make those works more valuable for everyone.  The Government aims to find a balance between the interests of rights holders, creators, consumers and  users by introducing through Parliament a revised framework of boundaries for copyright and related rights in the digital age.

Legitimate users of copyright works, the vast silent majority who pay for works and value greatly the contribution that creators make to their lives, will gain important new rights to use those works.  It should make those works more valuable, and creators and rights owners stand to gain some of that value, particularly where they themselves are innovating.

The interests of creators and owners will continue to enjoy strong protection, including requirements for people to deal fairly with copyright works and robust action against those who acquire or make use of works unlawfully."

In particular the Government plans to modernise "fair dealing" for private copying (format shifting), in education, for quotations and news reporting, for parody, caricature and pastiche, for research and private study, for data analysis for non-commercial research, for access for people with disabilities, for archiving and preservation, and for public administration.

The Executive Summary adds "To ensure that permitted acts have the maximum positive impact, the Government wishes them to be clearly established and readily usable, and to deal effectively with current and emerging technologies.   It wants to shift some of the current uncertainty about whether something can be done lawfully into a question of whether a licence is needed or not." and "Consumers and users who purchase access to content should not have to pay again to store or make use of that content, if it is for their private, non-commercial use."

The Government will publish draft legislation for technical review in 2013. It intends to introduce the measures in the smallest possible number of statutory instruments to minimise disruption to stakeholders, make best use of Parliamentary time and ensure that the revised system is implemented in a clear and consistent manner. The intention is that measures will come into force in October 2013.

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