Copyright reform: UK

Written on 19 Dec 2014

Following a protracted series of consultations on reform of copyright, concluding with the realisation that a Member State’s ability to craft its own rules is limited by the Copyright in the Information Society (“InfoSoc”) Directive, a series of changes to the exceptions to copyright were introduced into UK copyright taking effect in June and October 2014.

Several controversial new exceptions have been created. Non-commercial researchers can now benefit from an exception to copyright for text and data mining, enabling the use of data from subscription publications to be collated and analysed without the permission of individual publishers. A right is provided for quotation from a copyright work without needing the copyright owner’s permission, provided the use is fair and reasonable and the source is acknowledged, without the limitation formerly applied to the purposes of criticism and review. And for the first time, individuals have the right to make a private copy for personal use of a copyright work which they have lawfully acquired – something which most UK copyright users believed they already had – although it does not extend to making a copy of the work for family or friends or selling a copy.

Finally, and again aligning the law with rights which users already believed to exist, a parody exception has been introduced. For this exception to apply, the parody must be fair dealing with the work, meaning that a limited, moderate amount of a copyright work commensurate with the purpose of the parody may be used (for example, referencing and building on a copyright work). The fair dealing requirement appears coincidentally to align with the CJEU’s interpretation of parody as an autonomous concept of EU law, in the Deckmyn decision given in September 2014.

In addition, a number of existing exceptions, such as those relating to production of copies accessible to disabled people, and for copying in research, education, libraries, archives and museums and public administration, were extended.

For the full details of the changes to UK copyright law, and a summary of the Deckmyn case, see here.