UK Government proposes wider copyright fair dealing provisions

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The UK Government has published its proposals for amending the UK Copyright Act to expand fair dealing exceptions. This includes format shifting, without compensation, broader educational and archiving exceptions and a parody right.

The changes follow the review of intellectual property law led by Ian Hargreaves last year.

The issues covered in the UK Government proposal touches on many of the same areas raised in the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of Copyright and the Digital Economy.

According to the proposals: "The UK needs to adapt its strong but rigid framework for copyright into one that is modern, robust and flexible:

• flexible in removing certain barriers to using copyright works, and thus supporting innovation and growth;

• modern in dealing better with the challenges of current and future te chnologies; and

• robust in ensuring there continue to be appropriate incentives for creators and rights holders to carry"

The report goes on to say "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."

Sarah Rodgers, the chair of the UK composers' organisation BASCA, commented: "Composers and songwriters depend on the protection of copyright to enable them to earn a living from their musical works.  Copyright is the legislative framework that for us music writers is the same as being employed - in other words, it's the way that we get paid for the work that we do.  An exception to copyright, without compensation, for us, is employment without payment.  The creative economy is not supported by denying income to its workers. 

“This decision makes songwriters and composers vulnerable to erosion of the value of our creative works and what we are able to earn from their use.  It is wrong from both a commercial and a moral standpoint and puts us out of step with our European counterparts."

The Government plans to introduce legislation next autumn. 

The report can be found here: