Wednesday, August 03, 2011

UK to Liberalize and Widen Copyright Exceptions - including Private Copying Exception with No Levy and No Memory Card Tax

The UK will expand the scope of copyright exceptions as follows: 
The Government will bring forward proposals for a
substantial opening up of the UK’s copyright exceptions
regime, including a wide non-commercial research
exception covering text and data mining, limited private
copying exception, parody and library archiving. We will
consult widely on the basis of sound evidence.

Here's an excerpt below, with some reasoning of particular interest to Canadian policy makers - especially the proposal to legalize private copying with no levy. (Meanwhile, back in Canada, the CPCC is trying to rush through its controvesial "memory card tax" at the Copyright Board with extraordinary and undue haste and to start this process going at warp speed in the middle of the summer).


6. “Copying should be lawful where it is for private purposes, or does not damage the underlying aims of copyright…”
There is a fundamental role for copyright in providing appropriate incentives for the creation of valuable works. The Government has no intention of prejudicing this role, on which much value for the UK depends. We nonetheless believe the Review is right to identify activities that copyright currently over-regulates to the detriment of the UK, and to propose changes to tackle the problem (Recommendation 5).
The Government sees the areas where copyright restricts activity to no direct commercial benefit as doubly wasteful: neither new opportunities nor incentive to invest in copyright works result from them. Nor does the Government regard it as appropriate for certain activities of public benefit such as medical research obtained through text mining to be in effect subject to veto by the owners of copyrights in the reports of such research, where access to the reports was obtained lawfully. We recognise that some publishers view licensing of text mining as a legitimate commercial opportunity; however we are not persuaded that restricting this transformative use of copyright material is necessary or in the UK’s overall economic interest. We also share the Review’s concern that a widespread flouting of copyright through private copying in particular brings the law into disrepute: it is not appropriate simply to tolerate unlawful private copying where it is not commercially damaging. For these reasons, the Government agrees with the Review’s central thesis that the widest possible exceptions to copyright within the existing EU framework are likely to be beneficial to the UK, subject to three important factors:

·         That the amount of harm to rights holders that would result in “fair compensation” under EU law is minimal, and hence the amount of fair compensation provided would be zero. This avoids market distortion and the need for a copyright levy system, which the Government opposes on the basis that it is likely to have adverse impacts on growth and inconsistent with its wider policy on tax. [footnote omitted] 
·         Adherence with EU law and international treaties.
·         That unnecessary restrictions removed by copyright exceptions are not re-imposed by other means, such as contractual terms, in such a way as to undermine the benefits of the exception.
The Government will therefore bring forward proposals in autumn 2011 for a substantial opening up of the UK’s copyright exceptions regime on this basis. This will include proposals for a limited private copying exception; to widen the exception for non-commercial research, which should also cover both text- and data-mining to the extent permissible under EU law; to widen the exception for library archiving; and to introduce an exception for parody. We are committed to doing so in ways that do not prejudice the provision of appropriate incentives for creation of works through the copyright system and will consult widely on the basis of sound evidence.

(highlight & underline added)


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