Government to propose new copyright exceptions

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04 August 2011

In its response to the Hargreaves Review of the UK intellectual property regime, the Government has indicated that it will make proposals for broadening the exceptions to copyright, including the introduction of new exceptions for limited private copying and parody.

The response acknowledges that current copyright law over-regulates in some areas, and emphasises that "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".  

A limited private copying exception would legitimise format shifting – the practice of making copies of a work on different media, such as ripping a CD to a PC or mp3 player – which at present is technically unlawful but widely tolerated. An exception for parody will also mean that it will no longer be necessary to seek the permission of the copyright owner when creating a parody of a work.

The proposals will also suggest extensions to the existing exceptions for library archiving, and non-commercial research, which would enable the use of research methods such as text and data mining.

In a wider sense, the response broadly agrees with the conclusions reached by the Hargreaves Review, and states that the Government will consult on a number of other recommendations. This will include consideration of how best to facilitate the creation of a Digital Copyright Exchange (an online trading platform for copyright licences), and strengthening the role of the Intellectual Property Office in promoting competitive IP markets and issuing guidance on the interpretation of copyright law. Proposals will also be put forward for the introduction of a scheme to enable the licensing of copyright works whose owner cannot be traced, known as orphan works.

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