On 1 June 2014, new copyright exceptions came into force for (i) use by people with disabilities; (ii) research, education, libraries and archives; and (iii) public administration. The Intellectual Property Office published a press release on the new exceptions and has provided various detailed guidance notes to educate consumers and rights owners about the impact of the changes. The 'small but important changes', as they have been termed by the Government, have been drafted to make copyright law more suitable for the digital age.
In summary, the changes to copyright law are as follows:
- disabled people and disability groups can now make accessible copies of copyright material (e.g. music, film, books) when no commercial alternative exists
- researchers will benefit from the introduction of the new exception for text and data mining (automated analytical techniques used for analysing patterns, trends and other useful information) for non-commercial research (which will help the UK's scientific and academic community to deliver new advances in medicine, technology and research without risking copyright infringement), as well as reforms to existing exceptions for non-commercial research and private study that will enable limited copying of all types of copyright works (including sound recordings, films or broadcasts which were not covered before - only literary or artistic works)
- UK copyright law has, for a long time, included exceptions for education in order to allow for effective teaching and learning. The new law has been introduced, however, to reflect advances in digital technology. Schools, colleges and universities can therefore now use copyright material on interactive whiteboards and in presentations using modern teaching equipment (which was not allowed before - only copying by hand e.g. on a blackboard), and as long as they have a licence, they will not need to worry about infringing copyright.
- libraries, archives and museums will now be better able to protect and preserve their material/collections. A copyright exception already existed allowing libraries and archives to make copies of books to preserve them, but the exception did not apply to artistic works, sound recordings or films and did not apply to museums or galleries. The existing preservation exception has therefore been expanded to cover all types of copyright work, and now applies to museums and galleries as well as libraries and archives
- public bodies can now publish material they hold for public inspection online, reducing the costs and administrative burden of having to issues paper copies or requiring people to come to their offices
The relevant regulations are:
The exceptions relating to private copying and parody and quotation, originally envisaged to come into force at the same time as these exceptions on 1 June, have been delayed (but not withdrawn as tweeted by one MP). The Government has indicated that it is committed to introducing the outstanding exceptions once they have been approved by Parliament. The earliest implementation date could be October 2014 but there is a possibility that they will not come into force before the next general election (May 2015). We will keep you updated on developments as and when they happen.