Interesting copyright times

JUST AS the Freelance went to press the UK government responded to Ian Hargreaves' report on changes to copyright law. It supported all the Professor's proposals, including a "Digital Copyright Exchange". This could be as simple as a voluntary database of who has rights in what work; some want a "one-click shop" for buying licenses online, which raises questions. What if your least favourite political party bought a licence for use that was detrimental to your honour and reputation?

Hargreaves rejected the notion of US-style "fair use" that would mean people went ahead and used your work and neither of you knew whether it was legal until you sued.

The NUJ responded immediately, regretting the government's failureto take up the crucial issues left out of Hargreaves's brief. These include your right to be identified and to defend the integrity of your work. These "moral rights" are essential before any action on either an Exchange or "orphan works" can be contemplated.

Meanwhile, the Irish government is reviewing the country's copyright law, examining - surprise!?- fair use and a Digital Copyright Exchange. The NUJ in Ireland has submitted a strongly-worded response. "Irish copyright law does not go far enough in its protection of creators," it says: "no employer owns the originality of any journalist, whether that originality reflects the diligence of a reporter's research or a particular prose style. Yet these elements are invested in the work the journalist does for the employer. Therefore, the author must be seen as the copyright holder, even when the author is an employee."

In other corners of the creators' rights forest, Judge Denny Chin has given Google and US authors and publishers a deadline of 15 September to come up with a revised, "opt-in" scheme for compensation for books put online through

The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that newspaper headlines and extracts can be protected by copyright - in a case brought by the Newspaper Licensing Agency, which concentrates on paying money to owners rather than to freelances, against Meltwater, which owns "media monitoring" operations that sell lists of headlines.

Belgium's supreme court upheld a similar decision against Google News in May; in July the search engine agreed to stop hiding Belgian papers from its standard web search.

And the UK Supreme Court has ruled that internet service providers must block access to sites that offer links to illicit copies of films - a concept that raises a number of technical problems, which we shall explore online.

And in other news...

Last modified: 08 Aug 2011 - © 2011 contributors
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