Taking exception

THE UK government in June and July released eight proposals for extending the "exceptions" to copyright - the conditions under which your work can be used without permission or payment. These cover new exceptions for "private copying"; for "parody, caricature and pastiche"; and for "data analysis for non-commercial research". It is proposed to replace the current exception for "review and criticism" with a wider "quotation" exception. And there are amendments to the exception for educational uses, for "public administration", for research, libraries and archives, and for people with disabilities.

The NUJ has put in the strongest possible comments to the first seven of these; the deadline for comment on the disability proposal is 11 September. "Strongest possible," because the government declared that its consultation on these would be purely "technical" - only comments on whether they implemented the policy announced in December 2012 would be accepted.

The Creators' Rights Alliance, of which the NUJ is a member, therefore wrote a separate letter to the Minister pointing out why the policy remains wrong. Of most concern are the "private copying" and educational exceptions.

The proposal on "private copying" is that it be legitimised - a good thing - but without the "fair compensation" mandated in EU law - a bad thing. As drafted, it risks creating loopholes for so-called "sharing" of works that should be paid for - equally bad.

The education proposal is too subtle for its own good and also creates a risk of loopholes which would reduce payments to creators through collecting societies such as alcs.co.uk and dacs.org.uk - a source of income to journalists whose works are copied in educational establishments.

The proposal for "data analysis for non-commercial research" is an odd one. The government's earlier consultations, and the resulting policy, were about scientific researchers being able to get computer programs to scan through the text of scientific research papers. The proposal presented covers all works, and fails to address the "database right" in a collection of works.

So the proposal would allow lots of things that policy does not say should be allowed, but almost none of the things that should be. In common with other organisations - and even some representatives of the real researchers who would benefit from the changes - the NUJ has suggested the government take a pause and come back with a "respectable" proposal.

The government intends to respond to the "technical consultation" in the autumn - when they will also produce detailed proposals on "extended collective licensing" and orphan works licensing.

For links to the proposed changes to "exceptions" on copyright, and to the full responses see creatorsrights.org.uk/?page=xceptions

Last modified: 07 Aug 2013 - © 2013 contributors
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