Copyright chaos again

THE GOVERNMENT'S plans to extend the "exceptions" to copyright - the conditions under which your work may to be used without permission or payment - descended into chaos in mid-May.

Following representations by the British Copyright Council and the Creators' Rights Alliance - to both of which the NUJ belongs - the parliamentary Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) told the government, as we understand it, that it did not believe the proposed measures on quoting and parodying works, and on making "private copies", were well-formed or in accordance with European or international law.

The NUJ wrote to the JCSI on 12 May, querying the proposals for "quotation" of photographs. The point on the latter is that no-one knows what it would mean. So if the measures were passed as is, photographers and illustrators would have to fund court cases to find out what the law meant.

Three sets of changes to copyright law were passed:

  • extending the exception for the benefit of people with disabilities;
  • extending the exception for "public administration" to allow the government, for example, to put copyright material submitted to committees of inquiry online; and
  • extending the exception for educational use, for example to allow use of extracts of works in media other than print for illustration.

That last has caused most worry. Probably, schools and colleges will continue to pay for licences to be sure that they can continue to use larger extracts.

We hear that the government plans to come back with the quotation/parody and private-copying Regulations in the Autumn. Efforts continue to persuade it to make more than token changes.

Meanwhile the government produced its responses to consultations on draft Statutory Instrument setting up a machinery for "Extended Collective Licensing", and for licensing so-called "orphan works". On first reading the mood music is good: the documents bends over backward to reassure creators (including journalists and photojournalists). The NUJ is preparing responses on remaining issues, such as how long someone wanting to license the use of a work as orphan would have to wait after placing it on a proposed register, which authors could scan to check for their works.

Last modified: 15 Jun 2014 - © 2014 contributors
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