Omitting compensation for rightsholders illegal
THE UK GOVERNMANT acted illegally by introducing a new exception to copyright that allowed private copying for personal use, as it failed to provide fair compensation for rightsholders. That was the ruling of the UK High Court in a judicial review on 19 July, brought by the Musicians Union (MU), the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and music industry lobby group UK Music.
The organisations bringing the case had welcomed a revision of the law enabling copying for "private use" but had repeatedly warned the Government of "significant harm" to the rightsholders if compensation was not included, and alerted the Government also to the fact that compensation to rightsholders is required by European law.
The High Court agreed with MU, BASCA and UK Music that the government's case was based on "wholly inadequate evidence." The court observed, crucially, about the "evidence" on which the government relied: "In relation to music the IPO Research Report conspicuously failed to provide an evidence base... but raised instead a series of questions which were never pursued and answered." The government was warned about this back in 2013, by the NUJ and a Select Committee... and by another Parliamentary Committee in May last year...
Back in limbo...
On 17 July Mr Justice Green handed down a final order quashing the Statutory Instrument that implemented the exception to copyright. No referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union was made: so the question of fair payment for authors and performers whose works are copied remains in limbo - as does the status of works copied between October and July.
In joined-up Europe there are levies on the sale price of equipment that can be used to copy creators' works, and income from these is shared through colleting societies.