June 16, 2014

New exceptions to copyright reflect digital age

The reforms will give a number of sectors a legal framework ready for the digital age, removing the burden of unnecessary regulations and helping the UK better preserve and use copyright material.

Changes from 1 June include the removal of copyright barriers to text and data mining for non-commercial research. This important analytic technique helps the UK’s scientific and academic community to deliver new advances in medicine, technology and research. Other essential changes will help organisations from charities to museums and archives use and protect their own material.

Intellectual Property Minister Lord Younger said: “These common sense reforms will update the UK’s copyright system for the digital age, and help to build and maintain public confidence and respect for copyright.

“These changes bring an end to many instances where people carrying out minor, reasonable acts of copying could have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

“The text and data mining exception is a particularly important step forward for researchers in the UK and will ensure they have the tools that they need to maintain their competitive edge in an increasingly global marketplace.”

The exceptions now in force bring a range of benefits to a wide range of groups:

  • people with disabilities 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 text and data mining exception for non-commercial research, as well as the reforms to existing exceptions that will enable limited copying of all types of copyright works for non-commercial research and private study
  • schools, colleges and universities can now use copyright material on interactive whiteboards and in presentations, and as long as they have a licence, they will not need to worry about accidentally infringing copyright
  • libraries, archives and museums will now be better able to protect our cultural heritage and preserve their collections. The existing preservation exception has been expanded to cover all types of copyright work, and now applies to museums and galleries as well as libraries and archives. Removing the barriers to preservation will save cultural institutions up to £26 million each year
  • public bodies can now publish online the material they hold for public inspection, reducing costs and administrative burden of having to issue paper copies or requiring people to come to their offices

Exceptions for private copying and parody and quotation are also under scrutiny and are expected to be introduced once they have been approved by Parliament.

The Regulations are:

  • the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Disability) Regulations 2014
  • the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Research, Education, Libraries and Archives) Regulations 2014
  • the Copyright (Public Administration) Regulations 2014

Our experts at Royds can provide comprehensive advice on many areas of intellectual property law including the new regulations surrounding copyright legislation. For more information please visit or contact Stephen Welfare and John North.

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