10 May 2014

Are they having a laugh? Copyright parody and private copying exceptions delayed

Private copying and parody exceptions from UK copyright law that were due to come into effect on 1 June 2014 have been delayed, the government has announced.

The changes were recommended by Professor Ian Hargreaves in his 2011 review of intellectual property law to make the UK's copyright regime better understood and more acceptable to the public. 

In particular, they would permit individuals to do what many are already doing by shifting the format of a piece of music or video for personal use (eg rip a CD to mp3).  

The exceptions would also legalise the use of copyright material in parody. A well-known local example is "Newport State of Mind", a parody of the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys hit "Empire State of Mind", which includes lyrics such as: 

"Newport ... Chips, cheese, curry makes you feel brand new / Washed down with a Special Brew".

But no, we are to be deprived of enjoying such gems legally a little while longer because the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments "has some questions" which it wants to discuss with the government.

It is not known exactly what those questions might be. However, it is thought they might relate to whether European law will require a private copying levy to be introduced in the UK to compensate rights-holders, and, in the case of parody, what exactly "parody" means and how much content from the original work can be copied. 

Three other exceptions - which will relate to the reporting of administrative proceedings; research, education, libraries and archives; and benefiting people with disabilities - are still expected to come into force on 1 June 2014.

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