Joshua Raif /
9 July 2014Copyright

Live: MPs debate copyright exceptions

The UK Parliament is currently debating a second batch of copyright exceptions, with parody and private copying among the hot talking points.

Members of Parliament (MPs) are discussing changes to the UK’s Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 as the government attempts to make its copyright laws more accessible.

Among the significant exceptions being debated is a ruling, similar to the fair use doctrine in the US, which would make caricatures, parody and pastiche exempt from copyright infringement. There are also talks of making private copying of copyrighted work a legal activity.

Addressing MPs today (July 9), Conservative government minister David Willetts, who led the recent IP Bill through Parliament, said he was keen for the exceptions to be updated and ensure they act as an “incentive for creativity”.

“The exceptions have been worded very carefully and narrowly drafted to ensure they do not undermine important role of copyright,” said Willetts.

On private copying, Willetts said it would allow British consumers to enjoy benefits already being felt in countries such as Australia by allowing individuals to make private copies of a work they have purchased.

The exceptions will rule that making a copy of a privately owned work, such as burning a CD, does not constitute infringement provided it is not shared with others.

“Copyright law should not stand in the way of someone enjoying what they have purchased, said Willetts.

“We are clear that we will not allow someone to give or sell a private copy to anyone else. Other EU countries allow copies to be shared among family and friends and, in return, compensation is returned to the right holder but we do not believe such schemes work.”

During this afternoon’s discussions, Iain Wright, a Labour MP and shadow minister for the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills said the wording of the exceptions regarding parody and pastiche was not clear enough.

“It seems to be very imprecise,” Wright said.

“A pastiche celebrates a work and a parody mocks a work so how will it be defined which use is in question?”

Wright referenced the band Happy Mondays and its song ‘Lazyitis’ which he said has a line “borrowed directly”  from The Beatles song ‘Ticket to Ride’, but with different lyrics.

“[John] Lennon and [Paul] McCartney had to get a writing credit on that song, how would something like that apply to this exception?” Wright asked.

The exceptions are part of a wider series of amendments and were originally published by the UK Intellectual Property Office on March 27.

Amendments focussed on research, accessibility and public administration became law on June 1.

The parody, private copying and quotation amendments were delayed after the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments – responsible for scrutinising statutory amendments – said it wanted more time to discuss the issues before they were debated in parliament.

The changes, initially due to be published in October last year, are designed to bring UK copyright law up to date for the digital age and stem from the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, an independent review of the UK IP system.

If approved by both the House of Commons and House of Lords, the amendments are expected to enter into force in time for October 1.

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