Copyright law plays 'catch-up' with real life
Copyright law is playing 'catch-up' with real life.
However, new government measures will soon allow people to use copyrighted material without obtaining permission from copyright owners first.
The sweeping changes, which are due to be introduced later this year, will also update current copyright exceptions for education, research and the preservation of materials.
The reforms come after the government accepted the wide-ranging recommendations of an intellectual property review carried out in 2012 by Ian Hargreaves, Professor of Digital Economy at Cardiff University.
The report, entitled Digital Opportunity, warned that existing intellectual property laws were "falling behind what is needed" to stimulate the economy.
Historic first for copying digital material
Under the new copyright law framework, people will be permitted to copy purchased digital content to any device, provided it is done for personal use. This means that, for the first time ever, people will be legally entitled to transfer their personal music collection or e-books to their tablet, Smartphone or to cloud storage.
Consumer groups have provided ringing endorsements of the changes to the law. Mike O'Connor, chief executive of Consumer Focus, said: "When consumers have paid for music or other digital material, they should be allowed to copy it for their own use. It is absurd that private copying, such as transferring a CD to an MP3 format, is a copyright infringement under current UK law."
In broader law reforms, medical researchers will be granted greater rights to mine data from reports, comedians will be able to use film and television clips to poke fun without fear of breaking the law and teachers will be permitted to use copyrighted works on interactive whiteboards and similar classroom technology.
Bringing copyright law into the 21st century
The government predicts the changes could add at least £500m to the UK economy over the course of the next 10 years. The business secretary, Vince Cable, said: "Making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only common sense, but good business sense. Bringing the law into line with ordinary people's reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright, on which creative industries rely."
Cable added, "We feel we have struck the right balance between improving the way consumers benefit from copyright works they have legitimately paid for, boosting business opportunities and protecting the rights of creators."
In all likelihood, the new copying regime could mean that real life can no longer say "catch me if you can" to the copyright law that governs it.
- Last Updated on 16/01/2013