Reforms relax copyright rules

New measures designed to modernise the UK’s intellectual property (IP) framework have come into force.

The reforms to copyright exceptions, which took effect on 1 October, enable limited use of copyright works without the permission of the copyright owner. The measures aim to support the reasonable use of creative content in the digital age, without undermining the role of copyright in protecting the work of the creative industries.

Among a range of changes, people can now legally make personal copies of content they have bought, such as a CD or ebook, as a back up or for formatting for their own private use, e.g. transferring a CD collection onto an MP3 player.

A new exception to copyright for the purposes of parody caricature, pastiche purposes and improvements to the rules on how quotations can be used has also been introduced. This recognises the ability and reality of digital creation and re-mixing seen on sites such as YouTube.

Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “These changes are going to bring our IP laws into the 21st century. They will mean that the UK IP regime will now be responsive to the modern business environment and more flexible for consumers.”

Other key intellectual property reforms that came into force on 1 October include:

  • the Intellectual Property Act 2014, designed to help simplify and strengthen protection for the UK design industry and improve the efficiency of the IP rights system
  • the creation of a criminal offence for intentional copying of a registered design
  • new protections for pre-publication research
  • allowing a company to provide a web address rather than more detailed information about the patent status of a product
  • the expansion of the patent opinions service, providing quick and affordable opinions on a wider range of patent disputes

While the changes to the rules on exceptions will give greater access to copyrighted material, the situations where this is allowed are very specific and access is intended to be limited, to continue to protect the copyright holder. It will remain the case that the use of copyrighted material outside of these limited exceptions is unlawful.

Anyone seeking clarification or who believes heir copyright has been breached and wishes to take steps to rectify or prevent this, may find it helpful to seek expert legal advice. For more information, please contact BJ Chong or Matthew Johnson.