The UK Intellectual Property Office has moved to reassure photographers that changes to the copyright system announced by the Queen and Gordon Brown's government will not drastically affect them
Earlier this week, the UK government announced plans to make changes to copyright licensing in an effort to simplify access to work of arts. The announcement was made by the Queen in her traditional speech to the House of Lords and House of Commons. Photographers were worried that the changes could diminish their rights.
The Digital Economy Bill is based on recommendations made by the IPO, earlier this month. In its proposal the IPO had asked for the non-commercial use of copyright to be simplified.
However, the IPO has now explained that this recommendation is unlikely to be part of the proposed bill.
In regards to licensing, the IPO tells BJP, the government proposes 'a number of recommendations intended to facilitate the licensing of copyright works, enabling access to copyright material to those who want to use it and ensuring copyright owners are involved in the process of enabling access.'
The IPO adds that the two licensing recommendations intending to simplify to copyright licensing system are:
'This will allow a collecting society that represents a substantial proportion of rights holders to licence specific uses of a work for all rights holders in a particular category without the specific consent of individual rights holders. A rights holder will retain the ability to say no to this scheme and opt out of a collecting society's extended repertoire.'
The IPO tells BJP that a full discussion and consultation will take place 'when we consider how the system should operate,' it says in a statement to BJP. 'At present, those who deal in orphan works, however good their motives are (this includes some museums) may be committing both civil and criminal copyright offences. We need to work out a sensible efficient and low cost system for legalising access to these works.'
As for non-commercial use, the government makes 'a recommendation which recognizes the changing nature of consumption,' the IPO says. 'The government does not recommend that all non-commercial use of copyright material should be allowed (and indeed this could not be implemented in the UK without significant legal change at European level) but instead, wants to see Europe considering options that would benefit consumers. This could include an exception for non-commercial use.'
However, the IPO stops short of defining what constitute non-commercial use. 'Any definition of non-commercial use would be drawn up at a European level,' it says. However, the IPO adds that 'at no point is it envisioned that an individual will be able to do whatever they wish with copyright material. Instead, an individual would be able to do more with work that they have legitimately purchased or obtained.'
Finally, the government intends to develop further educational programmes. 'The government has pursued a number of educational initiatives e.g. 'Wallace and Gromit Present a World of Cracking Ideas' and the CREATE Group as well as developing educational material on intellectual property for schools, the IPO says. 'We expect that these initiatives, and others like this, will continue and will have a significant impact on the public awareness of copyright.'
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