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Rules on new private copying, parody and quotation rights reintroduced for parliamentary scrutiny

A new private copying exception and new qualified rights to use copyrighted material in works of parody and in quotations could be in force from October.

Two draft statutory instruments containing the proposed changes to UK copyright laws have been reintroduced before parliament for scrutiny.

The proposals, which can only be approved or rejected and not amended at this stage, would take effect from 1 October if they receive the support of MPs.

The draft regulations before parliament are identical to those that were previously introduced but which were temporarily withdrawn last month. At the time intellectual property minister Viscount Younger of Leckie said that the draft regulations on private copying and on parody and quotation rights had been withdrawn because the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, which had been scrutinising the proposals, had "some questions about the ... exceptions" that they wanted to discuss further with the government.

Under the proposed private copying exception, individuals in the UK would be given a new right to make a copy of copyrighted material they have lawfully and permanently acquired for their private use, provided it was not for commercial ends. Making a private copy of the material in these circumstances would not be an act of copyright infringement, although making a private copy of a computer program would still be prohibited under the plans.

Intellectual property law expert Emily Swithenbank of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, previously said the new private copying right "will legalise actions which the majority of the public generally would not have realised were unlawful", such as copying music from a CD they have purchased onto an iPod, or making a back up copy of a film.

However, the proposals allow rights holders to legitimately deploy "restrictive measures" which prevent private copies of their work from being made.

Consumers can, though, raise a complaint about the restrictive measures with the UK's Business Secretary who would have the power to order rights holders to allow individuals to exercise their right to a private copy of the works.

In assessing consumers' complaints, the Business Secretary would have to assess whether the measures rights holders have deployed are reasonable on the basis that rights holders can restrict the number of personal copies which can be made of their material and with a view to "whether other copies of the work are commercially available on reasonable terms ... in a form which does not prevent or unreasonably restrict the making of personal copies".

The proposed new parody exception would create a new 'fair dealing' right to use copyrighted material in works of caricature, parody or pastiche. UK courts have determined a number of factors for determining whether the use of a copyrighted work is 'fair', including an assessment of whether use of the copied material affects the market for the original work and whether the amount of the material copied is reasonable and appropriate.

The proposed quotation right would, if introduced, allow copyrighted material to be used in a quotation provided that "the work has been made available to the public, the use of the quotation is fair dealing with the work, the extent of the quotation is no more than is required by the specific purpose for which it is used, and the quotation is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement (unless this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise)".

Quoting from a copyrighted performance or recording will also be a permitted act, under the plans, so long as "the performance or recording has been made available to the public, the use of the quotation is fair dealing with the performance or recording, and the extent of the quotation is no more than is required by the specific purpose for which it is used".

Other changes to UK copyright laws recently came into force. They include a new right for researchers to conduct text or data mining of published content for non-commercial purposes providing they have lawful access to the material.

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