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Copyright Quotation Exception to be Extended

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Government’s proposed changes to current copyright law will give greater scope for organisations to use quotations for purposes such as criticism and review.

Furthermore, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) suggests that quotations may also be used for purposes other than, but similar to criticism and review.

It is a move that seeks to better align UK law with EU and international law and harmonise the approach to copyright infringement.

Hargreaves Review Copyright Law Recommendations

Following the Hargreaves Review on intellectual property and growth, the Government accepted recommendations to modernise among other things, copyright laws. The proposed quotation exception will enable media outlets for example, to re-use copyrighted material for purposes such as criticism and review, subject to a certain conditions.

The draft legislation states that quotations may be used for ‘purposes such as criticism or review’ but is not supported by further guidance. It will therefore be in the court’s discretion to decide what other purposes fall within the quotation exception.

The broad aim is to ensure that copyright does not unduly restrict the use of quotations for reasonable purposes that cause minimal harm to copyright owners such as academic citation, without undermining the general protection provided for copyright works.

Altering the Fair Dealing Exception

The proposal to alter the existing ‘fair dealing exception’ and to implement a new ‘general fair dealing quotation exception’ will mean that any quotation used by an organisation must be used in accordance with ‘fair practice’ and be ‘necessary’ for the specific purpose which it is required.

Under new legislation, quotations used for the purposes of criticism or review will not infringe the copyright owner’s rights where the material has already been made public. This is providing the owner of the original work is acknowledged and the use of the material complies with the principle of ‘fair dealing’.

Modernising Intellectual Property Law

The general exception for quotation of copyright works is an attempt to modernise intellectual property law. Minor uses of copyright material as mentioned above such as references and citations in academic papers will be permitted, along with more modern forms such as short quotations on internet blogs or tweets as long as they are fair. However, photographs will continue to be excluded from news reporting provisions, as they are at present.

The proposed changes to legislation will have a significant impact on businesses. The amendments will prevent organisations from drafting contracts to restrict or prevent others exercising their right to re-use quotations. Contracts containing such clauses will be deemed unenforceable.

For more information regarding copyright law, Rollingsons has experienced intellectual property solicitors who can assist you. For more information please contact James Crichton via e-mail or by telephone on 0207 611 4848.