As a part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, the UK Government announced the repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA). It has now announced the transitional provisions through which the change in law will come into effect.

Repeal of section 52

By way of recap, the repeal of section 52 means the period of copyright protection for an artistic work, which has been industrially manufactured, will be extended from 25 years to the life of the artist plus 70 years. This will mean that duration of copyright protection for such industrially manufactured artistic works will be significantly extended so that it is the same as that afforded to other artistic works. Naturally, this is good news for designers. It will also harmonise protection in the UK for such industrially exploited works with protection given elsewhere in Europe.

Restoration of copyright protection

Another positive for designers is that the change has retrospective effect and industrially exploited designs whose copyright protection had expired under the 25 year rule will have copyright protection 'restored'. Naturally this has an impact on third parties who may have been acting in reliance on the expiry of such copyright. Therefore, to be fair to all stakeholders, transitional provisions are necessary, to allow such third parties to alter their business practices, including to allow sufficient time to sell off their existing stock.

Transitional provisions

Following a public consultation, the UK Government has announced that it will implement the following transitional provisions:

  • Repeal of section 52 of the CDPA will take effect on 06 April 2020.
  • Express provision has been made to ensure that following the repeal, parties that are currently trading in copies will have an indefinite period to sell off their stock, and may freely deal with copies made prior to the change of the law without this being an infringement.
  • Manufacture or importation of new unlicensed copies will however be unlawful as of 06 April 2020.

The UK Government also intends to issue a guidance note on the change to the law.