The term of copyright protection under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) in the UK for an artistic work is life of the creator plus 70 years. However, section 52 of the CDPA, which relates to the exploitation of design derived from artistic work, provides for an exception which effectively limits the term of copyright protection to 25 years if the article is mass produced, with the copyright owner's consent, by use of an industrial process.

An equivalent exception to the term of copyright protection for artistic works was introduced in Ireland in the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 by section 89(e) of the Industrial Designs Act, 2001.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which passed into law yesterday, repeals Section 52 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). The effect of the repeal means that copyright applies for the life of the creator plus 70 years to artistic works manufactured on the industrial scale, the same period of protection that applies to all other copyright works. The provision is understood to have been introduced in order to bring UK legislation in line with other EU member states. In particular, following the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Flos .v. Semeraro (Case C-169/08), the UK Government considers section 52 to be inconsistent with the Copyright Term Directive.

There is no similar proposal to repeal the equivalent provision in Ireland at present, which will remain one of only three member states in the European Union, (namely Romania and Estonia) with such a provision.