In a previous bulletin we reported on the publication of the Gowers Review, the biggest Government-sponsored review of UK intellectual property for years. Now the UK IP Office has published a consultation on how the Review’s recommendations on exceptions to copyright might be implemented in the UK.

The proposals are to: 

  • amend the educational exceptions to allow distance learning students to receive and view recordings and showings of broadcasts remotely and to allow educational establishments to communicate passages from published works using interactive whiteboards and electronically to distance learners (Recommendation 2) 
  • introduce a format-shifting exception to allow consumers to copy legitimately purchased content from one format to another (for example CD to MP3) (Recommendation 8)
  • provide a new exception for parody, caricature and pastiche (Recommendation 12)
  • extend the exception for research to cover all forms of content, not just literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works (Recommendation 9)
  • expand the exception for libraries and archives to allow copies of sound recordings, films and broadcasts to be made for the purpose of preservation and replacement (in addition to copies of literary, dramatic or musical works) and to allow such bodies to format shift and allow successive copying, to overcome the problem of unstable media (Recommendations 10a and 10b).

The Government committed to consulting widely on the recommendations to ensure that the UK’s copyright laws remain globally competitive in a rapidly changing, digital world, but is yet to formulate its policy on the matters covered by the paper. It will be a challenge for it to do so, for a number of the proposals – including, for example, the lack of any compensation to rightsholders for the introduction of the format-shifting exception – are proving controversial.