On 1 June 2014, five new copyright exceptions came into force in the UK, allowing:

  • disabled people and disability groups to make accessible copies of copyrighted material where no commercial alternative exists;
  • researchers and others to benefit from the introduction of the newtext and data mining exception for non-commercial research;
  • schools, colleges and universities to use copyrighted material oninteractive whiteboards and in presentations (provided they have obtained the relevant licence);
  • libraries, archives and museums to better protect and preserve their collections (as the preservation exception now covers all types of copyrighted work and now applies to museums and galleries as well as libraries and archives); and
  • public bodies to publish the material they hold for public inspection online

The exceptions for private copying, parody and quotation have been delayed and are now due to come into force on 1 October 2014. The reason for the delay appears to be purely that Parliament ran out of time to debate these, the broadest and most far reaching exceptions. Certainly, no material changes have been made to the draft legislation.

The draft private copying exception will permit consumers who have lawfully acquired a lawful (i.e. non-infringing) copy of a work (other than a computer program) to reproduce that copy for their own private and non-commercial use. Therefore, acts of format-shifting and backing up of copies will now be permitted. This legislation therefore expressly permits acts which to date have constituted copyright infringement but in reality not been actioned by copyright owners.

Unlike other EU Member States which have already introduced a private copying exception, the UK is not introducing a private copying levy. The UK therefore remains in the minority of Member States which do not impose copyright levies on recordable media and recording devices.

The proposed  new exception relating to quotation will permit the use of extracts of copyright works for those purposes not already covered by the existing exception for criticism, review and reporting current affairs. The proposed exception for parody will address the fact that at present copyright law restricts the ability to parody works of others and as such can be seen as restricting freedom of expression.

Bar the public inspection exception, it is not possible to contract out of the new exceptions:  the newly enacted and pending exceptions provide that any contractual term purporting to prevent or restrict the doing of a permitted act is unenforceable. This bar on contracting out does not apply to existing defences/exceptions.