Copyright in the spotlight

Posted on: September 7th, 2015

In October 2014, the Secretary of State introduced a private copying exception which allowed individuals to make copies of copyright works for their own personal, non-commercial use.

This covered works such as literature, drama, music, art, sound recordings, films and broadcasts.  It was intended to allow limited individual use but there were always concerns that it would be exploited.

These concerns have manifested themselves in a recent judicial review of this decision and the exception has now been overruled.  Individuals making copies of copyright works, even for their own private use, may well be infringing others’ copyright and could be liable to a claim for compensation.  This would include copying the music from a CD to a laptop or other media device or copying works purchased and downloaded online.

Allegations of copyright infringement seem to be very popular at the moment; as well as the removal of the exception above there have been a number of high-profile disputes in the media, including:

  • disputes over the copyright to the “Happy Birthday” song in the US;
  • allegations that the proposed design for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games infringes the copyright of a motif designed for the Belgian Theatre De Liege; and
  • complaints by copyright owners that no licence was granted for the use of the music from The Sound of Music’s “The Hills Are Alive” in a short parody advert created by the BBC to promote the Great British Bake Off.

What this does highlight is that businesses should be aware of their use of copyright work to ensure that no inadvertent breaches are committed but also to be aware of any copyright which they may wish to protect.

If you have any concerns regarding your use of copyright works or use of your copyright, please contact our Dispute Resolution Team.