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Intellectual Property Office report on copyright

Thu, 10 Jan 2013

On 20 December, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) published “Modernising copyright: a modern, robust and flexible framework”(pdf). This is the Government’s final response to the consultation on how it plans to respond to the recommendations of the Hargreaves Review. Essentially, Hargreaves recommended that the UK should make greater use of copyright exceptions permitted under EU law and the Government will now make the following changes to UK law to permit:

  • People to copy digital content they have bought onto any device they own for their personal use only; format shifting
  • Simplified copyright licensing for education to support the use of whiteboards and distance learning
  • Quotation and news reporting via fair dealing and acknowledgement of the source
  • Parody, caricature and pastiche
  • Research and private study copying to be extended to sound recordings, films and broadcasts
  • Data analytics for non-commercial research
  • Extended exception for people with disabilities to cover all disabilities and all types of works
  • Extended exception for archiving and preservation purposes to include museums and galleries as well as libraries and archives and to cover all types of copyright works in their collections
  • In addition, the IPO will be able to issue Copyright Notices to help clarify the law where there is confusion or misunderstanding of copyright law.


The document has an annex for each of these proposals which set out a summary of the responses to the consultation and how the Government intends to proceed. Annex G, pages 42-43, covers “Copyright exceptions for people with disabilities” and notes the strong support from RNIB, STV and educational organisations for widening the exception and the general agreement by all parties that the exception should only apply where commercial copies in accessible formats are not available. Despite some reservations from rights holders the Government has decided to:

  • Extend the exception to cover all types of disability
  • Extend it to cover all types of copyright work
  • Retain the limitation of the exception only applying where a commercial copy is not available in an accessible format
  • Ensure that the benefits of the exception cannot be overridden by contracts
  • Retain the existing record keeping and notification requirements as rights holders find them useful
  • Retain the right to complain to the Secretary of State when the application of a Technological Protection Measure prevents legal access to the content of the work


In addition, the document states that “The Government will also continue to support work towards an international treaty on improving access to copyright works for visually impaired people.”


The plan is to implement these proposals via Statutory Instruments (SI’s) and to issue draft SI’s for review of their effectiveness in implementing these proposals, not the policy decisions. The intention is that they will come into force in October 2013.
This represents a very satisfactory outcome to the long campaign to extend these exceptions for disabled people and for the other library exceptions. It is right to acknowledge that the longstanding promise from Patent Office/IPO senior staff that they would address the issues concerning disabled people at an opportune moment has been kept. Not only that but they have taken a lot less time than WIPO to do so!

Author: David Owen for Share the Vision