The UK Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill has been given Royal Assent, bringing several changes to UK copyright law.
Copyright changes outlined in the bill include removing copyright exceptions for mass-produced artistic works; reducing the copyright term for transitional un-published works; extending the copyright terms for sound recordings from 50 to 70 years and changes to the licensing of orphan works.
The changes to licensing orphan works means organisations such as UK museums will now have to pay upfront to license orphan works where the rights holder cannot be located or is unknown, rather than paying when a rights holder steps forward.
House of Lords member Lord Howarth opposed the change and tabled an amendment to the bill on March 11, but his proposals received 214 votes against and only 194 for.
A spokesperson for the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) said the amendment “would have made it discretionary whether or not remuneration is payable for the use of a licensed work. However, making payment discretionary would risk under-cutting the market. To avoid unfair competition, it should not be cheaper to use an orphan work than a non-orphan work.”
While orphan works licensing changes have been criticised, the UK Design Council has welcomed changes to the copyright protection terms for mass-produced artworks, which will extend protection from 25 years to the life of the author plus 70 years.
IP law firm Powell Gilbert LLP said this reform is intended to stop overseas manufacturers taking advantage of the UK’s comparatively weak copyright laws by importing copies of famous designs to distribute around Europe.
“The act is a significant milestone in improving the protection afforded to designs in the UK and brings the UK closer into line with the high level of protection given to designers in most other parts of Europe,” said Simon Ayrton, a partner at the firm.
“The reform has been widely applauded by those who want to provide stronger protection to designers, such as the Design Council, but has proved highly controversial with those that currently import Far East manufactured knock-offs of famous furniture designs into the UK,” he added.
The UK government says the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will “make copyright licensing more efficient and to remove unnecessary barriers to the legitimate use of works while preserving interests of rights holders”
For an in-depth look at the copyright changes, click here.
This article was first published on 26 April 2013 in World IP Review
Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Bill, Royal Assent, UK copyright law, orphan works,