UK Announces Updates To Copyright Licensing

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The United Kingdom government will publish draft updates to the UK copyright licensing system later this week, keeping strong criminal penalties, it said today.

The new legislative measures will be included in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill to be published later in the week. According to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (which the IP office is in), they would:

“• allow the creation of a future ‘orphan works’ scheme to open access to valuable material that currently can’t be licensed or used
• put in place a voluntary regime for extending collective licensing to help reduce complexities in the system
• reserve a power to introduce statutory codes of conduct for collecting societies if they fail to operate to minimum standards.”

“The measures we plan to introduce as soon as possible would make it easier for those seeking access to, and use of, copyrighted works,” Business Minister Norman Lamb said in a release. “Freeing up so-called ‘orphan works’ will allow use of works for the first time, making the most of untapped economic and creative potential. Extending licensing arrangements for collective societies, whilst ensuring rights holders are protected, will also help maximise the benefit for the UK’s world-class creative industries.”

The government said it also will introduce “a power to implement a recent EU Directive on the term of protection for sound recordings in a way that keeps the UK’s current strong criminal penalties for copyright infringement.”

The draft clauses to be published this week will be examined by Parliament as part of the bill. The changes are intended to be a response to recommendation from the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property, which was published in August 2011.

A policy statement by the government is here: Consultation on modernising copyright [pdf]

Last week, the UK Parliament committee urged government to speed up IP reforms (IPW, European Policy, 27 June 2012).

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