Private copying OK - with compensation

AT THE scrag end of 2012, on 20 December, the UK government issued its proposals on "exceptions" to copyright - the cases in which people can use your work without asking or paying.

The Creators' Rights Alliance immediately responded: "Will squatters' rights prevail over copyright?"

The connection is the government's response in the document to the forceful reminder from the All-Party Intellectual Property Group of MPs and Lords that copyright is a property right. This is that freehold interests in "real property" - land - are subject to restriction by regulation, including "adverse posession", also known as squatters' rights. This seems apt, given what the CRA describes as the government wish to "legalise the practice of a Famous Web Search Engine and others of squatting authors' and performers' work"

Probably the most alarming aspect is a "spectacularly opaque proposal" on extending 'exceptions'... for the benefit of educational users."

The part of the proposals that got a headline was to make it legal to copy legitimately acquired music, for example, onto an iThing - "private copying" in the jargon. No problem. What is a problem is the UK government's insitence that the "fair compensation" to authors required by EU law is... zero.

How much the UK government is out of step is revealed by the Dutch government's announcement on 21 December that it will not make downloading illegal, but instead compensate creators, funded by a levy on the price of iThings.

Last modified: 06 Jan 2013 - © 2013 contributors
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