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Copyrights Exceptions in the UK Essay


Introduction

Copyright laws are becoming increasingly controversial in the current society. Copyright owners are demanding for more protection of their work for any form of infringement to ensure that they benefit out of their creative minds.1 On the other hand, users of these copyrighted work are complaining of the overprotection that makes it impossible to use these works. According to Mazzone, it is important to note that intellectual property is protected in order to encourage other creative minds to produce other creative products.2 However, some of the users of these works still hold that although this protection is good, there is a level within which such protection may hinder the use of these works.

Kur says that the basic reason why one would develop a new product is to make others use it.3 However, when the law is too restrictive to allow for its proper usage, then such a product may be considered of less use. The differing ideas have resulted into massive debate as to whether a new law may be appropriate to define the way copyrighted works should be used. In the United Kingdom, the law on usage of copyright works has been harmonized with that of the European Union. It closely compares to the law used in the United States. There has been cases where courts in this country have ruled that copyright exceptions may not be avoided4. It would be important to understand some of these exceptions, and how the interests of the copyright owners and copyright users are protected in the process of defining these exceptions. In this research paper, the focus would be to determine exceptions in the United Kingdom.

According to Akerlof and Arrow, the law in the United Kingdom has been very strict on issues regarding copyright laws.5 This scholar says that in the past, artists in this country did not get to benefit from their works because some unscrupulous individuals were keen on stealing their creative works and using them for personal benefits. This is no longer the case. Artists, and other people with creative minds able to develop new products that did not exist before, can protect their intellectual knowledge by registering their works with the relevant authorities.

This way, they get exclusive right to control usage of their products in a way that will make them benefit.6 This has helped improve talent because people know appreciate that creativity pays. However, there has been an argument that copyright laws are so rigid that they make usage of copyrighted materials very difficult. For this reason, the society has been focusing on how it can encourage fair usage of copyrighted materials. The role of interpreting copyright law has been in the jurisdiction of courts of law in this country. According to Barczewski, there are a number of cases where the jury’s decision has indicated that there are copyright exceptions in the United Kingdom.7

Aufderheide notes that copyright exemptions are guided by the principle of fair use.8 This means that when one decides to use a given copyrighted material without the knowledge of the owner, the usage must pass the fair use standard. This means that the usage should not be for commercial purposes. The level of usage should also be insignificant before the law that governs patent rights. The law also defines specific instances where copyright exceptions may exist. Some of these instances are discussed below.

Copyright exceptions may exist in case the user is involved in a private study or non-commercial research. This means that when an individual is involved in a personal research that is not intended to generate any personal gain, there may be a copyright exemptions. It is important to understand the principle guiding this exception. It is believed that in such private research, an individual (the user) would be interested in finding an answer using the works of the copyright owner without any intention of gaining commercial benefit from such work.9 In this case, the user will be regarded as the final consumer of the copyright product. However, this exception is very clear on the level of work that may be reproduced in such a research. A heavy reproduction of copyrighted work may raise questions about the legality of such works. The law is also clear that in such private research, the researcher must appreciate that the owner of the work that is produced in order to create some form of clarity.10

Some of the copyrighted works are always reviewed by critics in order to determine their relevance. According to Beebe, critics may not need to obtain express authority from copyright owners in order to review some of their works.11 The law in this country allows such critics to make a review of such works as a way of making the society understand their relevance. As Cotter says, these patented materials are always meant for public consumption.12

For instance, when an author publishes a book on a particular topic that is relevant to the society, the book may be used in various institutions such as schools, research institutions, and even in government departments. It is important to ensure that such materials are valid in what they express in order to avoid negative consequences of implementing wrong policies. In this regard, the principle behind this exception is that the reviewers and the critics will be acting as regulatory authorities that would determine the appropriateness of the material. The law therefore, gives them authority to give such reviews even without consulting the copyright owners.

Copyright exceptions may also exist when reporting on current events. As Depoorter and Parisi note, the world is changing with the changes taking place in the environment.13 These changes are brought about by works of creative minds. Through their work, the work takes different approaches in dealing with various issues. These are the works that are always patented by the originators in order to bar unethical businesspeople from benefitting in areas they did not make any efforts. However, it is important to report on such new inventions so that the public may be aware of them. In such cases, there would be copyright exception. The principle guideline in this case is that the reporter will be making it clear that they are reporting a work done by someone else. This would benefit the owner of such copyright because through such reports, their work may be known in the market, and this may help them generate more income from such works.14

The law also gives copyright exception for the usage of copyrighted work during judicial proceedings. The jury or lawyers are permitted to make relevant quotations on copyrighted works when making relevant clarification. In such cases, the user must specify that such statements are quoted from the works of a specific owner of the copyright. In this case, it will be assumed that the user is the final consumer, and that the user do not intent to claim ownership to such works. In this regard, it is also relevant to be conscious of the level of such usage.15

Copyright exceptions also exist in the process of teaching in institutions of learning. As Boyle notes, most of the books used in institutions of learning are copyrighted.16 The users of such materials are allowed to make relevant quotations from such books, but with clear reference to the owner of the copyright. Anderman notes that there are cases where users may not need to quote the owner of the copyright when using such materials.17 For instance, a teacher using such material to teach junior learners who are yet to master reading and writing may not be obliged to acknowledge the author when using their work.

The teacher may reproduce such work for the purpose of making learners understand how to read or write. The assumption in this case still holds that the teacher is the final consumer of that product. It is important in this case to determine what will be considered as legal before the law. When the work is used for the purpose of learning, such a case will be exempted from copyright laws. However, when one decides to use such materials for commercial purposes, then it would be a clear breach of copyright law.

In all the above incidents, it is important to understand the principle of law that allows their usage without the need to seek for permission from the relevant authorities. The law still remains clear on the need to protect intellectual property. However, the law is conscious of the fact that such works are always meant for public consumption. For that matter, any instance that would clearly indicate that the user acted as a final consumer would provide the user some form of immunity from any litigation18.

However, the user must be able to prove that the usage was meant for personal consumption. As Brenncke says, protecting intellectual property is very important as a way of nurturing talent.19 However, this should not be done in a way that inhibits proper usage of such works. This would beat the logic of coming up with such creative ideas in the first place. The law of this country must therefore, be clear on stating the extent to which usage of copyrighted materials may be considered illegal in a court of law.20

Conclusion

The need to protect intellectual property has been on the rise. The advanced technology has made it possible for unscrupulous businesspeople to come up with ways of stealing others intellectual property. In the United Kingdom, stringent measures have been put in place to ensure that intellectual property is protected. However, there are some exception to copyright. The law allows individuals who are using such copyrighted materials as final users some exception.

Critics, reporters, teachers, and attorneys are always granted permission to use copyrighted materials without permission of the copyright owner as long as they do not claim ownership to it. It is therefore, a fact that the law in this country is doing a great job in balancing between the interest of owners and users of copyrighted materials. While the law protects the owners of copyright from any form of copyright fraud, it allows users some freedom to use these materials as final consumers. The principle of fair use has been guiding how to balance between allowing users freedom to use the materials, and protecting the interest of copyright owners.

Bibliography

Akerlof, G & K Arrow, The copyright extension act of 1998, Brookings Institute, Washington, 2002.

Anderman, S, The Interface between Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Policy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007.

Aufderheide, P, Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2011.

Barczewski, M, From hard to soft law–a requisite shift in the international copyright regime, Cengage, New York. 2011.

Beebe, B, An empirical study of US copyright fair use opinions, 1978-2005, Wiley, New Jersey, 2008.

Boyle, J, The public domain: enclosing the commons of the mind, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008.

Brenncke, M, Is ‘fair use’ an option for UK copyright legislation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005.

Cotter, T, Fair use and copyright over enforcement, Iowa Law Review, Iowa, 2005.

Depoorter, B & F Parisi, Fair use and copyright protection, Wiley, New York, 2005.

Dworkin, G, Blackstone’s guide to the copyright, designs and patents act 1988, Sweet and Maxwell, London.

Gibson, J, Risk aversion and rights accretion in intellectual property law, GG Publishers, Johannesburg, 2006.

Ginsburg, J, European copyright code–back to first principles, Wiley& Sons, New Jersey, 2011.

Gordon, W, Fair use as market failure: a structural economic analysis of the Betamax case and its predecessors, Columbia Law Rev, Columbia, 2008.

Gowers, A, Gowers review of intellectual property, HMSO, London, 2006.

Griffiths, J, Unsticking the centre-piece: the liberation of European copyright law, McMillan Publishers, London, 2010.

Hargreaves, I, Digital opportunity: a review of intellectual property and growth, Intellect Prop Off, London, 2011.

Kur, A, Intellectual Property Rights in a Fair World Trade System: Proposals for Reform of Trips, Edward Elgar Publishers, Cheltenham, 2011.

Landes, W, The economic structure of intellectual property law, Belknap, Cambridge, 2003.

Mazzone, J, Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2011.

McDonagh, L, 2012, Is the creative use of musical works without a licence acceptable, McMillan Publishers, London.

Patterson, L & S Lindberg, The Nature of Copyright: A Law of Users’ Rights, University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1991.

Footnotes

  1. Gibson, J, Risk aversion and rights accretion in intellectual property law, GG Publishers, Johannesburg, 2006.
  2. Mazzone, J, Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2011.
  3. Kur, A, Intellectual Property Rights in a Fair World Trade System: Proposals for Reform of Trips, Edward Elgar Publishers, Cheltenham, 2011.
  4. Patterson, L & S Lindberg, The Nature of Copyright: A Law of Users’ Rights, University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1991.
  5. Akerlof, G & K Arrow, The copyright extension act of 1998, Brookings Institute, Washington, 2002.
  6. Ginsburg, J, European copyright code–back to first principles, Wiley& Sons, New Jersey, 2011.
  7. Barczewski, M, From hard to soft law–a requisite shift in the international copyright regime, Cengage, New York. 2011.
  8. Aufderheide, P, Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2011.
  9. Gordon, W, Fair use as market failure: a structural economic analysis of the Betamax case and its predecessors, Columbia Law Rev, Columbia, 2008.
  10. McDonagh, L, 2012, Is the creative use of musical works without a licence acceptable, McMillan Publishers, London.
  11. Beebe, B, An empirical study of US copyright fair use opinions, 1978-2005, Wiley, New Jersey, 2008.
  12. Cotter, T, Fair use and copyright over enforcement, Iowa Law Review, Iowa, 2005.
  13. Depoorter, B & F Parisi, Fair use and copyright protection, Wiley, New York, 2005.
  14. Gowers, A, Gowers review of intellectual property, HMSO, London, 2006.
  15. Griffiths, J, Unsticking the centre-piece: the liberation of European copyright law, McMillan Publishers, London, 2010.
  16. Boyle, J, The public domain: enclosing the commons of the mind, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008.
  17. Anderman, S, The Interface between Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Policy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007.
  18. Landes, W, The economic structure of intellectual property law, Belknap, Cambridge, 2003.
  19. Brenncke, M, Is ‘fair use’ an option for UK copyright legislation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005.
  20. Hargreaves, I, Digital opportunity: a review of intellectual property and growth, Intellect Prop Off, London, 2011.
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IvyPanda. "Copyrights Exceptions in the UK." May 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/copyrights-exceptions-in-the-uk/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Copyrights Exceptions in the UK." May 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/copyrights-exceptions-in-the-uk/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Copyrights Exceptions in the UK'. 29 May.

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