Do you need a copyright licence?

It was reported last year that Brighton and Hove Council had agreed to pay the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) an undisclosed sum in respect of retrospective licence fees and legal costs. This has prompted a significant increase in the number of councils applying for a copyright licence — according to the CLA, 46 local authorities have obtained a copyright licence in the 12 months since the disclosure of the Brighton and Hove case.

Copyright protects the form of expression of ideas. Its purpose is to reward authors of original works where independent effort has been expended by the author in their creation. In essence, copyright prevents those works from being copied without the owner’s consent. While there are copyright exceptions in UK law, these are not extensive and their scope is not always clear. In particular, there is a ‘fair dealing’ exception that permits the reproduction of material for the purposes of non-commercial research or private study, for criticism or review or for the reporting of current events, but the reproduction must be genuinely and fairly used for the stated purpose and must be accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement…

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