Reform of UK copyright exceptions — contract override

After many months of anticipation, the UK government has announced the finalised wording of its proposed reform of UK copyright exceptions. They will now go before Parliament, with an expected commencement date of 1 June 2014, almost three years after they were recommended by the Hargreaves Review. The new exceptions are the most direct outcome of the Hargreaves Review. One of the review’s recommendations was that all exceptions available under EU law should be exploited. In addition, it suggested that the law should be clarified so that no exception to copyright could be overridden by contract.

A number of new and revised exceptions will be introduced, via five statutory instruments, but the ones of most widespread and general commercial impact are likely to be the exceptions for:

  • fair dealing quotation of works (whether for criticism or review or otherwise)
  • fair dealing of works for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche
  • the making of personal copies of works (other than computer programs) for private use

There are also provisions preventing rights holders from including in their licences terms that prevent or restrict the doing of any of these acts, the so-called ‘contract override’ provisions. These could have substantial practical impact…

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