Friday, 17 July 2015

Private copying regulations quashed

Back to the unfamiliar territory of the Administrative Court, where last month the regulations that made private copying of certain works (those of which the copier had lawfully acquired a copy) were unlawful. Now in British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors Musicians' Union & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills & Anor [2015] EWHC 2041 (Admin) (17 July 2015) the same court has quashed the regulations, having left open after the first judgment what would be done.

Copies made since the permitted act was created in October last year will not become automatically unlawful, though it seems that any action brought in respect of such copies may proceed on the basis that they were not authorised. There will be no expedition to Luxembourg at the this stage. The government will presumably now try to work out how to pass legislation that will hold water - it will need to define what it means by de minimis, for one thing. Policy-based evidence-making won't cut it, and a good thing too.

Meanwhile, the record industry (which is the area principally affected by all of this) will continue not to take action for infringement when users "format shift" recordings. They have taken this view, as I understand it, for several years, which makes it odd to my mind that the government should have wasted time on legislation in the first place. Keep it as a threat, by all means, so that the industry is not tempted to rescind that concession, but surely that is enough.

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