A series of new developments reforming copyright law are set to take effect over the coming months.
In a speech to the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in London on 1 April, Lord Younger, Minister for Intellectual Property, said the government was taking steps to enable greater access to “orphan works” – those where the rights holder cannot be found – including for commercial use.
He said: “We are implementing the EU directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works at the end of October. This will mean that publicly accessible archives can digitise many of their orphan works and make them viewable on their websites.
“As a complement to the orphan works directive, we are introducing an orphan works licensing scheme. This will allow any type of user to apply for a licence, for any type of work and for both commercial and non-commercial use.
“This will mean authors and publishers will be able to reproduce orphan documents and images in books. Television production companies will be able to use orphan film clips in documentaries. Museums will be able to copy and enlarge fragile photographs to display in exhibitions and online.
“As the orphan works licensing scheme allows commercial use, we have introduced important additional safeguards for rights holders around the diligent search and the licence fee. We hope to launch the licensing scheme at the same time as the orphan works directive is implemented.”
Lord Younger said that regulations concerning the copyright of unpublished works were due to be published in the summer for implementation as soon as possible afterwards.
He said that many documents, often hundreds of years old, were still in copyright because they were unpublished. The regulations would bring the copyright term for unpublished documents in line with published ones.
Meanwhile, copyright exceptions to support preservation, archiving and non-commercial research are scheduled to come into force on 1 June. They will widen the preservation exception to museums and galleries, as well as libraries and archives, and to cover a broader range of media, including films and sound recordings. A wider non-commercial research exception will also allow students and libraries to copy a wider range of works.
Palmers can provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of copyright, including access to copyright-exempt material, and intellectual property and licensing issues. For more information, please visit our website or contact BJ Chong.