Jun 22, 2015

Music to the Music Industry's Ears - Government Loses Copyright Case

The High Court recently (Friday 19 June 2015) ruled against the UK Government in a Judicial Review brought by three bodies representing music rightsholders.

The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, the Musicians' Union and UK Music (together "Bodies") challenged the Government's decision to introduce a private copying exception into UK copyright law.  They argued that it was unlawful because it failed to provide fair compensation to rightholders.

The three Bodies welcomed a recent change to UK copyright law which enabled consumers to copy legally-acquired music for personal and private use which is otherwise known as the private copying exception.  The changes came about as a result of the introduction of changes made by the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014.  However, they argued that in such circumstances European law requires fair compensation to be paid to the rightsholders as they suffer significant harm.  The legislation made no provision for the payment of such compensation or any other type of recompense to rightsholders.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills argued that the measures would cause zero or insignificant harm, making compensation unnecessary.  Mr Justice Green sitting in the High Court, London, disagreed.

The High Court agreed with the Bodies.  It held that the Government's decision not to provide fair compensation was based on wholly inadequate evidence and that the Government's decision was therefore unlawful.

The High Court's ruling means that Government will now have to reconsider its position and will likely lead to amendments to the recently enacted legislation.

Speaking on the case, Jo Dipple, CEO of UK Music said:

"The High Court agreed with us that Government acted unlawfully.  It is vitally important that fairness for songwriters, composers and performers is written into the law.  My members' music defines this country.  It is only right that Government gives us the standard of legislation our music deserves. We want to work with Government so this can be achieved."

"The British music industry is worth £3.8bn GVA and generates £3.1bn in tourist spend.  Changes to copyright law that affect such a vital part of the creative economy, which supports one in twelve jobs, must only be introduced if there is a robust evidential basis for doing so."

in: Case Law, Copyright, News

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