It has been announced that a new law is set to be introduced in April 2020 to allow designers of artistic work which is industrially manufactured to extend the term of copyright protection afforded to them.
The current law is set out in section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 (CDPA). This section limits the term of protection of artistic works which have been industrially manufactured and marketed by the copyright owner in the UK and overseas to 25 years. The items typically covered by this type of artistic work include furniture, jewelry and lighting. A design that is not an artistic work attracts no copyright protection.
At the end of the 25 year period the work may be copied without infringing copyright in the work. Copyright in most other artistic works such as literature and music lasts until 70 years after the death of the author, if known.
The Government are to introduce section 72 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 which will abolish the current section 52 CDPA. This reform will extend the term of protection to 70 years after the death of the author, which is the same term as copyright to other artistic works.
Designers in the furniture industry have been campaigning for the amendment for some time and the change brings the UK in line with most other European countries. The change is intended to be implemented in a way that reduces negative impacts on businesses which have been operating legitimately under the current law. There will be a 3 year transition period to allow business to sell off existing replica stock.
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