DACS strives to protect visual artists


Changes to UK copyright

DACS strives to protect visual artists’ livelihoods in face of changes to UK copyright

The UK Government has passed new exceptions to copyright law, despite lobbying efforts by DACS and rights organisations across the creative industries against some of the changes. We continue to collaborate closely with the copyright community, as well as monitor the progress of the changes to ensure visual artists’ incomes are protected.

How will UK copyright law change?

In 2012, the UK Government proposed a series of new or revised exceptions to copyright law which would allow someone to use a copyright-protected work, such as an artwork or piece of music, under certain circumstances, without needing to obtain permission from the artist or pay for a licence.

The exceptions relating to education, research and libraries, archives, and data analysis for non-commercial research, were passed in May 2014 and came into effect in June. Read more.

The remaining exceptions – private copying; parody, caricature and pastiche; and quotation – have been debated in Parliament. On 29 July 2014, the House of Lords approved the exceptions and they are due to come into effect on 1 October 2014.

‘Private copying’ will allow for someone to create personal copies of a work for their own private use, for example, copying music from a CD to a laptop or MP3 player. ‘Parody, caricature and pastiche’ allows for the limited use of copyright-protected material for those purposes, and ‘quotation’ broadens the scope of the previous ‘criticism and review’ exception.

How DACS has lobbied to protect artists’ livelihoods

Over the past few years we have lobbied the Government frequently to raise our concerns about some of these exceptions, in particular, private copying and parody.

In 2012 we conducted a survey of DACS members and other visual artists. We found that over a third of respondents strenuously objected to the parody exception and many also strenuously objected to the private copying exception.

In August 2013 we participated in the Government’s public consultation on the draft legislation. We informed the Government that there needed to be more clarity in the definition of the words ‘parody’, ‘caricature’ and ‘pastiche’, and made it clear that the introduction of a private copying exception without compensation to artists could threaten established business streams which support their income, such as merchandising.

We have been following the progress of the changes closely, and have worked with copyright lobbying groups such as the Alliance for Intellectual Property and British Copyright Council to ensure our voice is heard.

Our Chief Executive, Gilane Tawadros, signed an open letter in The Times newspaper on 8 July 2014 urging ministers to reconsider their proposed changes and the detrimental effect they may have on visual artists and other creators.

What happens next?

Following the House of Lords debate, we are aware that some of our recommendations have not been adopted by the Government.

We requested that in the very least, provisions would be made to compensate visual artists fairly for any harm caused by the private copying exception. This was rejected as the Government was satisfied that the exception was very narrow in scope and that there was only minimal harm to visual artists.

We will urge the Government’s Intellectual Property Office to work closely with us in drafting guidance notes to ensure that this exception will in no way allow for the commercial use of copies made by individuals. This would include, for example, the prohibition of someone selling posters they have printed from photographs or images of art they have copied off the internet.

We continue to monitor the progress of these changes to UK copyright and will keep you updated on the outcomes.

Image: Time Shift, 1993 by Kim Lim © Estate of Kim Lim. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2014

Visit the DACS website for updates and further information.

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