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Private Copying Regulations Quashed by High Court

MU delighted at today’s High Court decision to quash the Government’s private copying exception.

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Commenting on the High Court decision today to quash the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014, Jo Dipple, CEO UK Music said:

“Last month, the High Court agreed with us that Government acted unlawfully when it introduced an exception to copyright for private copying without fair compensation. We therefore welcome the Courts decision today to quash the existing regulations.

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.”

MU General Secretary John Smith was also delighted:

“The MU has said from the word go that we welcomed the idea of a private copying exception, but that any such exception would have to include fair compensation for performers. I’m extremely pleased that the court has agreed with us that the Government didn’t produce adequate evidence to prove that compensation had already been factored in. I now look forward to working with my colleagues at UK Music and with the Government to look at this issue again and hopefully in time introduce an exception that will be acceptable to performers and consumers alike.

NOTES AND BACKGROUND

The UK Government introduced measures in October 2014 to change the law to enable people to copy copyright material they have lawfully acquired for their own private and personal use, under the ‘Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014’. 

The EU Copyright Directive permits Member States such as the UK to introduce such exceptions into domestic law, but on the condition that rightholders receive fair compensation where more than minimal harm is suffered.

BASCA, the Musicians’ Union and UK Music applied for Judicial Review in November 2014. The High Court announced on 19th June 2015 that the Government had acted unlawfully. By quashing the regulations the High Court has now decided that the measures introduced in October 2014 are no longer in force.

FAQ

Does the MU want a private copying exception?

Yes, we believe that consumers should be allowed to copy copyrighted material that they have lawfully acquired for their own personal use. The law needs to reflect this.

If that is so, why did we take the Government to court to quash the exception?

The exception that was brought in by the Government did not follow EU law, in that it did not provide for compensation for performers and musicians. We therefore challenged it and it has since been quashed.

Why should compensation be provided?

Fair compensation accompanying a private copying exception is a requirement of European law.

By not providing compensation, the UK Government is undermining UK musicians and denying them an income stream that performers in the rest of Europe do very well out of.

Who should provide the compensation?

We don’t believe that compensation should be provided by consumers.

We think that the manufacturers who have made a lot of money out of devices that rely on music being copied on to them should be passing on some of this money to performers.

Will compensation increase the price of electronic devices and negatively impact consumers?

There seems to be no relationship between retail prices and the level of compensation musicians receive. For example, the cost of a 2GB iPod shuffle in the UK is the same as in Germany, Belgium and Portugal where a private copying exception is accompanied by a requirement for fair compensation. The market price of an electronic device is ultimately set by retailers.

What does the MU think should happen next?

The MU has said from the word go that we welcome the idea of a private copying exception, but that any such exception would have to include fair compensation for performers.

The court has agreed with us that the Government didn’t produce adequate evidence to prove that compensation had already been factored in.

Now we’re looking forward to working with UK Music and with the Government to look at this issue again and introduce an exception that will be fair to performers and consumers alike.


Published: 17/07/2015
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