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Parody examples will strengthen case for new copyright exception, campaigners say

The UK public is being urged to upload works of parody to a new website in order to demonstrate the need for a change to UK copyright laws.10 Jan 2012

The Open Rights Group (ORG), which campaigns for digital freedoms, has launched a new website in the hope of collating parody works by "creators and campaigners alike". The group hopes the works will help persuade the Government to introduce a new exception to copyright laws enabling copyrighted material to be freely used in works of parody or pastiche.

"Time and again we see the law used to remove creative, thoughtful and just plain funny works from public view. That can be innovative creative reworkings of famous songs or films through to the ambitious and important work of campaigning organisations. All because some people can't take a joke," Peter Bradwell, campaigner with the ORG, said in a statement.

"Copyright law badly needs a sense of humour, and we now have a unique opportunity to give it one. We're looking for people to help by contributing their own parodies," he said.

Last year the Government announced its intention to widen the exceptions in which copyrighted works can be legitimately used without creators' consent and in December launched a consultation looking to obtain views on its plans.

The consultation, which closes on 21 March, proposes widening copyright exceptions to the maximum currently permitted within EU law. This includes allowing limited private copying, introducing an exemption for parody and pastiche and widening exceptions for library archivists and non-commercial researchers.

Currently the UK has limited exemption for 'fair dealing' in copyright-protected material. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act allows 'fair dealing' of copyright works in non-commercial research, in reviews and criticisms and as part of news reports without being deemed to infringe the rights of copyright owners. The Act also permits copyright works to be used incidentally as part of sound recordings, films and artistic works.

Last May the Government was advised to introduce a parody exception to copyright in a report by university professor Ian Hargreaves. Hargreaves had been commissioned to conduct a review of the UK's intellectual property framework.

Expertise in Copyright

Copyright is an extremely valuable, often unrecognised or misunderstood right which protects a whole range of original materials including written materials, software, artistic materials, music and dramatic works. It arises automatically without the need for registration in most countries and protects these materials from unauthorised copying. It is essential in business to identify such rights, ensure they are owned by the correct entity, properly protected, enforced and exploited.

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