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Rights holders groups campaign for private copying exception to exclude cloud storage

Limits should be placed on any new 'private copying' exemption introduced under UK copyright law to prevent individuals copying digital content into cloud storage services for private use, rights holder groups have said.20 Jun 2012

Last year the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) launched a consultation on changes it proposed to introduce to the UK's copyright framework. It has now published (40-page / 450KB PDF) a summary of the responses it received which detail "distinct divergence of views" on the issue of a private copying exemption, which would enable individuals to freely make a copy of copyrighted work for their own personal use without infringing copyright.

However, "most" rights holders have "expressed concerns" about the "harm and impact" that the private copying exception could cause to their revenues and "many" said they want a levy to apply to blank media and copying devices which would facilitate private copying by consumers, the IPO said. Other rights holders want the private copying exemption only to apply to "physical products", it added.

"Many of these rights holder respondents, while recognising developing technologies and their potential impact on copyright felt that conditions should be placed on a private copying exception," the IPO said in its summary of responses document. "Most significantly, it should be accompanied by a levy on blank media and copying devices to compensate for the harm these respondents believed would result from the exception."

"There was also opposition to the inclusion of remote 'cloud' storage within the exception. For example, UK Music supported a private copying exception, but only in conjunction with a levy, and was clear that the exception should be '...limited to the copying of physical products and expressly exclude copying content to any online services involving third parties such as 'cloud' storage services...'," it said.

Currently, taking the music from a CD that you have purchased for use on an mp3 player is copyright infringement, although the music industry does not typically pursue individuals for this infringement.

However, in contrast consumers and technology companies had said they wanted to see a private copying exception allow individuals to copy material and share "within households or other private groups", and argued that this activity was already prevalent and had not been intervened on by rights holders, according to the IPO's report.

"In their view this suggested that it caused minimal harm to rights holders and therefore did not require compensation," it said. "They also argued that an exception that does not take account of such activity would not be practical."

Views of rights holders and other groups also clashed on other proposed changes to copyright law, the IPO said.

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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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