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UK copyright reforms to take effect in April 2014

Changes to UK copyright law will come into force on 6 April 2014, the Government has announced.19 Dec 2013

Businesses stand to save more than £25 million as a result of the planned changes to rules on exceptions to copyright, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills ((BIS) said.

New laws, which would provide the Government with a power to intervene if it identifies problems with self-regulatory voluntary codes of practice collecting societies have been asked to implement, are also scheduled to be introduced at the same time.

"This is a package of relatively small but important reforms to copyright law that will give users of copyright works new basic rights, while continuing to provide necessary protections for copyright owners," BIS said in a statement outlining the new regulations planned for the first half of 2014 (11-page / 94KB PDF). "One of these measures is copyright exception for archiving and preserving. The existing preservation exception will be updated to apply to all types of media and to museums and galleries, as well as libraries and archives."

Earlier this year the Government published draft new regulations which, if introduced, would expand the number of exceptions to copyright that currently apply under UK copyright laws. Among the changes planned, will be a new right to copy copyrighted material for private use.

The plans would also introduce a new exception to conduct data analysis for non-commercial research, and a new qualified right to quote copyright-protected content for purposes extending beyond criticism, review or news reporting would also be formed.

A new limited right to use copyrighted material in a work of parody is among the other changes set out under the draft legislation tabled.

Intellectual property law expert Iain Connor of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "While the Government has attempted to put forward a balanced series of reforms that reflect the needs of society and the reality of people's personal use of music and other copyright material in a digital age, the reality is that there is little in these proposals for rights holders which is odd given the amount the creative industries contribute to the UK economy."

"There is still the potential for last minute changes to the legislation as it passes through Parliament which means we'll only know the final impact when implemented," he added.

BIS said that the reforms would simplify the UK's copyright law regime by removing "up to 45 pages of unnecessary rules and regulations from the statute book".

The Government committed to changing copyright laws after broadly endorsing a 2011 report by a leading academic on how to reform the UK's intellectual property law framework.

Separately, the European Commission recently announced a review into the EU copyright framework. Among the issues it has asked stakeholders for views on is whether or not there should be greater harmonisation of copyright laws across the trading bloc.