New copyright exceptions on the way

August 2014

Page Director

Parliament is currently scrutinising a set of 5 regulations which, if approved, will introduce new and amended exceptions to copyright protection into UK law from 1 June 2014.

UPDATE: The Government has now announced that the “Personal Copies for Private Use” and “Quotation and Parody” regulations are unlikely to come into force on 1 June 2014 as planned because further scrutiny is required. It is not yet known when they will come into effect, if at all. The other regulations will take effect as planned.

Full Briefing

In May 2011 Professor Ian Hargreaves published an independent review into intellectual property rights, which included a number of recommendations for updating and harmonising UK law, most of which the Government subsequently accepted.

One result of the review has been a set of 5 draft regulations which set out new exceptions to copyright protection. These are:

  • The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014
  • The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014
  • The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Disability) Regulations 2014
  • The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Research, Education, Libraries and Archives) Regulations 2014
  • The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Public Administration) Regulations 2014

Below we have briefly summarised the purpose and effect of each of the regulations.

“Personal Copies for Private Use” Regulations

One of the black holes in UK copyright law – particularly in the digital age – has been the prohibition on making copies of copyrighted work for personal use. This technically means that it is illegal, for example, to copy a legally downloaded single from one device to another. These regulations will update the law so that it is legally possible to make copies of a copyrighted work (which has been acquired legally on a permanent basis) for private use.

The new right will apply retrospectively to any copy made before the regulations come into force. The exception will not apply to computer programs, nor to the provision of copies to another person for their use. Also, if the original purchased work is sold, the exception does not allow the seller to retain his personal copy for continued use without the consent of the copyright holder.

The regulations also include a procedure to allow anyone prohibited from making a personal copy of a work – for example due to DRM restrictions – to make a complaint and for the Secretary of State to make an order requiring the copyright owner to remove such restrictions.

“Quotation and Parody” Regulations

In addition to the existing right to use copyrighted works for the purposes of criticism or review, these regulations will enable the use of otherwise copyright protected works for quotation or parody. Copyright will not be infringed by the use of a quotation provided that the quotation is fair and no more than necessary for the purpose for which it is used.

For some time, it has generally been accepted that parodies and caricatures are a fair use of copyrighted works and do not infringe the owner’s rights. That has also been expressly stated in the EU’s Copyright Directive but is only now being formally adopted in the UK. The new UK law will require that the use of works for the purposes of parody is in “fair dealing”, unlike EU law.

“Disability” Regulations

The Disability regulations repeal and replace the laws on provision of copyright works to the visually impaired. The new laws include an exception for disabled people more generally, as opposed to just the visually impaired.

“Research, Education, Libraries and Archives” Regulations

These regulations introduce a number of changes to existing exceptions. They amend the existing law to allow all types of copyright work to be used for the purposes of research and private study. They also introduce a new exception for making copies of work for text and data analysis research for people who have lawful access to a copy of such works.

Other amendments relate to the use of copyright work for educational non-commercial purposes, enabling educational establishments to use copyright works without infringement provided sufficient acknowledgement is given.

“Public Administration” Regulations

These regulations will make it easier for public bodies to deal with copyright material without risk of infringement. Public bodies will be able to make copies of documents available online as well as in paper form.


The new regulations are currently being scrutinised by Parliament and, if approved, will come into force on 1 June 2014. The Government has announced that the “Personal Copies for Private Use” and “Quotation and Parody” regulations will not come into effect on that date.

If you have any queries regarding the protection and exploitation of copyright, please contact a member of our commercial team. 

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