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UK government wants your views on copyright

The UK government has published detailed proposals to clarify and extend copyright exceptions, in response to this year’s Hargreaves Review on intellectual property

The government wants businesses to provide "thoughts and evidence" on the wide-ranging reforms during a consultation period that will last until March 21 next year.

Most of the proposals concern copyright exceptions.

The government proposes creating a private copying exception. This would make it legal to copy a CD on to an MP3 player, something that many users do already.

It also wants to introduce an exception for parody and pastiche, which it says will give greater creative freedom to comedians.

The exception for non-commercial research will be widened to allow data mining, and exceptions affecting education, quotation and people with disabilities will be updated.

In addition, the government wants to establish licensing and clearance procedures for orphan works, to open them up for consumers and researchers, and to provide for voluntary extended collective licensing schemes.

These schemes, similar to those that exist in Scandinavia, would allow collecting societies to license rights on behalf of all rights owners in a sector, apart from those who have opted out.

The proposals closely follow the recommendations made in the Hargreaves Review, published on May 19. They were endorsed by Vince Cable, the business minister, in August.

Baroness Wilcox, minister for IP, said in a statement today that "some freeing up of existing copyright legislation can deliver real value to the UK economy without risking our excellent creative industries".

The Hargreaves Review was commissioned following concerns, including those expressed by Prime Minister David Cameron, that the UK might not offer a conducive climate to new technology businesses such as Google.

It is likely to attract a lot of comments. Groups representing consumers will probably welcome the proposals to clarify exceptions, but some copyright owners might feel they go too far. For example, academic publishers are known to have reservations about the data mining proposals.

There may also be concerns about overlap between national and EU or international legislation. For example, the European Commission is also planning a directive dealing with orphan works.

Another Hargreaves recommendation was the creation of a digital copyright exchange. Last month the government appointed Richard Hooper to run a feasibility study on this issue.

More information on the consultation, including the response form, is available on the IPO website. Responses can be sent to David Burgess at the IPO by email.

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