UK Intellectual Property. Limitations of exclusive rights

The article is kindly prepared in cooperation with UMIP experts, the branch of Manchester University that specialises in intellectual property consulting and assistance. Find out what experts say on the real state of affairs of exclusive rights limitations.

Using it legally

One of the cases of authorised use of copyrighted works, in addition to obtaining a license, is established by the legislation limits for exclusive rights when the use of intellectual property is permitted under certain conditions without the consent of copyright holders.

The authors note with regret that the emergence of new or changing old ways of using works never leads to the corresponding transformations of copyright law. As a result, the scope of action allowed for protected works is too narrow, and in some cases limiting the use of new digital technologies and innovations and infringing the public interest (especially in such areas as training and research).

An even more serious problem arises when people in their everyday life use content in ways that, in their view, can not in principle be prohibited: sharing their favorite music files with the family or store music on other devices to listen to it in the car. There is an unjustified discrepancy between people’s needs and norms of the law. At the same time they cannot explain why they are free to read your favorite book to a friend, but can not do the same with regard to digital books, or music. This undermines respect for the law.

In the European Union there is a fairly strict system of such restrictions of exclusive rights, which includes only cases of free use of works for the purpose of criticism, daily news reports, research and archiving. In general, non-commercial purposes.

US experience

A more flexible system operates in the US, where the jurisprudence established the concept of ‘Fair Use’. According to the concept, the courts have the right to recognise this or that action in respect of protected works lawful, without waiting for changes in legislation. Of course, errors may occur when the authors’ rights are limited to over the top, but they can also be corrected by judicial decisions. As a result, it opens the way for the introduction of new technologies and the emergence of devices and services (including consumer sector, where exceptions apply, for example, to home video, caching the results of Internet search, thumbnails of digital images).

The way out

Therefore, the study authors suggest the following – in spite of the possible complexity of the concept of Fair Use, it is imperative to introduce a similar body in Europe as soon as possible. And this should be done at the European level (changing EU legislation) and the way that it applies to all emerging technological trends (because now you have to wait for years before falling into the category of user-accessible copyright restrictions). The concept should allow users to so-called ‘non-consumptive use’, when making copies of protected works is part of the overall process.

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