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Archive for April, 2019

The Education exception and past PhD theses

Chris JHolland23 April 2019

A recent enquiry concerned the use of a past thesis in a writing workshop where students of a specific course would have the opportunity to examine and also to critique the writing style of that thesis, which would be studied as a relevant example. The question was whether it would be acceptable to copy the thesis in its entirety for the purpose of the workshop.

It seems very likely that this re-use of a thesis would be “fair dealing” in terms of the education (or “illustration for instruction”) exception which can be found in Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). Naturally this would only be “fair dealing” to the extent that the copies were used strictly for the task in hand and not for any additional purpose beyond the scope of Section 32. The context also needs to be “non-commercial” so something like  a fee-charging CPD course would probably not be covered.

In addition Section 32 does not specify that the work must have been  “…made available to the public” as does the exception for criticism, review, quotation and news reporting (Section 30, CDPA) for example. So that question does not arise in relation to the thesis.

EU Directive: Copyright in the Digital Single Market

Chris JHolland4 April 2019

The new copyright directive, the DSM Directive is nearing the completion of its long journey through the EU legislative  procedure. The latest version, has been approved by the European Parliament and now goes back to the Council. Previously there were very few mandatory exceptions to copyright in EU legislation. One of the important aspects of the DSM Directive is that it introduces a number of exceptions which are indeed mandatory for all member states, departing from the smorgasbord approach of the previous Infosoc Directive which presented a number of exceptions from which member states could pick and choose.

The new exceptions, such as Text and Data Mining exception and Preservation exception are generally favourable to libraries and research. The UK is already ahead of the game to some extent, for example in having a TDM exception, but in some cases the DSM exceptions would enhance and go further than what we have already and also have the advantage of operating across borders within the EU.

It is a moot point whether the DSM Directive will ever be implemented in the UK  or whether the timing of Brexit will prevent that happening.