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Beatrix Potter and Copyright

ucylcjh12 April 2016

A recent IPKat blog post pointed out that  contrary to expectations a newly discovered and previously unknown work by Beatrix Potter, Kitty in Boots is still protected by copyright. The author died in December 1943 her published works came out of copyright after 70 years had passed, that is in January 2014. Kitty in Boots on the other hand is an unpublished work and is caught by the rule which keeps a vast number of unpublished works in copyright until 2039 (see previous blog posts explaining the 2039 rule and the recent Free our History campaign to have it changed). The copyright in Potter’s works was left to her publisher and now appear to belong to Penguin.

The 2039 rule is a peculiarity of UK law and is not found in the copyright regime’s of other EU member states, although anomalous differences in copyright duration are quite common. This has prompted organisations representing libraries and archives to lobby for a harmonisation of copyright term as part of the current review of  EU Copyright law. See for example Copyright for Knowledge and also LACA’s London Manifesto.

 

 

 

 

Pirate Party MEP nails her colours to the mast

ucylcjh30 January 2015

Julia Reda, MEP for the German Piratenpartei, has just published the first draft of her report on copyright reform commissioned by the European Parliament. You can also read Ms Reda’s blog, here . The measures recommended in the report are very favourable to users of copyright material, including the reduction of the standard copyright term to the author’s lifetime plus 50 years (the minimum requirement of the Berne Convention). Among other measures the Report also recommends:

Extending the Text and Data Mining exception to cover TDM for any purpose (including commercial); Creating a new exception permitting libraries to lend e-books, “…irrespective of the place of access”

The report also favours a new piece of EU legislation replacing the Copyright Directive, which would apply immediately across the EU without requiring national implementation (it would need to be a “Regulation” as opposed to the current Copyright Directive).

It would follow that the various exceptions included in the new legislation would be mandatory in all member states. The current list of exceptions in Article 5 of the Directive resembles a smorgasbord where the member states can select the exceptions of their choice while leaving others on the table. The current situation creates complexity and uncertainty around cross border access to copyright material within the EU. It will be interesting to see how Julia Reda’s report is received by the European Parliament and other EU bodies.