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Spare Rib and the threatened EU Orphan works exception

Chris JHolland26 February 2019

Back in October we blogged about the threat posed to the the EU Orphan works exception by a no deal Brexit and the LACA campaign to highlight the issue.

A recent article in the Guardian highlights a concrete example of the effect of the removal of the exception, namely the case of the digital archive of content from Spare Rib, a ground-breaking feminist magazine. The Spare Rib archive has been made available online by the British Library (BL) using the Orphan works exception to good effect.

In the event of a “no deal Brexit” however the BL, in common with other cultural institutions, will no longer have the benefit of this exception simply because it can be enjoyed only by institutions in the EU (and the EEA) which, obviously, will no longer include the UK. Orphan works will no longer be covered by the exception and UK institutions such as the BL will be obliged to take down this very significant content to avoid the risk of copyright infringement.

The current process of vetting applications for orphan work status, moreover, is an EU process, run by EUIPO. The UK IPO could in principle establish a UK procedure to replace that run by EUIPO for the benefit of UK institutions, but seems to have no current intentions of doing so.  You can read what the IPO has to say about copyright and a no deal Brexit  here

Beatrix Potter and Copyright

Chris JHolland12 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 Kitty in Boots on the other hand is an unpublished work and is caught by the rule which keeps a vast number of unpublished works in copyright until 2039 (see previous blog posts explaining the 2039 rule and the recent Free our History campaign to have it changed).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.

 

 

 

 

The London Manifesto

Chris JHolland1 April 2015

A statement to promote copyright reform in Europe entitled “the London Manifesto” has been launched by the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA). With the EU carrying out a  review of its copyright legislation this year it is a very timely moment to express some bold recommendations for reforms which would assist users of copyright material, particularly in higher education and research libraries.

Further information can be found here on the CILIP website and the text of the London Manifesto can be found here. It order to give as much impetus to the initiative as possible, LACA are inviting all interested organisations to sign up to the Manifesto if the are in agreement. Following the amendments to UK copyright exceptions in 2014, the EU is the new stage for copyright reform, so it will be important to follow developments and participate. 

 

 

Upcoming Briefing on Copyright Developments

Chris JHolland2 March 2015

There is a forthcoming event which should be of great interest to information professional with responsibility for copyright issues. CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is running an Executive Briefing covering the “Latest developments in Copyright: Legislation and Licensing” on Wednesday 1st April. 

Last year’s event, which focussed especially on the new and updated exceptions to copyright was invaluable for those of us needing to understand the changes to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

This year the keynote speaker is Dr Ros Lynch, Director, Copyright Enforcement at the UK Intellectual Property Office. Will Dr Lynch talk about the Government’s strange decision not to implement the planned changes to the anachronistic 2039 copyright term which catches a vast number of older unpublished works (see previous blog posts)? We shall see!

The other speakers are all members of the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA), representing between them a wealth of knowledge and experience of copyright matters.

New CILIP Copyright Poster for Libraries

Chris JHolland9 February 2015

A new poster designed to inform library users about copyright has been published on the CILIP* website. The poster has been created by the Library and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA). The aim is to provide updated guidance which takes account of the changes to the Copyright Exceptions which were implemented by the Government during 2014. The Copyright Exceptions have become much more favourable for library users, but the task of explaining the exceptions has also become more complicated. The new CILIP poster is to be welcomed because it does provide a clear, succinct explanation and I would encourage libraries to print it out and display it by their copying equipment. The poster’s CC-BY-SA licence permits you to do that!

Displaying the appropriate copyright guidance is important for libraries of all kinds. If like UCL you benefit from the Copyright Licensing Agency HE licence, then you are obliged to display the CLA poster near your photocopiers/ scanners. But the CLA does not license ad hoc copying by students (or other members of the public) – it is designed to licence copying and scanning of teaching materials for course packs. It follows that you should display some additional guidance near your copying machines – relevant to the main use made of those machines – and the CILIP poster does fill that gap.

It is important that we should draw the attention of our library users to copyright law and the available exceptions because they need to know but also because, as librarians, we need to demonstrate that we are encouraging responsible use of copyright materials.

*Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

“Free our History” Campaign: Sad News

Chris JHolland30 January 2015

You may remember the libraries and archives campaign (supported by the UCL Library) to persuade the UK Government to reform the arcane rules which mean that a very large number of unpublished historical documents remain in copyright until 2039. The Government launched a consultation exercise on 31st October last year to gather views on its proposal to change this aspect of copyright legislation. See previous blog posts on 21st August 2014 and 3rd November 2014. More information on the issues is available in a Briefing from the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA)

The 2039 rule causes many issues for cultural institutions wishing to improve access to historically interesting material. It also swells the ranks of Orphan Works (works in copyright whose rights owners cannot be identified or located) and also keeps  UK copyright law out of step with the rest of the EU.  The response from the cultural sector, including libraries and archives was very eloquent and persuasive in its arguments for the Government’s reform proposal.

Unfortunately, not persuasive enough for the Government, which has decided not to make the necessary changes at this time, see the Government Response to the Consultation. It was thought that the problems posed by removing the ownership of copyright from those who would otherwise continue to own rights in the material until 2039 were too great.

The Government was concerned that it would face challenges under Human Rights legislation for removing property from its owners. To be fair, they have not ruled out change in the future, it is rather the case that they cannot find an acceptable way of achieving the legislative changes at the moment.

Part of the problem is of course that for a large part of the “2039 material”, although it is in copyright, the ownership is far from clear, so the owners are unlikely to draw any benefit from their intellectual property and in that sense would not be losing out. However, some of those rights owners who are aware that they own “2039 material” argued strongly against the Government’s proposals.

Free our History Campaign #Catch 2039

Chris JHolland3 November 2014

Did you know that a broad swathe of historically important unpublished works is in copyright until 2039? A campaign has been launched by CILIP, the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA) and others to persuade the UK Government to press ahead with a small but significant change to the copyright term for unpublished works.

Once the copyright term for these work is reduced to the standard (and more reasonable) author’s lifetime plus 70 years, then museums, libraries and archives will have greater freedom to display and reproduce the unpublished works they hold. The more historical items will come out of copyright immediately. (See the previous blog post of 21 August 2014 for more background).

UCL Library supports the Free our History Campaign and would encourage colleagues in the cultural and educational sector to add their voices. There is a petition to sign on the CILIP web pages Libraries and museums can also participate by  displaying a “blank page” in place of a significant unpublished work they would like to exhibit but are prevented from doing so by the current copyright term for these works.