Digital Times They Are A Changin’ – Impending Changes to the Permitted Use of Copyright Works

Come 1 June 2014, you will finally be able to copy your CDs onto digital platforms such as iTunes without falling foul of copyright infringement.

The UK Government has finished considering whether to extend copyright exceptions. The aim of which is for the law to keep pace with the changes in technology to the public’s ever growing use of digital media. However, progress is being made at a fairly slow pace; progressive recommendations to keep up with the digital age were made three years ago in the Hargreaves Review. The report encouraged governments to adopt legislation which would allow private individuals to exploit every exception under EU law.


There are a number of changes to the exceptions of copyright but those of most significance involve the following:-

Personal copies for private use

Private individuals will be able to make copies of media (such as CDs, eBooks or videos) in order to change its format (ie physical CD to mp3) or to act as a backup. Such copies cannot be used by anyone else. Businesses will be able to legally manufacture technology or create programs that allow individuals to make private copies. It is worth noting that copies cannot be made for direct or indirect commercial use; a business would not be able to make copies of protected works for their employees.


Unlike in previous legislation, individuals will be permitted to make use of copyright material for the purpose of parody. Such use will only fall under the exception if it is limited. For example, a few lines of a song in a comedy sketch would be deemed reasonable but the use of a whole song would not be.


Individuals will be given greater freedom in using quotations that are taken from copyright works without permission. Again, as with parody, the use to be reasonable and proportionate so quoting a substantial part of, or whole book will not be justifiable. The use of quotation, in order to be a permitted act, must be accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement of the author – unless it is practically impossible to do so.

Research and private study

The copying of protected works for the purpose of private study is to be extended to include sound recordings, films and broadcasts – previous legislation only included the likes of literary works. Libraries and universities will also be able to provide on-site access to users for private study of recordings, broadcasts, literary works etc.

Further to the extended and additional copyright exceptions, legislation will provide rules to prevent copyright holders from being able to contract out of copyright exceptions. Such provisions will ensure the end-user’s rights, as licensee, are protected. However, these provisions will not prevent copyright holders from adopting DRM (Digital Rights Management) or TPMs (Technical Protection Measures) in order to protect their content from unauthorised copying, which will inadvertently create barriers to permitted copying. An individual will be able to raise their concerns over obstructive DRM/TPMs, preventing permitted acts, to the Secretary of State who will have the power to limit or override these restrictive measures in order to facilitate permitted copying.

The likelihood is that aspects of permitted use and the exceptions of copyright will develop over time and be shaped by case law. For the time-being, it would be wise to remain cautious and seek legal advice if in doubt regarding the new exceptions.

Ellis Walls
Trainee Solicitor – Corporate & Commercial

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *