However, little noticed by the wider world and much to the collective chagrin of the big music labels, changes to copyright exceptions were approved by Parliament this week. After a hiccup earlier in the summer when they were postponed by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI), the
Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014
Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014
were approved by the House of Lords shortly before 6.30pm on Tuesday, 29 July. The regulations are now due to be implemented on 1 October 2014.
Debate commenced 4.42pm (at column 1553) and there was a further last minute attempt, by members of the Lords sympathetic to traditional big music labels' interests, to undermine the format shifting exception. It nevertheless passed unscathed.
It means that from 1 October, for the first time in the UK, we will be lawfully permitted to copy our CDs to our digital music players and from old to new music players, for private use. Though most people don't realise this common act is not currently allowed under UK copyright law. Likewise it comes as a surprise when people find out that parody is also not a currently recognised exception to copyright in the UK.
These regulations are important additions to the IP policy framework that bring the UK closer into line with international norms, although the parody exception is quite narrowly construed to allow only 'fair dealing' use of the original work.
So it is well done to -
Lord Younger of Leckie, the previous intellectual property minister, who saw these regulations through at government level for most of the past 18 months
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the very new IP minister, who steered the regulations through their final hurdle.
Most especially, however, significant praise is due to Matthew Williams and the copyright team at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Tony Clayton and his team of economists at the UK Intellectual Property Office, all of whom have been working tirelessly for years on improving the UK's IP policy.
There are a lot of very smart, hard working officials in public service attempting to educate the government on the need for evidence based policy making in the intellectual property and wider technology, security, economics, social, environmental and human rights policy arenas. They deserve our respect and thanks and so, for once, I'd like to make an effort say thank you, especially to everyone involved in bringing these regulations to fruition.
Thanks also for listening and taking account of the work of my old friend, Mark Rogers. Mark would have been pleased but he'd also have been the first to remind us, gently but firmly, that we still have a lot of work to do. The road to sustainable enlightenment in policy involves unfailing care, hard graft and eternal vigilance.