Copyright Laws in the UK
Copyright laws in the UK emanated from the Statute of Anne in 1710. It is said that these laws started in the UK before spreading effectively to other parts of the globe. It is crucial to note that the present copyright laws in the UK are found in the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act of 1988 that effectively came into force in 1989. The works eligible for protection under the UK copyright laws include the literary works, musical works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts, and the typographical arrangement of published works. All these works have to qualify appropriately for them to be protected by the copyright laws. It is worth noting that any work would qualify for copyright protection in cases where the author is a British citizen, a citizen of British dependant territories, a British subject or a person protected by Britain. Additionally, a work will qualify for copyright protection in cases where the author is domiciled in the UK or any other country that is covered by the protection clause. A work will also be protected if it covers a body incorporated under the laws of the UK or any other country covered by the clause. Despite the fact that the UK was the first country around the globe to come up with copyright law, it is immensely believed that this law has an unnecessary rigid approach to the protection of copyrighted works in the UK. The rigidity in the UK copyright law is seen in terms of private copying, education, quotation and the reporting of news, research and the provision for private study, parody, caricature, and pastiche, data analysis purposed at non-commercial research, access for people with different disabilities, public administration, archiving and preservation, and the overall fair deal restrictions. It is asserted that the law exhibits enormous rigidity in these areas hence making it ineffective in the delivery of the required services. This brings about immense challenges in the provision of the required services concerning copyright protection. Therefore, some level of flexibility could have enabled the copyright law to function appropriately in line with the systems adopted in other developed countries such as the US.
This essay explicates the view that the UK copyrights laws always exhibit a rigid approach to the protection of different pieces of work in the country.
The copyright law bans any cases of private coping by individuals. According to Bently, et al. (2010, p 31) this has been viewed to be rigid as the law does not give a provision to the real owners of these manual copies of literary, musical or artistic works. This prevents the re-production of this piece of work for any purpose whether for private or public use. This has been viewed to be highly rigid as producing these works for personal use should be accepted since the piece of work has been possessed by an individual. On the contrary, the law should only prevent the copying of these works for commercial purpose. This should be the main point of concern as it will lead to financial advantage using the intellectual knowledge of the copyright owner which will be unethical. Wang (2009, p 34) reiterates that this provision has prevented the transfer of musical collection to other storing data for owner’s personal benefits which has resulted into various inconveniencies as a result of the provision. For example, the copyright law has always prevented the copying of musical works in compact disks or in other storing devices which has caused various constraints besides being viewed as retrogressive.
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In the education sector, the copyright licensing has not provided a favourable environment for learning systems. Atkinson (2007, p 41) affirms that the copyright licensing policy needs to be revised to accommodate the constantly changing educational programs. Owing to the increased adoption of the distance learning programs, there is a constant growing need to copy these pieces of works to use in the distance learning. The students are always in demand for the copies of the copyright works used in the learning process. Since the law has banned the incorporation of these developments in the education sector, it has been viewed to be rigid. This is because it has led to various inconveniencies besides increasing the costs involved in acquiring the original copies that could be minimised if copied items are used. Consequently, due to the technological advancement in the educational sector, there has been an increased demand to transfer various learning information through the internet services. This has been made possible through the scanning services that can be accessed. However, the copyright law has been a barrier to the access of these services hence being a major challenge in the education sector. These constraints have depicted the rigidity of the copyright law. In addition, several institutions of learning are paying huge sums of money as copyright licensing fee provision. This has been in most cases above the scanning and the photocopying activities that are undertaken by the institutions. This has initiated the desire for a provision that will allow these institutions to pay for only for magnitude of the scanning or the copying that they undertake. Brenncke (2007, p 10) opines that the UK copyright law provides a 1% copying limit; this has always been a barrier in most cases in which this requirement falls below the desired copies hence resulting into ineffectiveness in the educational sector.
The law of copyright has also been a barrier in the media operations. This has been viewed as rigidity in the part of the law hence there is a need for flexible statutes that can be amended to accommodate the operations of these media groups. It provides several limitations that control the operations of these media houses (Crook, 2013, p 29). In the news reporting, this has been a major challenge as it has put restrictions to the length of the copyrighted work that can be quoted. This has in most cases caused the distortion of the intended message to be conveyed leading to various interpretations. Besides, the laws have created biasness in the media operations as they will be selective in the message that they will directly adopt creating varied public perceptions. In the print media, the restrictions have been devastating. The law banned the printing of certain lengths of copyrighted literary appreciations causing difficulty in their operations. These statutes have limited these media groups from meeting the demands of the market that are the users of the media printouts like journals hence limiting the freedom of the media. This copyright statute of the UK does not conform to other laws of the EU and even the International laws (The British Academy; The Publishers Association 2008, p7). These laws allow for the copying of the copyrighted work as long as the source and the author of the piece work are quoted. The same provision should be allowed by the law for the purpose consistency in the laws besides ensuring efficient media operations. In addition, the law has resulted into massive financial constraint to the media firms. The law demands high licensing fee for the copyrighted works which has been viewed to be unnecessary since the firms indulge in few cases of duplication of these documentaries yet they remit a constant fee. This is rigid as the law should be flexible to allow varied fees in relation to the size of the duplication that is undertaken. Similarly, the media has experienced time loss in acquiring the legal formalities that are lengthy and involving which could be achieved easily through other efficient methods if the law could allow for flexibility.
The law covers a long duration of time that is likely to result into various challenges. The long period may not allow for integration and adoption of certain changes that will prove beneficial wihout the owner’s agreement. For example, Davies (2010, p49) reiterates that the copyright lasts for 70 years from the calendar year in which the author dies. This period is too long and in case of death of the author, it may be difficult to effect relevant changes. Owing to changes in the market tastes and preference there may be a need to adopt various integrations in films. However, the copyright duration will avoid the adoption of these changes that may result into the piece of work being outdated in the market. This may also be banned by the author’s death and hence lack a formal consent to effect the changes that may prove beneficial. Similarly, due to technological changes, they may be a need to integrate certain aspects into the artisan work so as to meet market technological demand. This is also manifested in the case of Crown copyright that covers a period of 125 years. The copyright protects the works of crown officers that may include legislative works, reports and government procedures. Due to the passing of time, the legislations and the procedures may need to be changed. These may be as a result of the changing structures and the constantly changing environment. However, the rigidity of the law will not allow these desired integrations with the permission of the owner and timeframe. These new enactments will even face more crises on the demise of the copyright owner. Parliamentary copyright has also the same drawbacks; these are the works made with the participation of the House of Lords or House of Commons in the United Kingdom. They are always protected by the copyright provision for a period of 50 years (Derclaye 2009, p71). This has also depicted rigidity in the law since it allows for the introduction or removal of certain concepts into the already existing copyright works.
The rigidity of the United Kingdom copyright law is again pronounced in the case of parody and caricature. Parody is a development of a comic work from a copyrighted piece of written work. The comedy industry is a developed industry in the United Kingdom and various comedies are developed from already existing works. Dreier & Hugenholtz (2006, p 17) are of the view that the field has faced charges from the law that include the royalties to incentives that are charged for the creation of these comedies. This has met different arguments as comedy is viewed to be an original work since it does not involve the literal copying. Since the law has not allowed the exclusion or the review of these charges, it evidentially reveals the rigidity of the law. This rigidity is also revealed in the case of caricature, the creation of pictures from the existing copyrighted works. According to the United Kingdom copyright law, this act constitutes copying hence certain fees are charges in respect to this. Similarly, the charges have met critics as activities of caricature are viewed to be original as they adopt a different mode of presentation and should not therefore demand any charges. However, the exclusion of these charges has not been possible hence further explicating the rigidity of the United Kingdom copyright law.
Since its implementation the United Kingdom copyright law has given protection to the copyright holder of exclusive rights that prohibit the copying of sound recordings, films and broadcasts. The law has remained so rigid to an extent that it has not yet acknowledged the importance of learning and research to students. Researches and private studies have become undeniably expensive and some students have been unable to do their researches as well as private studies. According to D’Agostino (2008, p42), some researchers may need to copy a part of a film, a recording or even a broadcast but because the law has remained rigid for quite a long time, they are required to go to the copyright holder in a bid to ask for permission to do the copying. This has often proved to be very costly and rather discouraging. Some students and researchers lack the ability to access such copyright holders to ask for permission to go ahead and copy the film, broadcast and/ or recordings. Apparently, the copyright law does not consider the importance of accommodating researchers and private students even though they are not directly commercially involved. The government should revise this law and allow private students to have an easy access to films, recordings and the broadcasts, which will be beneficial to learning, research and education as a whole. It should legalise private students and researchers to freely and cheaply access the materials in order to enhance improvement and novelty amongst the youth (Stokes 2001, p 48). To avoid infringements, the government should consider vetting those who require the adjustment to this law such as education centres, libraries, and archives. The government should recognise the significant role of copyright protection while at the same time credit the need and vitality of allowing researchers and private students to extensively carry out their research and study without necessarily incurring huge costs that sometimes are not commensurate with the amount of work produced.
Since its implementation and execution, the copyright law has for quite a long time remained inflexible even to acknowledge the presence of people with disabilities. The law does not recognise the needs of people with disabilities and allow them to access copyright materials in accessible formats. Fitzgerald & Atkinson (2011, p 21) inform that this has denied such individuals an opportunity and the right to access and use copyright materials in their accessible formats where those legally released and suitable for them are not yet provided in the market. The government holds any individual including those confirmed with disabilities liable for infringements of copyright law, which is undeniably inhuman considering the fact that there are some cases where such individuals direly need the support of copyright materials for their own use. The education sector has evolved not only in the United Kingdom but also in other different countries such as the United State of America whereby people with disabilities are incorporated in the educational system. This was not the case some decades ago but since the state law considers education of people with disabilities to be legitimate, it is astonishing to note that the government has remained rigid in seeing the need to adjust the copyright law and accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. The law does not recognise that people with disabilities require different formats of the same materials used by people without disabilities in the learning environment. There is a need for the government to adjust accordingly the copyright law in a bid to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities who are not purporting to use the copyright materials for commercial gains. The government can as well undertake such institutions through vetting to ensure that there is no case of malpractice relating to the legalisation of direct use of the copyrighted materials without necessarily getting permission from the copyright holder.
The inflexibility of the copyright law has seen many researchers locked out of use of computers to study and analyse published research results. The copyright law does not allow people to get access to published research results without the permission from the relevant authority. This is mainly done for the purposes of prohibiting infringements on the law for commercial gain. However, the law has not yet realised that there are those individuals who are after data analysis for non-commercial research such as educational research by students as a requirement in their academic programs. Garnett (1994, p 30) agrees that the unnecessary rigidity of the law bans such desperate students to extensively conduct their research which could be beneficial not only as a fulfillment in the students’ course but to the governments as a whole as far as decision making is concerned. The government needs to fine-tune and amend these laws for the benefit of the educational system which is a vital facet in the development of the country. The amendment is not only beneficial to the education sector but to the UK as a whole as this will allow for better research findings, improved knowledge discovery, and a vast array of research findings that shall be relied upon through consideration of alternatives in a bid to make better and reliable decisions as far as the use of empirical evidence to support a claim is concerned. The copyright framework should be revised in a bid to provide appropriate foundations for learning and promotion of a pioneering economy for the 21st century which is certainly beneficial to the United Kingdom (Seville 1999, p 37). The government should try and recognise the non-commercial nature of research and explicate vividly the divergence between the copyright law and the use of digital paraphernalia and resources for educational purposes.
The unnecessary rigidity of the copyright protection is evident in the ambiguous restrictions in the field of science and medicine. The law poses strict restrictions concerning these fields and they direly need to be adjusted and embrace new licensing models, which are indispensable to the sustainment of scientific progress. Gee (2007, p 8) asserts that copyright protection acts as a potential obstacle to scientists because of the fact that it is expensive to acquire research findings because scientists have to seek for permission from the copyright holders. This poses significant impediments in the integration of research findings among scientists in the United Kingdom. Researchers and scientists need to share their findings for the purpose of building up reliable data with greater validity and credibility. The government requires reviewing its copyright law and endeavouring to incorporate inevitable changes that have to be otherwise accommodated. The flexibility of the copyright law relative to these fields will encourage development of valid study findings, which will in turn enhance novelty and ingenuity amongst individuals in the UK. Besides, a review of the copyright law will enhance the update of the entire law system as well as making the whole population aware of the existence of the laws and their relevant applications.
The UK copyright laws are rigid in terms of public administration of the copyrights. Many exceptions exist towards the proactive sharing of third party information online. Public administration is extremely strict and is highly rigid in terms of allowing the public share third party information relating to copyrights. Gervais (2010, p 56) agrees that the public administration approach to the UK copyright law puts excessive impediments to any individual wishing to share information that is already out and useful to the public. The exceptions that exist, such as selective sharing of information, make it difficult for the country to adopt more advanced and innovative ideas relating to the already registered copyrights. Notably, the exceptions put in place by the public administration also affect the spread of the nature of the copyright as individuals do not have an opportunity to understand it and the subject of its focus. This puts impediments to the swift acceptance and support of the copyrighted works because of the assumption that they are for individual consumption. The laws provide that individuals must seek for adequate permission and get authority before accessing and sharing any copyrighted work online. This is illogical pertaining to the copyrights because it negates the understanding of a specific work copyrighted (Helmholz 2004, p 47). The exceptions also lead to the development of the perception that the work belongs to one person and no one else is allowed to access it. This is likely to affect the reception of the complete work when it is presented to the public domain. This implies that the public law in the UK has to be adjusted to avert most of the restrictions that it puts in place concerning copyrights in the UK. This will facilitate more public participation in the development of the already protected work without any form of manipulation. The work could also get an opportunity to develop with immense levels of innovativeness and contributions.
Additionally, the UK copyright law is perceived to be excessively rigid in matters relating to archiving and preservation of the copyrighted works (Matulionyt%u0117 2011, p 22). This is in relation to the allowance of museums, libraries, galleries, and archives to have the right to preserve any form of copyrighted work that is in their permanent possession and cannot be replaced. It is crucial to note that museums, libraries, and galleries in the UK are always subjected to enormous restrictions when it comes to the preservation of copyrighted works. They have to undergo rigorous steps in the application to preserve some of the most crucial copyrighted works in the UK. This has led to many delays in the preservation of important works as others have been lost or stolen while in the possession of authors. They always have to reach a difficult arrangement with the holders of the copyright making it cumbersome for them to get an opportunity to keep irreplaceable works in a safer place (Hephaestus Books 2011, p 19). The rigidities related to the preservation of the copyrighted works in museums, libraries, and galleries directly deny members of the public an opportunity to experience the copyrighted works of the country. The denial of a chance to members of the public also tends to translate to the alienation of the public from the works that they are supposed to access and enjoy their benefits. The denial of the museums in the UK to have access and preserve some of the key copyrighted works translates to a direct denial of the future of the work in the UK. This implies that the work could disappear along the way making it difficult for future usage and enjoyment by the generations to come. They will not have an opportunity to enjoy the works performed by superb artists and writers in the past. Therefore, the UK copyright law exhibits enormous restrictions in terms of allowing museums, galleries and libraries to keep some of the important and irreplaceable works in the country. This rigidity could affect the availability of the works in future.
The law is also rigid in terms of performance and broadcast of the copyrighted work in public. The UK copyright law provides that it is an offense for individuals to perform or broadcast their copyrighted works in public. Lester & Mitchell (1989, p 71) affirm that this implies that the work is only owned by a single individual who is not granted the right to share the work with other individuals. This limitation makes it difficult for the artists or the owner of the written work to gain confidence in the utilisation of the work. Again, the artist or the owner of the written work would not have an opportunity to measure the public reception of the work because of the denial of performance in public. This also denies the owner of the work to measure the reception of the work by members of the public. This also means that the work would not benefit the artist effectively because of the denial of public performance which may be a source of benefit and gains to the owner of the work. The restrictions make it more difficult for the work to progress as required as it does not get the required criticism that would play an important role in the advancement of the presented piece of work. Therefore, it would be important to gain publicity and take in the required criticism. However, the restriction on performance is a rigidity that does not provide space for the publicity of the work.
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