The following is an independent research essay analysing whether or not the UK should adopt a general, fair use defence to copyright infringement similar to the one found in US law. It was produced as part of my degree course, although the submitted version varies significantly due to limits on the length. This is the “original” version and contains a detailed look at copyright, its scope, history and purpose, before examining the fair dealing and fair use defences. Sections of the essay will be appearing in stand-alone posts, in (hopefully) a more accessible form.
As always, any comments or thoughts would be appreciated.
This essay will critically discuss whether the fair dealing and public interest defences found in the UK’s copyright law are inflexible and restrictive, and if they should be replaced by a general fair use defence. The application of fair dealing and public interest to other areas of law will not be considered. The essay will start begin by introducing the UK’s copyright law, its history and purpose, before defining and describing the fair dealing and public interest defences. It will then analyse the advantages and disadvantages of these defences. It will then introduce the fair use defence found in US law and examining whether it would be a more suitable option. It will conclude that while fair dealing is inflexible and restrictive, fair use is insufficiently certain and impractical to adopt. The essay will end by considering additional options and suggest that a more fundamental reform of copyright law is required, based on limiting the rights conferred by it to only those areas where it is justified.