What Makes Something Fair? – A close look at fair dealing

When copyright law was first introduced by the Copyright Act 1710, there were no defences available – is a registered book was copying, it was an infringement. Over the next two hundred years, judicial activism in this area led to a general defence known as “fair use.” The importance of this defence was recognised by Parliament and was included in the 1911 Copyright Act under the new name “fair dealing”.

Today, the fair dealing defences cover three main areas of permitted acts; private study and research, criticism and review, and news reporting. This is an exhaustive list and no other types of use can be covered. These defences are now found in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act and added to these is an exception for education. While the requirements for each individual area are laid out in the Act, the definition of fairness is not given and so has been developed by the Courts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Legalising Format-shifting

Format-shifting, space-shifting and time-shifting are curious oddities of copyright law. Two of these three are currently illegal in the UK, all are routinely done by thousands, if not millions of people across the country. While there have been attempts and drives to change this by legalising format- and space-shifting, the current EU laws on copyright seem designed to prevent such a reduction to copyright law. Read the rest of this entry »