UK: The Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC)

Last Updated: 1 March 2002
Article by Aron Dindol

The United Kingdom will soon be required to implement an EC Directive which will result in new legislation affecting UK copyright law.

This new Directive will impact on owners of copyright including broadcasters, proprietors of web-sites, artists and musicians, who need to be aware of the ways in which they can protect their works. There are potential new rights and remedies available to them, as set out below. Copyright protects the expression of an idea and can only exist in certain categories of work, such as original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcast or cable programmes and typographical arrangements. There is no need to register for copyright, as it is an automatic right. Right holders may control use by others of their work in various ways.

The Directive on copyright and related rights in the information society (the Copyright Directive) was adopted on 9th April, 2001 by the EU Council and has been published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. The aim of the legislation is to harmonise the legal framework on copyright through increased certainty, while providing for a high level of protection of intellectual property.

The Directive seeks to promote growth and increased competitiveness in European industry, both in the area of content provision and information technology.

The Directive requires member states to implement legislation adapting their current laws on copyright and related rights to respond adequately to economic realities such as new forms of exploitation of intellectual property rights, for example, new technology including digital video disks (DVD) and online distribution of music over the internet. Implementing the Directive is likely to involve an updating of certain copyright offences to deal with the issue of online piracy.

Key Provisions

In many ways, the Directive mirrors the current UK legal position under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA), as amended by the Broadcasting Acts and further secondary legislation. There are, however, a number of provisions which will necessitate a change in the UK legal position.

The Directive contains a mandatory provision giving right holders exclusive rights to authorise or prohibit direct or indirect, temporary or permanent reproduction of their works by any means and in any form. This provision applies to authors, performers, phonogram producers, film producers and broadcasting organisations.

The Directive also requires member states to provide authors with the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication of their works to the public by wire or wireless means in such a way that members of the public may access them on demand. This will assist right holders in protecting digital broadcasting and "on demand" services.

There is a mandatory exception to the general restriction on reproduction outlined above, for

  1. reproduction of works which are transient or incidental and form an integral and essential part of a technological process whose sole purpose is to enable a transmission in a network between third parties by an intermediary; or
  2. lawful use of a work which has no independent economic significance.

Member states are only obliged to implement this exception. The remaining exemptions contained in Article 5 of the Directive are optional. The list is exhaustive, and it includes exemptions for private copying, use by social institutions, teaching, use for press comment and where such use assists those with a disability.

The Directive also introduces a concept of fair compensation for right holders. In deciding what is to be fair compensation, member states must evaluate the possible harm to the right holders resulting from the act in question.

The Directive also contains provisions outlawing the circumventing of security measures designed to protect copyright works from being copied. These are designed to allow for more comprehensive protection for technological measures used to safeguard rights or identify material (eg digital watermarks).


The principle behind the Directive, namely the harmonisation of copyright law on a European level has been welcomed. However, given the diversity of member state responses which will necessarily result from the free rein given to member states to pick and choose which exemptions they use, there still may be considerable disharmony with copyright laws of member states.

One of the most hotly debated provisions of the Directive is the private-use exemption. The European Commission agreed to limit the scope of this exemption, to the extent that an exemption may be put into national legislation allowing a natural person to reproduce works "for private use and for ends that are neither directly nor indirectly commercial, on condition that the right holders receive fair compensation". This concession does increase the protection of right holders, however member states will need to interpret the words "directly or indirectly commercial" and there is likely to be some disparity in both determining whether compensation is applicable and also the form of such compensation among member states.

The Directive takes into account the fact that in the digital environment, the services of intermediaries may increasingly be used by third parties for infringing activities. The Directive assumes that intermediaries are best placed to bring these infringing activities to an end. Member states are urged to allow right holders the possibility of applying for an injunction against any intermediary that carries a third party’s infringement of a protected work or other subject matter in a network. This has been criticised by advocates of an open network environment. It is argued that the new law could require surveillance of communications to ensure enforcement, and also there is a fear that internet service providers would deny access to persons who cannot provide ISPs with financial guarantees or insurance in relation to works being transmitted.

There is a concern that the speed of innovation in the information society may leave the Copyright Directive looking out of date. The Directive tries to address this by providing for regular reviews of the developments in the digital market, and this is to be welcomed.

The UK Government has welcomed the Copyright Directive, and has agreed in principal to various exemptions. Many of the exemptions already exist under UK law and the Government believes that the Directive will achieve its aim to increase the protection of right holders without ignoring the rights of individuals to make legitimate copies.

Draft regulations of the UK legislation are expected to be available for consultation purposes in the Spring of 2002. The deadline for implementation of the Directive by member states is 22nd December 2002.

For further information, please contact Aron Dindol

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.