Last week, the process of line-by-line scrutiny of the
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (the 'Bill') by its
parliamentary committee (the 'Committee') began. The Bill
deals with a number of themes, including provisions amending
employment and competition regulation, the Enterprise Act 2002 and
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the
'CDPA'). This article deals with the proposed changes
to the CDPA and the Bill's timetable for scrutiny by the House
of Commons and House of Lords.
The key amendments to the CDPA will be:
to abolish the abbreviated 25-year protection where artistic
copyright subsists in a three-dimensional design that has been
created using "an industrial process", giving it parity
with other copyright works (i.e. life of the author plus 70 years);
to allow the Secretary of State to use statutory instruments to
create new exceptions to copyright infringement, and to repeal
existing exceptions. This will result in a lower level of
scrutiny than the current system, where changes to such exceptions
must be made by primary legislation only.
The Government claims that, if enacted, the act will allow
parliament to respond to technological changes more rapidly and
build flexibility into the system of specifying copyright and
performance rights exceptions. Opponents claim that the
proposed reforms will not have the impact that the Government
anticipates and will in fact result in more uncertainty for
businesses, designers and authors who rely on assets which are
protected by copyright and the income they generate.
At the Bill's second reading, Business Secretary Vince Cable
sought to give assurances that the Government will not change
copyright law without proper parliamentary scrutiny, and will
primarily use the new powers to maintain levels of criminal
penalties. However, there was no mention of how new
exceptions implemented by statutory instrument will affect
copyright holders' rights on an international level. In a
world where designs are increasingly being shared across borders in
order to lower businesses' cost bases, businesses are concerned
with how rights that are afforded to copyright holders on a
national level may be enforced internationally. This period
of consideration therefore may be a crucial one for interested
parties to play a role in shaping copyright reform.
The Bill is currently undergoing line-by-line scrutiny, with the
sessions open to the public, until 17 July. Written
submissions to the Committee are being accepted until that date.
Information for making written submissions can be found here. The Committee is expected to report
by 17 July, after which a third reading in parliament will be
scheduled before the Bill's first reading in the House of Lords
later this year.
Further information on the Bill and its progression through
Parliament can be found here.
This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron
McKenna's free online information service. To register for
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