Copyright, that is the exclusive right given to originator of works for a period of years to print publish perform file of record literary artistic or musical material is about to suffer a fundamental blow.
The Copyright Licensing Agency has applied to the Intellectual Property Office to Operate an Extended Copyright Licence which would allow it to licence the works of authors it does not represent. Specially the application seeks a licence which respect to published editions of literary works including any artistic works embedded in such editions. The UK introduced the Extended Copyright Licence in 2014 using power granted under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 and following a recommendation in the Hargreaves report that allowing such schemes would help get copyright moving in the digital age and generally be a good thing for the economy. There are safeguards of course. Only a Collective Management Organisation which is in itself a regulated body and sufficiently representative of the type of right holder represented by the proposed Extended Copyright Licence can apply. The scheme operated has to be sufficiently detailed including how the operator will track down and pay right holders whose works are licensed under the scheme. The operator is also bound to properly publicise the scheme both before it comes into operation and during its life so that non-and members can opt out of they wish to do so. The opt out provision is intended as the key safeguard to ensuring that right holders retain control over their work.
This new schemes is not universally welcomed or un-controversial. The scheme is radical in its approach. The closest relation around is the orphan work scheme run by the Intellectual Property Office which can grant a limited licence to a use for certain works where the works creator cannot be found. The difference with the extended Copyright Licence scheme is that the author/creators are known but their permission to use their work is not being sought up front. Unless copyright owners opt out their work can be licensed and all that will be entitled to is an account of licence fees collected from the operator.
The CLA application is currently in its consultation phase and will be until 2 February 2018. You can review and comment here.
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