29 January 2015
In November the government asked for feedback on their proposal to limit the duration of copyright in old unpublished works. We asked members to respond and made a submission.
We agree in principle with the aims of the proposal to provide greater access to and publication of very old works, and do not think these should benefit from copyright protection. However, we wished to state our concern that, rather than meeting these aims, the amendments would instead cause administrative chaos and unjustifiably remove rights from authors’ heirs, while giving a windfall advantage of publication right to others – thus hampering the ability of researchers and others to freely quote from works which have gone out of copyright. Recent orphan works legislation has made it far easier to use old works where the owners cannot be traced and those procedures should be used rather than unnecessarily amending existing law.
Today the government announced it will not be introducing the proposed changes, saying:
[We] received a range of responses from various interested parties. Although many respondents were supportive of the Government’s proposed measures, a number of respondents raised some concerns with the policy and its potential negative impact on owners of copyright works. The Government recognises these concerns and as a result has decided not to take action in this area at this time, but will instead seek further views from affected parties.
The SoA welcomes the acknowledgement of the need for further consideration before taking action and is delighted that our members’ views have been taken into account.