Designs Copyright

Law Reducing the Copyright Term for Artistic Works Produced by Industrial Process to be Repealed

November 15, 2013

Under current UK law copyright protection usually exists for the life of the creator plus 70 years. However, where a design is derived from an artistic work, this term may be reduced to 25 years from the date that copies of the original artistic work were first marketed. This law is different from those in most EU countries and many UK businesses argue that it is a major source of profit loss.

By Tom Hansard on Friday 15th November 2013.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) generally provides that protection under copyright exists for the life of the creator plus 70 years. However, where a design is derived from an artistic work the term of copyright may be limited under Section 52 of the CDPA. Section 52 applies where, with the copyright owner’s consent, an artistic work has been copied by an industrial process (i.e. more than 50 copies are made) and marketed. Where Section 52 applies, the term of protection is only 25 years from the end of the year in which copies of the artistic work are first marketed. Most EU countries do not limit the duration of protection for artistic works which have been copied by an industrial process and marketed. Therefore it has been suggested that Section 52 is a source of profit loss for many companies. It has also been suggested that Section 52 enables online traders to use the UK as a gateway to import replicas into the EU where laws of other EU Member States would consider such replicas as infringing a copyright owner’s rights. In April 2013, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill was passed which enables Section 52 CDPA to be repealed. The Government is now gathering evidence in order to decide when the change of law should be implemented and what provisions would be required to ensure a fair transition to the new law. The Government aims to publish proposals for transitional provisions in 2014. After the repeal of Section 52 CDPA, the term of protection for the artistic work of many designers will be significantly extended. On the other hand, businesses which presently legitimately replicate certain artistic works will no longer be able to do so. The present consultation will help the Government provide fair transitional provisions for such parties and can be viewed here. If you have any queries about Section 52 CDPA or copyright in general, you can reach Tom Hansard at [email protected]

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