British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and others, R(on the application of) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and another  EWHC 1723 (Admin) – read original judgment and  EWHC 2041 (Admin), 17 July 2015 read remedies judgment
On 19 June 2015, Green J ruled that an exception to copyright infringement for private use was unlawful, at common law, because of flaws in the consultation process which had preceded its enactment. See Rosalind English’s post here.
The judge left open for further argument what should be done about this unlawfulness.
The Secretary of State agreed that the offending statutory instrument should be quashed, and that he would re-consider whether a further private copying exception should be introduced.
But the parties disagreed about the date from when it should be quashed. Should it be prospective or retrospective? Or, in the Latin that lawyers still love, ex nunc (from now) or ex tunc (from then)? (Auto-correct so wanted those words to be “ex tune” – which would have been very appropriate, but wrong)
British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and others, R(on the application of) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and another  EWHC 1723 (Admin) – read judgment
An exception to copyright infringement for private use has failed to survive a challenge in the High Court. But this may not be the end of the story. Although he accepted part of the claimants’ contentions, Green J observed that
the Claimants’ argument does not sit well or easily with the very unusual and particular circumstances which have led to the decision to introduce the private use exception in the first place. These are that the advent of digitalisation has led to a market where device sellers and consumers assume they may copy and where rightholders have not sought private law remedies against infringers.[my italics]
It is a particular feature of this case that there is a widespread consensus that the law has signally failed to keep up with market reality and with reasonable consumer expectations and indeed has been brought into disrepute by its condemnation as illegal of activities which are now accepted by consumers as lawful and which in actual fact form the basic commercial premise upon which copying and storage devices are actively sold throughout Europe.
Having upheld a small part of the challenge, Green J will now hear submissions as to what flows from this conclusion and from the judgment generally. In particular he will hear submissions as to whether any issue of law that he had decided should be referred to the Court of Justice and if so as to the question(s) that should be asked. Continue reading →
The Government of the United States of America -v- O’Dwyer, Westminster Magistrates’ Court – Read judgment
It seems appropriate, on the day when Wikipedia shut down for 24 hours to protest against US anti-piracy legislation, to talk about piracy (in the copyright sense) and what role human rights law has to play in the perpetual battle against it.
It is a topic that polarises, with some considering piracy to be no more moral than any other theft, and others seeing those who commit piracy offences as fighting for freedom of expression and liberal copyright laws. In the case of Richard O’Dwyer, a young man who is accused of setting up a website which breaches US copyright law and who is facing extradition to the US for trial, he attempted to block his extradition by relying on a combination of human rights and other objections relating to the manner and circumstances surrounding the request.
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