uk[1]In a time when the progress of copyright law seems not simply stuck but actually going backward, it’s nice to see at least one country trying to move ahead. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a six-month review of UK copyright law to try to make it “fit for the Internet age.”

In particular, Cameron has an eye on the United States’s doctrine of fair use, which permits limited types of unauthorized use of copyrighted material, which he believes is helpful to allow companies to innovate and produce new kinds of goods and services. At present, the UK does not have fair use provisions—and indeed, under current UK law it is not even legal to rip CDs to mp3s.

Of course, it’s uncertain how useful a fair use provision will be, given that even over here in the USA media companies seem to do everything they can to eliminate it—most notably passing the DMCA, which means that it is illegal to strip DRM from files such as e-books even if you want to do it so you can make a legitimate fair use of them.

Needless to say, UK media groups are making cautionary noises about creators deserving to be rewarded. Publishers Association chief exec Richard Mollet said:

"The Publishers Association will work very closely with the Intellectual Property Office during this six month review to ensure that rights holders’ interests are not regarded as an obstacle to creating internet based business models, as some believe, but rather as the foundation of the UK’s world-beating creative, cultural and educational publishing industries."

(Found via Slashdot.)


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