Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Memorandum submitted by The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society Limited (ALCS) (ERR 25)

Background to ALCS

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society Limited (ALCS) is the UK collective management organisation for writers. Established in 1977 and wholly owned and governed by the writers it represents (of whom there are currently over 85,000) ALCS is a not-for-profit, non-union organisation. ALCS exists to ensure that writers receive a fair reward when their works are used in situations in which it would be impossible or impractical to offer licences on an individual basis.

Clause 56: Copyright Exceptions

1. Clause 56 (as introduced) establishes a general power for the Secretary of State to expand or reduce the acts permitted in relation to copyright works by means of secondary legislation.

2. The exceptions to copyright set out in Chapter III of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988) are numerous and varied, governing an enormously diverse range of activities in relation to an author’s work.

3. Exceptions provide the fulcrum in the balance between rights of access and rights of authors; as such their operation carries significant social, cultural and economic implications.

4. The Government is in the process of developing proposals for amending copyright exceptions based on the recommendations of the Hargreaves review. The review supported widening UK exceptions to the full extent permitted within the European legal framework.

5. Hargreaves stressed the importance of evidence-based policy-making and there are a number of areas in which the current evidence-base in support of expanded UK exceptions has been challenged or shown to be limited or incomplete.

6. ALCS understands that policy proposals regarding copyright exceptions will be published later this year. These proposals should take full account of the available evidence and reflect the parameters governing copyright exceptions established by the Berne Convention and EU Copyright Directive.

7. We understand from the IPO that Clause 56 of the Bill has not been introduced for the purposes of implementing ‘Hargreaves exceptions’. This is supported by the reference to the preservation of current criminal penalties for copyright infringement in the IPO Information Notice, which is relevant only in the context of limiting activities permitted by exceptions.

8. In the interests of greater clarity and certainty, Clause 56 of the Bill should therefore be amended to provide that the powers it confers on the Secretary of State apply solely in the context of restricting the operation of copyright exceptions.

July 2012

Prepared 4th July 2012