UK Copyright law is about to provide a considerable boost for designers of mass produced artistic works.
On 28 July 2016, Section 52 of the UK's Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 ('CDPA') will be repealed. Currently, under Section 52, the term of copyright protection for artistic works that have been industrially manufactured (i.e. more than 50 copies produced) is 25 years from the year they were first marketed. Typical works that could be captured by this Section are pieces of trendy furniture, lampshades, fabric designs and graphic works such as photographs and paintings. This 25-year term of protection will be repealed and after 28 July 2016, such 'mass produced' works will enjoy the same term of protection as all other artistic works, namely the life of the creator plus 70 years after their death.
The repeal of Section 52 has been firmly on the UK government's agenda since 2011 and we were expecting it to come into force in April 2020 after the government opted for a lengthy transitional period. However, after a further consultation, the five-year transitional period has been dropped and the repeal will now take place at the end of July, with a much shorter six-month transitional period ending on 28 January 2017.
1. After 28 July 2016, it will be unlawful to make or import new replicas of industrially manufactured artistic works unless:
a. The works were contracted before 4.30pm on 28 October 2015;
b. The copyright holder grants permission;
c. An exception applies under the CDPA (which is unlikely as these do not normally apply under normal commercial circumstances).
2. Up to 28 January 2017 it will be lawful to sell through existing stock of replicas of industrially manufactured artistic works.
3. After 28 January 2017, it will be unlawful to deal in replicas of industrially manufactured artistic works. By this date, all stock must be depleted or destroyed, unless:
a.The copyright holder grants permission;
b. An exception applies under the CDPA (which is unlikely: see above).
Merely possessing a replica after 28 January 2017 will not in itself be unlawful, although possession may become unlawful if done so in the course of business.
For replica dealers and others
Since this is a change of UK copyright law, which has not been completely harmonised in Europe, designers will be pleased to know that the change is not subject to Brexit terms.
To find out more about how this change may affect you and your business strategy, please contact Richard May.