The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
Gustave Flaubert

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Revived copyright

When the term of copyright protection in the UK (and many other countries of the then European Community) was increased in 1995, copyright had already expired on existing works where some of the new, longer term still remained. The works of people who died between 1925 and 1945 were affected: James Joyce, Thomas Hardy, Kenneth Grahame, Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, the list was long and very distinguished. Copyright was revived where a work was protected in another EEA state under that state's legislation relating to copyright and related rights. As Germany in particular had a longer copyright term than that in the UK for many works, this led to a number of works being brought back into copyright in the UK.

Where copyright was revived, transitional provisions and savings protected those who were exploiting or who wanted to exploit such a copyright work in the future. By the end of 2015, they will have run their course. These are:
  • Doing anything in pursuance of arrangements made before 1 January 1995 does not infringe revived copyright;
  • Issuing copies to the public made before 1 July 1995, which were made when copyright did not subsist, does not infringe revived copyright;
  • Anyone can use a work in which copyright has been revived as of right, subject only to payment of a reasonable royalty to the copyright owner (which can be determined by the Copyright Tribunal where there is no agreement); and
  • Doing something that would infringe copyright at a time where it is not possible by reasonable inquiry to ascertain the name and address of the copyright owner does not infringe revived copyright. 
In Sweeney and Anor v. MacMillan Publishers Ltd and Anor [2001] EWHC Ch 460 (22nd November, 2001) the estate of James Joyce, who died in 1941, took action over a new ('reader's', as if it could have been for anyone else) edition of Ulysses. For some reason, the author and publisher had not availed themselves of the licensing of right provisions, and consequently were infringing.

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