The Gowers Report contains some recommended measures regarding enforcement of copyright that should cause concern, but it also has some wonderful new proposals for “Flexibility” in copyright that I personally think are very good news for artists.
The Executive Summary on page 11 lists:
Recommendation 8: A private copying exception for format shifting.
This means that people won’t be put off buying your work because they aren’t allowed to rip it to their media players. Currently it is illegal to rip music to an iPod in the UK.
Recommendation 9: A private copying exception for research.**
This is good for people undertaking research outside of an academic context. Copying for research in a commercial context was recently removed from Fair Dealing, making mood boards illegal unless you tear up your books.
Recommendation 11: An exception for transformative works.**
This sounds like Transformative Fair Use: “transformative or derivative works, within the parameters of the Berne Three Step Test.” This is the measure I would most like to see adopted. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_three-step_test for the Three Step Test.
Recommendation 12: An exception for caricature, parody or pastiche.
We don’t currently have a parody right in the UK, unlike the US, although many people who have got their understanding of copyright law from US web sites and books assume that we do. Parody, pastiche and transformative use together cover much of Fair Use for artists.
Recommendation 13: A provision for orphan works.
Or at least proposing one to the European Commission. So if you don’t set up your estate to handle your work properly after your death it won’t be lost, and if you wish to capitalize on work whose rightsholder has disappeared you don’t run the risk of suddenly getting sued.
We need to start lobbying the government now to make sure that these measures are made law.