Following the repeal of section 52 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act (‘CPDA’) 1988, a measure passed by Parliament under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, the UK’s arts and museums sectors are likely to be hit with an increase in promotional costs and a fall in income.
Section 52 CPDA currently restricts design rights on mass-produced items to 25 years after the year in which they were first created or marketed, meaning that designers get a commercial monopoly for that duration.
However, the Government’s change to the rule will now bring it in line with copyright under CDPA, meaning that design rights will be extended from 25 years to 70 years after the death of the designer or artist.
The change in the law will affect those that reproduce images of artistic works, as well as image agencies, and those affected will have to check the copyright status of certain works that might require permission for reproduction.
The Government has announced that the changes will come into force on 6th April 2020, giving businesses and institutions a five year transitional period in which to prepare.
Any business or individual that ignores the rule change from the aforementioned date will face criminal offence charges (instead of facing civil offence charges, as is currently the case).
Anyone that relies on image reproduction or distribution will have to ensure that they are correctly following the new rules, as the rights on some works that have expired under the current rule will be activated once again.
The rule change is likely to increase the amount of money that businesses and artistic institutions – like museums – pay for the images they use in promotional materials and merchandise.
There are clauses to the rule change which means that those who use image copies for quotation purposes, criticism, or review will not be subjected to legal action, and neither will those who incidentally include a copyrighted work in another artistic work.
However, many firms and individuals have already sought legal advice to ensure that they will be acting in line with the rule change to avoid facing legal action due to commercial exploitation accusations.
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