Intellectual Property | Campaigners To Exploit Changes To Copyright Designs & Patents Act

Animal rights campaign group Peta has announced its intentions to exploit changes to the UK’s strict copyright laws when amendments to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 are brought in later this year.

The proposed changes are as a result of recommendations made by Professor Ian Hargreaves in his independent 2011 report entitled ‘Digital opportunity: A review of Intellectual Property and Growth’ and Andrew Gowers in his 2006 report entitled ‘ The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property’. The changes involve, among other things, introducing new exceptions to the rules on copyright with the aim of overhauling restrictive and archaic UK copyright laws to allow businesses to be more competitive.

The proposed exception being relied on by Peta, is the exception to copyright for the purpose of caricature, parody and pastiche, which will be introduced later this year in the form of a “fair dealing” exception. Peta has put together a mock-up of Fortnum & Mason’s website and logo and intends to alter the retailer’s famous brand for the words “Force-Fed & Murdered” in a bid to shame the store for selling foie gras.

Peta has apparently received expert legal advice and been advised that a parody website in the same font style, arrangement and colour as that used for Fortnum & Mason is likely to be accepted as parody, when the law changes in October.

Current UK copyright law is very strict on parody, to the extent that the spoof song Newport State of Mind, which had been a huge hit on YouTube was not allowed to be shown in the UK, even though it had been played extensively in other parts of the world.

In the US where the law on parody is more lax, Peta has already conducted a number of campaigns parodying well-known brands, such as “KentuckyFriedCruelty” and “BloodyBurberry.com”. These campaigns were not allowed to be shown in the UK.

Peta has some high profile supporters and earlier this year singer Morrisey contributed £10,000 to their print advertising campaign using compensation he received from Channel 4 after the broadcaster used a track by The Smiths without permission.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London