| 09 Jun 2023
UK music industry wins High Court copyright case against UK Government

MUMBAI: The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), the Musicians’ Union (MU) and UK Music had recently challenged the UK Government’s decision to introduce a private copying exception into the UK copyright law. They argued that it was unlawful because it failed to provide fair compensation to the music rightholders. On 19 June, the British High Court ruled against the UK Government in a Judicial Review case that was brought by BASCA, MU and UK Music.

A change in UK law was planned to be implemented, which would enable consumers to copy legally-acquired music for personal and private use. However, before the introduction of this private copying exception, BASCA, MU and UK Music alerted the Government to the fact that, in such circumstances, significant harm is caused to rightholders, and European law requires fair compensation to be paid. The High Court agreed with the industry bodies and found that Government’s decision to not provide fair compensation was based on wholly inadequate evidence, and that the Government’s decision was therefore, unlawful.

The High Court’s ruling means that the Government will now have to reconsider its position, as was stated in a release issued by PRS for Music. It also stated that BASCA, MU and UK Music remain open to meaningful talks to resolve this issue.

Speaking on the outcome of the case, UK Music CEO Jo Dipple said, “The High Court agreed with us that Government acted unlawfully. It is vitally important that fairness for songwriters, composers and performers is written into the law. My members’ music defines this country. It is only right that Government gives us the standard of legislation our music deserves. We want to work with Government so this can be achieved.” He further added, “The British music industry is worth £3.8bn GVA and generates £3.1bn in tourist spend. Changes to copyright law that affect such a vital part of the creative economy, which supports one in twelve jobs, must only be introduced if there is a robust evidential basis for doing so.”

Measures to change the law to enable people to copy copyright material they have lawfully acquired for their own private and personal use were introduced by the UK Government in October 2014, under the ‘Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014’.