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ISM joins Judicial Review over Government's handling of private copying exception

The ISM was in the High Court this week.

We are part of a very important case which has been brought against the Government on behalf of musicians over the Government’s refusal to compensate musicians when they introduced a private copying exception into UK copyright law.


The Government introduced an exception for private copying on 1st October 2014.

This means that people can lawfully format shift (for example by copying music files from a CD onto a computer or MP3 player) provided the copy is for their own personal use. The Regulations also mean that music can be uploaded to a personal cloud storage service without the need for an licence. This may seem like a common sense exception, but in the rest of Europe, when a ‘private copying exception’ has been introduced, creators and other right holder are also guaranteed 'fair remuneration' for the loss of their rights.

So to the court hearing

That is why, on Monday and Tuesday of this week, I went to the High Court to fight for performers and composers alongside representatives from the music industry. The music industry was arguing that European law requires that 'fair remuneration' be paid to right holder when a private copying exception is created (Article 5 (2) (b) of the Copyright Directive).

However, the ISM’s lawyers and Head of Legal, David Abrahams, were able to add a new argument to the case: we believe that by enacting these regulations (to allow private copying) the Government has given a substantial economic advantage to tech firms. The tech firms have not been required to pay anything for this economic advantage. It is, in effect, a free gift. We believe this counts as ‘state-aid’ under EU competition law and is therefore unlawful, because the Government failed to seek the European Commission's approval before bringing in the Regulations.

We believe that it was wrong for the Government to give the tech firms this substantial economic boost while at the same time denying musicians any compensation at all for their lost rights. That is why we intervened in this Judicial Review in the High Court. The hearing ended this week and the Court is expected to give its judgment towards the end of this month. All those who care about musicians' rights will be eagerly awaiting the Court’s decision.