UK’s new private copying exception found to be unlawful by UK High Court

In October 2014, the UK government introduced a series of changes to the UK’s copyright regime. This included a private copying exception, allowing individuals who have acquired permanent and legal copies of copyrighted works to make personal copies of that material, without also introducing a mechanism to compensate rightholders for that activity. However, this new private copying regime was not supported by sufficient evidence, the UK High Court held in a decision published on 19 June 2015.

The introduction of the private copying exception has been controversial. In 2014, a UK parliamentary committee warned that the UK may be found in breach of EU copyright rules if it did not include a mechanism for compensating rightholders fairly alongside its new private copying exception. Following the UK High Court’s decision, for the exception to survive, the UK government will either have to introduce a compensation scheme, or produce evidence which supports its conclusion that private copying will cause no more than de minimis harm to rightholders.

The complete decision of the UK High Court is available here.