UK High Court quashes UK private copying exception

On 17 July 2015, the UK High Court – following the judicial review of the (controversial) introduction of the private copying exception into English law in October 2014 – decided that this new exception should be revoked entirely.

As reported earlier (see: IFRRO website), in an initial decision on 19 June 2015, the UK High Court already ruled that the exception had been introduced unlawfully. The Court had then left open questions as to whether the exception should be quashed, and whether a reference to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) was required. Now, the Court decided not to make a reference to the CJEU, mainly because it might prove to be unnecessary, but decided to quash the private copying exception.

The decision of 17 July 2015 means that, with immediate effect, the UK is returned to the position before October 2014: copies of copyright works made for personal use will be infringements (unless otherwise licensed). It is questionable whether the UK government will now seek to reintroduce the exception, with a compensation mechanism.

Notably, the Court’s decision has prospective effect only (ex nunc); copies made under the exception to date have not (so far) been ruled to be infringements. However, it remains to be seen whether rightholders will seek compensation from the UK government for copies made under the exception to date.

The complete decision of the UK High Court is available here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2015/2041.html.