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Private Copying Exception FAQ

Why the MU challenged the private copying exception and what next?

Published: 20 July 2015 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:28 PM


The UK Government changed the law in 2014 by introducing a private copying exception. These regulations enable people to copy copyright material they have lawfully acquired for their own private and personal use, for example copying a CD you own and putting it on your iPhone.

BASCA, the Musicians’ Union and UK Music applied for Judicial Review in November 2014. The High Court announced on 19 June 2015 that the Government had acted unlawfully and quashed the regulations. 

Does the MU want a private copying exception?

Yes, we believe that consumers should be allowed to copy copyrighted material that they have lawfully acquired for their own personal use. The law needs to reflect this.

If that is so, why did we take the Government to court to quash the exception?

The exception that was brought in by the Government did not follow EU law, in that it did not provide for compensation for performers and musicians. We therefore challenged it and it has since been quashed.

Why should compensation be provided?

Fair compensation accompanying a private copying exception is a requirement of European law.

By not providing compensation, the UK Government is undermining UK musicians and denying them an income stream that performers in the rest of Europe do very well out of.

Who should provide the compensation?

We don’t believe that compensation should be provided by consumers.

We think that the manufacturers who have made a lot of money out of devices that rely on music being copied on to them should be passing on some of this money to performers.

Will compensation increase the price of electronic devices and negatively impact consumers?

There seems to be no relationship between retail prices and the level of compensation musicians receive. For example, the cost of a 2GB iPod shuffle in the UK is the same as in Germany, Belgium and Portugal where a private copying exception is accompanied by a requirement for fair compensation. The market price of an electronic device is ultimately set by retailers.

What does the MU think should happen next?

The MU has said from the word go that we welcome the idea of a private copying exception, but that any such exception would have to include fair compensation for performers.

The court has agreed with us that the Government didn’t produce adequate evidence to prove that compensation had already been factored in.

Now we’re looking forward to working with UK Music and with the Government to look at this issue again and introduce an exception that will be fair to performers and consumers alike.

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