[Fsfe-ie] copyright lawyerly questions?

James Heald j.heald at ucl.ac.uk
Tue Dec 9 00:37:06 CET 2003

Ian Clarke wrote:
> Justin Mason wrote:
>> Hash: SHA1
>> I've got in touch with an Irish copyright lawyer I know.  He says he'd be
>> happy to help out -- preferably on the order of answering questions etc.
>> If anyone has any questions/suggestions for him, let me know and I'll 
>> pass
>> 'em on...
> Perhaps this is a nobrainer - but is there a concept of fair use in 
> Irish copyright law?  This is relevant because there is no such concept 
> under British law, but there is (obviously) under US law.

Exceptions to copyright in UK law:

*  Extracts or derivations from the work which are not significant 
enough to qualify as a "substantial taking".   It is up to the court to 
decide what counts and what does not count as "substantial".

*  Private performances -- a performance, playing, or showing of 
copyright material must be public to require licence from the copyright 
owner.  But note that the making of transient copies eg from a CD into 
RAM is a different process, which may require the copyright owner's licence.

*  "Fair dealing"

Separated out in 1911 from the previous notion of "Fair Use", which 
encompassed both "insubstantial taking" and what became known as "fair 
dealing".  The three main exceptions are:
(a)  Research or private study
(b)  Reporting of current events
(c)  Criticism or review
There are various balances as to how much is fair, and what becomes 
unfair.  There may also be other "defences" -- eg publication in the 
public interest.

* There are also various other specific exceptions -- detailed at length 
in the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act (1988), though some will be 
withdrawn under the implementation of the EUCD.

This is what my law book says about the UK system:

"By relying almost wholly on specified statutory limitations, British 
law differs both from United States law, where the concept of "fair use" 
has a scope which is both general and central, and authors' rights 
systems, which tend to have a general defence of private use deriving 
from what are now human rights criteria.  In UK law, while neither 
"fair" nor "private" use forms a general ground of excusal in relation 
to the reproduction and related rights..." [goes on to talk about 
various points of statute]

Hope this helps.

As I rule I think we should do our best to Read The Friendly Manual 
first, or at least make our best effort to, before asking very general 

All best,


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