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MU chief welcomes High Court’s private copy right ruling

By | Published on Monday 22 June 2015

Musicians' Union

The General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, John Smith, has welcomed the High Court ruling last week which declared that the British government’s decision to introduce a private copy exception into UK copyright law without compensation for the music community was unlawful.

As previously reported, the court ordered that the government review its policy on the private copy right after the MU, BASCA and UK Music successfully argued that ministers had not sufficiently justified why the new copyright exception that allows consumers to legally rip tracks from their CDs was not accompanied by a levy system to benefit the music industry. Such a levy system exists in other European countries and EU law seeks to harmonise copyright systems across the European Union.

Smith told reporters: “I am delighted that the High Court has today agreed with us that government acted unlawfully. The MU has been leading calls for fair compensation to accompany any private copying exception for years now, and today marks a significant step in the right direction”.

He went on: “It’s a sobering thought that despite the fact that the British music industry is worth £3.8bn GVA, and despite the outstanding international reputation for British musicians, more than half of MU members still earn less than £20,000 a year from their profession. We have one of the best music industries in the world. The government should be making it easier to survive as a musician – not harder”.

He concluded: “The private copying exception that they had introduced without fair compensation put UK performers at a significant disadvantage, and I’m proud that the MU was part of the team that successfully challenged it”.

For its part, the government’s Department For Business, Innovation & Skills said in a statement on Friday: “The government is disappointed by the ruling on the private copying exception, but respects the opinion of the court. We are considering the implications of the ruling and the available options”.

MusicTank will put the spotlight on the private copy exception, and how levies might be charged in the digital age, this Thursday, info here.