Reply from Melanie Johnson MP to my second letter to Anne Campbell MP

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This is the reply I received, on 19th July 2002, from Melanie Johnson MP. See my EUCD page for more information on this, or read the letter to which this is a reply. Please note that any textual errors in this page are almost certainly transcription errors on my part.

Melanie Johnson MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Competition, Consumers and Markets

14 July 2002.

Dear Anne,

Mr. Chris Lightfoot, [my address]

Thank you for your letter of 28 June covering further correspondence from your constituent about the EU Directive on copyright and related rights in the information society (2001/29/EC).

I am pleased that Mr. Lightfoot found the information in my letter of 16 May useful. I can fully understand his continuing concerns about the potential impact of Article 6 of the copyright Directive, but would emphasise the importance that the Government attaches to what are effectively safeguards for many beneficiaries of exceptions contained in paragraph 4 of that article. I cannot go into any greater detail on this matter at the present time, as we are currently finalising the consultation paper on how we propose to implement the Directive as a whole. However, as I believe the consultation paper will answer many of Mr. Lightfoot's specific questions by showing how existing UK law will be amended, I have arranged for him to receive a copy of this paper as soon as it is published. There will then be every opportunity for Mr. Lightfoot to have any remaining concerns considered by officials in the Patent Office.

Any amendments that are now made to UK copyright law must not, of course, conflict with the requirements of the copyright Directive. The Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Bill is no exception to the rule and has been drafted with the Directive in mind. The Bill does not deal with the issue of how this particular group of users are to benefit from the new exceptions where technological protection measures have been applied to copyright works. This matter will be dealt with generally by way of implementation of Article 6.4 of the Directive.

The review process to which I referred in my earlier letter is set out in Article 12 of the Directive. It is quite common to find such a provision in Directives where those involved in negotiations are aware that the full picture has yet top emerge and amendments to harmonised rules may be needed. This is obviously the case with the copyright Directive and especially Article 6, where both the technology itself and its application to copyright material are developing rapidly. Article 12 charges the European Commission to produce a report on the application of the copyright Directive by December 2004. This report will be made to the UK and other EU countries and to the European Parliament. It must pay particular attention to the interplay between technological protection measures and exceptions to rights and I understand that Commission officials are already engaged in a preliminary analysis.

I hope the Mr. Lightfoot will find that our approach to implementation of the Directive will meet many of his outstanding concerns.

Best wishes.


Melanie Johnson.

Copyright (c) 2002 Chris Lightfoot. All rights reserved.