Copyright changes could boost research

3 January 2013

The government has announced proposed revisions to copyright law that it hopes will help stimulate innovation, competition, research and education.

The changes include provision for non-commercial researchers to analyse previously published research results without interference from copyright law. Under current legislation, such analysis counts as generating copies of the work and theoretically requires permission from every single copyright holder involved.

Other proposed changes include modernisation and simplification of educational exceptions, so that minor acts of copying for teaching purposes - such as copying an extract of text onto an interactive whiteboard - will be permitted without a licence.

Quotation and minor use of copyrighted works for reporting purposes on internet blogs or in tweets will be allowed as long as they are fair, and sound recordings, films and broadcasts will be able to be copied for non-commercial research and private study purposes without permission from the copyright holder. Public bodies will also have greater freedom to share third party information online.

Head of Digital Services at the Wellcome Trust, Robert Kiley, welcomed the changes saying "In particular, we are delighted to see that an exception will be created which will allow researchers, and others, to use text and data-mining technologies on content to which they already have lawful access. This will enable researchers to find connections and develop novel insights from the wealth of information contained in published scientific literature, which will in turn accelerate discovery and innovation to the benefit of human health and the UK economy”.

New draft legislation will be published for technical review later this year and should come into force in October.