Draft regulations have been published in Britain that will finally end the anomaly where quotation, parody, caricature and pastiche are considered breaches of copyright. If approved by Parliament, they will come into force on June 1st, finally closing the loophole in copyright law that allowed copyright owners to chill criticism and stifle research in cases that are otherwise reasonable.
Using the "fair dealing" concept, The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014 both limit the scope for these literary forms infringe copyright, and also invalidates contract terms that claim to forbid them. They say:
(1) Fair dealing with a work for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche does not infringe copyright in the work.
(2) To the extent that a term of a contract purports to prevent or restrict the doing of any act which, by virtue of this section, would not infringe copyright, that term is unenforceable.
Published at the same time, The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Research, Education, Libraries and Archives) Regulations 2014 make substantial changes to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to normalise use of copyrighted materials for academic purposes. While these changes deserve a more considered examination, they seem an equally welcome move. Both changes had been expected last year but were so delayed that digital rights activists had started to fear they had been forgotten.