UK copyright law extended to ‘life of the creator plus 70 years’

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Changes as part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, announced today by the Government, will in practice means that owners of any copyrights in classic designs will be able to use copyright law to prevent the sale of unauthorised copies of such designs.

The repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which currently restricts copyright to 25 years on artistic works that are exploited through an industrial process, means that designs that qualify for copyright protection is to be enforceable to a term of ‘life of the creator plus 70 years’.

Legendary British design figure Sir Terence Conran has welcomed the changes, saying: “By protecting new designs more generously, we are encouraging more investment of time and talent in British design. That will lead to more manufacturing in Britain, and that in turn will lead to more jobs – which we desperately need right now.

“Properly protected design can help make the UK a profitable workshop again. We have the creative talent – let’s use it.”
Spending on UK design output amounts to almost £33.5 billion, or 2.4 per cent of GDP, and there are estimated to be 350,000 people in core design occupations in the UK.

Mat Hunter, chief design officer at the Design Council, said: “This is good news for UK design. First, it will help protect more classic UK designs from illegal copying, which costs the UK design sector dearly in lost revenue every year. Second, it will encourage more investment in a truly artistic, design-led approach to manufacturing, as these will enjoy more protection than before.

“New technologies have made it easier than ever to copy and reproduce the finest details of original designs and doing so has become big business. In addition, we welcome the work the Intellectual Property Office is leading this year into the protection of design more generally.”

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