Union successfully challenges government over private copying of music

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Entertainment,

Supreme CourtThe Musicians’ Union has won a High Court case against the government over the private copying of music.

The MU, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and UK Music challenged the government’s decision to introduce a private copying exception into UK copyright law, arguing that it was unlawful because it failed to provide fair compensation to rightholders.

The three organisations had welcomed a change to UK law which enabled consumers to copy their legally-acquired music for personal and private use, but ahead of the introduction of the private copying exception, they warned significant harm is caused to rightholders and European law requires fair compensation to be paid.

The High Court agreed with the music industry and found that government’s decision not to provide fair compensation was based on wholly inadequate evidence – and that government’s decision was therefore unlawful.

The High Court’s ruling means that government will now have to reconsider its position.  BASCA, MU and UK Music remain open to meaningful talks to resolve this issue.

MY general secretary John Smith said: “I am delighted that The High Court has 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.

“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. 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.”


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
Author avatar

Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

Read All Articles