With this we may discuss the following: New clause 1—Accessible copies of copyright work for visually impaired persons.
New clause 2—Multiple copies for visually impaired persons.
New clause 3—Intermediate copies and records.
New clause 4—Licensing schemes.
New clause 5—Limitations, etc. following infringement of copyright.
New clause 6—Interpretation of sections 31A to 31E.
New clause 7—Consequential amendments.
I am delighted that you are chairing the Committee, Mr. Cook. I have had previous experience of your skills in the House and in the international setting, and as a novice at promoting Bills and tabling amendments, I could ask for no better guide.
I should also say at the outset how much I appreciate the cross-party support that I have received, and I thank hon. Members for being present. I offer special thanks to the Minister.
Let me explain why I shall invite the Committee to agree that clause 1 should not stand part of the Bill and why I have tabled seven new clauses, when the two exceptions to copyright that they deliver for the benefit of visually impaired people are very close to those in clause 1.
The purpose of clause 1 is clear, but unfortunately I have become aware that it lacks clarity in some places and is technically at fault in others. I hope that the new clauses will remedy those problems and make one or two useful changes to provide further safeguards for copyright owners. I am grateful for the assistance of my hon. Friend the Minister in drafting provisions that will deliver the intended benefits for visually impaired people.
In devising exceptions to copyright, it is always necessary, but often difficult, to strike the right balance between the interests of users of copyright material and those of copyright owners. I hope that hon. Members will agree that the new clauses provide the appropriate and fair balance.
The two new exceptions to copyright proposed in the Bill are intended to deal with problems that visually impaired people encounter when they cannot
read copyright material. Once amended, the Bill will provide a useful solution to those problems, without unreasonably encroaching on copyright owners' rights.
For the benefit of hon. Members, I shall quickly run through the effects of the new clauses. New clause 1 introduces the one-for-one exception into the copyright law found in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. It will not allow anyone to make large numbers of accessible copies of copyright material for visually impaired people. Under the proposed exception, a visually impaired person can have an accessible copy made for personal use only when they have a master copy lawfully in their possession or are lawfully able to use one in, for example, a reference library. A master copy generally requires copyright royalties to go to the copyright owners, who will therefore not be deprived of royalties when a visually impaired person takes advantage of the exception. Indeed, proposed new section 31A(6) provides that if a visually impaired person keeps the accessible copy when he no longer has lawful possession or lawful use of the master copy, the accessible copy becomes an infringing copy of the work.
Another important condition in new clause 1 is that an accessible copy cannot be made for a particular visually impaired person if a version of the work that is accessible to him is already commercially available. We need to encourage copyright owners to make copies of their copyright material available in forms that are accessible to everyone. That would not happen if the exception allowed people to make copies if a perfectly satisfactory one is already commercially available.
In response to a request from right holders, I have accepted that any accessible copies made under this exception should be accompanied by an indication that they are so made. That may at first glance seem unnecessary, but this exception allows accessible copies to be transferred to others in some circumstances, so it is important that everyone knows the origin of the accessible copy and is aware that they are not free to do exactly what they want with it.
The transfer of accessible copies to others is important, because it can be expensive to make an accessible copy, and if there are other visually impaired people who could use it when the initial person no longer needs it, that is a bonus. The exception allows the transfer of the accessible copy to another visually impaired person who would themselves have satisfied all the conditions for making an accessible copy, or to an intermediary such as a school or a library, which can pass on the accessible copy only to such another visually impaired person.
The conditions mean that all those people must have the or a master copy, too, so that there is never an accessible copy where there is not also a legal master copy. As I am sure hon. Members will appreciate, drafting the Bill in order to deliver what I have outlined has been complex. I hope that new clause 1 is clearer. There should be only one accessible
copy if there is a master copy, too, and it should be for use only by visually impaired people who cannot access any copies that already exist as easily as they could if they were not visually impaired.
New clause 2 allows multiple copies of a master copy to be made by either an educational establishment or a not-for-profit body. However, as with the first exception, there are a number of conditions and limitations. To take advantage of this multiple copy exception, the educational establishment or not-for-profit body must have lawful possession of a master copy of the copyright material. The body can legally make and supply accessible copies to visually impaired people under this exception only so long as it continues to satisfy this condition and remains an educational establishment or not-for-profit body.
Moreover, the master copy must have been commercially published, so although the exception allows the body to make a number of accessible copies of the same material, it does not allow this to happen in competition with copyright owners or others authorised by them to produce certain types of accessible copy such as those using commercial large print.
I do not want to dwell entirely on the limitations of the legislation, because important as they are, the positive side to new clause 2 is that it will give schools and bodies such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind real opportunities for supplying accessible copies of much-needed copyright material to people who currently may not get it. For example, there is not likely to be much commercial activity in the area of braille transcription to fill the need for that service. This exception removes the long delays that can currently occur in obtaining copyright clearances.
As long as the carefully devised but fair conditions are met, the RNIB will no longer find copyright clearances a bar to its valuable transcription services into various alternative formats that meet the real needs of visually impaired people. All hon. Members would wish me to pay tribute to the work of the RNIB.
I strongly support the Bill, as my hon. Friend knows, but authors' and publishers' associations are concerned about protecting their members' interests.
One concern relates to what is an approved body and on what basis it is held to be so. The associations are worried about the definition, and think that a body should qualify only if it has as its main object or one of its main objects the provision of accessible copies or other services for visually impaired persons. Is my hon. Friend happy that the wording of the new clause responds to those concerns?
I thank my hon. Friend for raising that important point. I appreciate the concerns raised by the Publishers Licensing Society and others, but it would be difficult to define precisely a not-for-profit body. If we chose a definition that specified that the main concern and purpose of the body was the production of such material, it would disadvantage many local community groups such as local churches, the local Women's Institute and others. Those organisations are clearly not-for-profit bodies, and
may have a definite interest in the matter, but would not meet the definition sought by the PLS.
Given the technical safeguards built in to the new clauses in response to concerns expressed by the Publishers Licensing Society, I cannot believe that any genuine not-for-profit body would seek to meet all the requirements in the Bill without having as its prime interest the genuine accessibility of reading material to people with visual impairment. However, if today's proceedings are successful, we may go on to discuss that and other concerns with people who have a clear and rightful interest.
I draw some comfort from the hon. Lady's remarks and wish the Bill every success. I have no personal axe to grind but, like the hon. Member for Eccles (Ian Stewart), I am aware that some with professional interests outside the House wish the Bill well but want to ensure that the copyright technicalities are all carefully handled. This is only the beginning of our deliberations—there will be a Report stage and the Bill will go to another place in due course. I urge the hon. Lady, with all the support I can offer, to ensure that her professional advisers, and she herself, work alongside those with a professional interest and those who wish her Bill well and who want the copyright matters to be dealt with thoroughly, carefully and tightly.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support and for his excellent remarks. I hope that, during the passage of the Bill, we continue to work in close co-operation and partnership on a cross-party basis and with all the voluntary bodies and professional organisations that have such a clear interest in the Bill. I hope that thereby we may reach a fair balance between our desire to give more equal opportunities to people with visual impairment to gain access to reading material and the need to safeguard the rights and interests of publishers, authors and others involved in such business.
I must speed on and say a little more about the other new clauses to explain why I believe that clause 1 should not stand part of the Bill.
New clause 3 would introduce a new section into the 1988 Act about intermediate copies and records in connection with multiple accessible copies that can be made under the new exception introduced by new clause 2. That would mean that an intermediate copy that was necessarily created during the production of accessible copies could be used, but only to produce further accessible copies in future. An intermediate copy that includes the right codes to facilitate the making of a braille copy may be expensive to produce, so the provision introduces a valuable way of saving money. Moreover, intermediate copies may be transferred to other bodies entitled to make accessible copies under the exception. However, there are conditions and safeguards, so this is far from being a free-for-all exchange of intermediate copies and must
be carefully handled, if bodies want to avoid infringing copyright.
Importantly, the clause also requires bodies acting under the second exception to keep careful records of what they have done with accessible copies and intermediate copies, and requires them to allow copyright owners reasonable access to inspect them. That addition to the Bill was requested by copyright owners. Bodies acting under the second exception must notify copyright owners of accessible copies made and intermediate copies transferred. Once again, the new clause provides valuable permissions for bodies wishing to help visually impaired people, while at the same time clearly defining the limits and necessary safeguards.
I have already mentioned that it would not be right for accessible copies to be made under the new exceptions where that would compete with commercially available accessible copies. It is also unfair to prevent copyright owners from licensing the production of multiple accessible copies and seeking a royalty for the use of their property. New clause 4 introduces a new section into the 1988 Act that would provide for the second exception to be overridden where a licensing scheme allows the making of particular accessible copies. However, there is no override for the first new exception to copyright—the one-for-one exception—only for the second exception, which allows multiple accessible copies. Moreover, there should be no delay in obtaining licences because they must be offered under a licensing scheme that has already been set up. A licensing scheme cannot generally prohibit anything that would have been possible under the second copyright exception. That formulation should be fair to all.
New clause 5 introduces a new section into copyright law allowing the Secretary of State to limit the scope of the second new exception to copyright, although it can have no effect on the first new exception, and I very much hope that it will never have to be used. If bodies that make accessible copies for visually impaired people behave responsibly and pay attention to what they are and are not allowed to do, the Secretary of State will have no cause to take any action. However, the new section will serve as a reminder of the need to continue to behave responsibly and of the possibility that something could be done to limit future copyright-infringing activity. It should considerably reassure copyright holders.
The Secretary of State's powers have been carefully drafted in response to some of the concerns that were raised on Second Reading. I hope that the Committee agrees that new clause 5 addresses some of those concerns. It provides that those representing affected interests should be consulted before the Secretary of State makes an order.
New clause 6 inserts a definitions clause into the 1988 Act. That is important for all who have a genuine interest. As well as helping people who are blind or partially sighted, I am pleased that the Bill will help those with physical disabilities that prevent them from holding books or from moving or focusing their eyes
normally. Another important definition is of ''accessible copy''. It is made clear that such copies must not include changes that were not necessary to overcome problems caused by visual impairment. Moreover, it is not possible to make an accessible copy that infringes the author's right that the copyright work should not be subjected to derogatory treatment. Those definitions apply to both new exceptions to copyright, and, together with the other provisions that I have mentioned, they will provide a carefully balanced Bill that will give tremendous assistance to visually impaired people, while being fair to copyright owners.
New clause 7 merely makes consequential amendments to the 1988 Act.
I hope that all hon. Members will be reassured that what I propose will give visually impaired people greater and equal access to reading material—and no less so than the original Bill—but that the new clauses take on board some of the concerns that have been expressed. I hope that what I propose will ensure a fair balance between our desire to give equality of access to reading material to visually impaired people and the need to strengthen and build in safeguards to protect the rights of copyright owners. I hope that the Committee will agree that clause 1 should not stand part of the Bill.
First, I echo the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Rachel Squire) in welcoming you to the Chair, Mr. Cook. It is not the first time that I have worked under your chairmanship and, apart from occasions when a Committee sat late at night or into the early hours, I have always enjoyed it. I congratulate the hon. Lady on the way in which she introduced her new clauses. In effect, they rewrite the Bill, but in entirely the right spirit. I hope that that spirit will continue. It is not my intention, either formally from the Opposition Front Bench or personally, to alter the tone of the Committee.
The Bill is a thoroughly constructed measure that is designed to deal with the practical difficulties that beset visually impaired people and the totally blind because of the difficulty of obtaining consent for making copies. It provides a smoother procedure. Although it was always possible to obtain such consent by voluntary agreement, the Bill is necessary because in certain cases and for various reasons—for example, reasons of personality, or of administrative efficiency or otherwise—it was not always delivered in a sensible time scale. That is the ill to which the Bill is directed, and we certainly have no wish to rubbish it.
I have consulted representatives of rights holders. I looked them straight in the eye and suggested that they, too, would not wish to scupper the Bill or to create artificial difficulties. I hope that we can proceed briskly, even with the entirely proper reservation voiced by the hon. Member for Eccles and the more generic comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor) ringing in our ears. We want to get it right.
The Bill's promoter and the Minister—whom I am pleased to see and who has, no doubt, been giving
appropriate assistance—have got us a great deal further forward. We welcome the proposed deletion of clause 1 and the proposal to insert new clauses that rephrase the concepts of the Bill. I shall not seek to divide the Committee on the motion.
I have one further general point. Committee members will be aware that, on behalf of my party and personally, I do a lot of work with several organisations that work in the disability field. We are all grateful to the RNIB for its support in both identifying the need for the Bill and trying to address rights holders' difficulties. The Bill is not contentious, so it is incumbent on the Committee to ensure that any wrinkles that remain are considered and ironed out. My remarks are made solely in that spirit, and it is important that wherever possible we act in a transparent fashion and by agreement. I do not anticipate any difficulty between the RNIB, rights holders' organisations, and individual rights holders. Everybody understands that there is a need.
An argument has been put to me—it cannot be tied down in a complex clause such as the ones we are considering, but it is important—about what we might describe as code of practice or good practice territory. It relates to the need to respect wherever possible an author's wishes regarding not only the words, but the layout of the work—the way in which it is expressed. That is particularly relevant to poetry, which is the one area of literature in which I have dabbled. I shall not upset the Committee by sharing any of my poems—
I shall not yield to that temptation, but I shall quote an exquisite four-word poem by Ezra Pound. I do not quote it for any elaborate literary reason; it is simply short enough to stick in my mind. Pound wrote it as an example of a Greek fragment interpreted in the 20th century by a modern poet. It goes ''Spring. . . Too long . . . Gongula''. Gongula is a proper name. Pound obviously put a lot of thought into it, and he wanted it the way it is. I realise, as does the RNIB and everybody else, that it is difficult to reproduce in practice.
My general point, which I make in a friendly way, is that wherever possible it is best that the rights holders or their organisations—representing authors, for example—and those who are using the property entirely legitimately get together to arrive at a sensible understanding. Whatever the law states, as the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West has properly acknowledged, keeping good records and making them available to rights holders and so on enables the spirit of the law as well as its substance to be complied with. That conforms with the spirit of the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Solihull.
I have four comments to make about matters that need to be tidied up between now and the end of parliamentary consideration of the Bill. The first, which has been touched on by the hon. Member for Eccles, relates to the definition of approved bodies. New clause 2 would insert a new section 31B into the 1988 Act. Subsection (12) contains a definition of an approved body as an
''educational establishment or a body that is not conducted for profit.''
The hon. Member for Dunfermline, West has already said that it would be difficult to tie down further what a body ''not conducted for profit'' might be. Rights holders are concerned because they are accustomed to dealing with the RNIB or the major disability charities. That is straightforward and entirely uncontentious. However, when a smaller body that may not have the administrative or legal back-up becomes involved, the protection may be attenuated.
Conceptually, the drafting is rather strange, with an approved body classed as
''an educational establishment or a body not conducted for profit''.
There is no reference to the basis on which any approval is given, so the lawyers would call the drafting a term of art. If it is not already apparent to the Committee, I declare that I am not a lawyer or an expert in copyright.
I shall reflect on that observation. I have never seen my hon. Friend disadvantaged by his legal qualifications, which add something to his contributions.
We all know that the subject is arcane and technical, but there appears to be no way in which an approved body can be dis-approved. No one can say that a body is no longer suitable because it is abusing normal practice, for example. As the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West reminded the Committee, new clause 5 contains a sanctions procedure. A copy that has been taken improperly will be illegal and not properly licensed. The concern mentioned by copyright holders is that there is no way to cut off at source consistent misconduct by an approved body. It cannot be dis-approved, although it could be penalised for any infringement that it committed. Will the hon. Lady reflect on that?
New section 31B(7) of the 1998 Act, which is proposed in new clause 2, also refers to an approved body—it is on that basis that the new clause has been tabled. It states that
''An approved body . . . must, if it is an educational establishment, ensure that the copies will be used only for its educational purposes'',
but is silent on whether the other type of approved bodies must tie copies to educational purposes. The other type of body probably has a wider remit, but I shall deal primarily with educational purposes. Publishers and others feel that the term is ''dangerously wide'', and state:
''This danger could be limited if copying could only be done 'for the personal use of visually impaired persons''',
rather than for wider ''educational purposes''. They add that the term should apply to all approved bodies, as I suggested a moment ago. Their point, which is at least worth considering, is whether it would be possible to impart an additional safeguard to prevent copying
taking place and the copies then being used on the pretext of being used for wider educational purposes, which would mean that copying would spread much wider than the limited remit of the Bill.
Let us pass to some technical points about information technology. Others on the Committee, including the hon. Member for Eccles, are more expert on the subject than I am, but it is clear to me that the purpose of encryption is to provide safeguards for the rights holder. We ought to base our approach to the making of intermediate copies on the principle that the safeguards should be unimpaired—they should remain at the same level, and should not be attenuated or diminished.
The rights holders are sufficiently concerned to suggest that the safeguards are ''dangerously weakened'' by the Bill. That concerns them because of the proviso that the protection under proposed new section 31B(8) may be extended to accessible copies
''so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so''.
They feel that in practice that provides no protection at all. I am not sure whether they are right about that, but I am sure that the point is reasonable and legitimate and should be considered. The question is whether those who make intermediate copies from an encrypted original should use all reasonable measures available to them to ensure that the degree of protection is not diminished. Again, it is not a matter of getting at the various responsible bodies who will seek to make intermediate copies and ultimately copies for use, but a matter of trying to deal with anybody who might be less careful about protecting rights holders.
A final and slightly more general point that continues to cause concern to rights holders relates to the licensing schemes in new clause 4. They feel that there is a degree of laxity—my phrase, not theirs—about the way in which those who copy do so, what constitutes a reasonably practical set of safeguards. Conversely, when it comes to the licensing scheme that a rights holder may wish to set out—we do not object in principle to licensing schemes, which are very welcome—they feel that the provisions are unworkably complex, particularly in relation to proposed new section 31D(1)(b), which refers to situations in which
''the scheme is not unreasonably restrictive''.
Of course we do not want it to be unreasonably restrictive. However, the rights holders take the view that any such questions can be dealt with by the copyright tribunal, which was created expressly for such purposes. They wonder whether the provisions are needed at all.
There is no intention on our part—although in respect of certain types of private Members' legislation, it has been intended in the past—to create a spider's web of difficulties into which the Bill will inevitably fall and disappear. The Bill is a good one, the intentions behind it are good, and excellent work has been done on it. I am sure that most people seeking to make use of it will do so for the
purposes for which it was intended and will act in a highly responsible manner. I am also confident, given the institutions involved, that there will be a desire to involve the authors and have an open and transparent exchange along the lines that I touched on in my opening remarks. That is not an issue.
I am grateful to the Bill's promoter and the Minister for the spadework that has gone into removing the difficulties. At an early stage of the Bill's consideration, we are very nearly there already. I have identified three or four remaining items of concern, but provided there is good will, it will not be beyond the wit of man and woman to iron those out, too. I hope that in receiving our support for the Bill and the new clauses, the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West will find time to reflect and take the necessary advice on them. The Minister and she can go back to the Publishers Licensing Society and others and talk the measures through. I hope that we will come back on Report with an entirely agreed measure. It is agreed in substance; we now need to ensure only that it is agreed in detail.
It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Cook, and to have the opportunity to contribute to this Committee. As I indicated on Second Reading, I wholly support the Bill. It is an extremely valuable measure and I congratulate the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West not only on having had the good fortune to have the opportunity to present the Bill, but for having done so with such skill and perseverance. I would also like to congratulate the Minister on having the good sense to recognise the value of the Bill. She has clearly arranged for work to be done within her Department to provide a workable piece of legislation, bringing forward proposals for amendment, which I am sure that the Committee welcomes as a valuable step in our considerations.
We must draft a Bill that achieves the clear objectives set out for it: establishing a necessary balance by allowing blind and partially sighted people access to material that they would otherwise only obtain with difficulty, while recognising the legitimate interests of authors, publishers and others involved in the industry and ensuring the protection of their copyright. If we can achieve those twin objectives, the Committee will have done a good job, and we are extremely close to achieving them.
At a recent meeting of the all-party group on eye health, which I have the pleasure of chairing, the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West explained the provisions of her Bill. Representatives of authors and publishers were present to express any concerns. I found the meeting useful and hope that other members of the all-party group found it equally valuable and that it may form the basis of a consensual approach.
I have a few queries about the new clauses that I want to explore, not with the intention of dividing the Committee on the new clauses, which I wholeheartedly support, but to ensure that as many potential ambiguities as possible are ironed out. Issues of definition that always bedevil Bills of this kind. It is easy to have the intent but far more difficult to find the words that provide a workable definition that is robust
in the face of legal challenge in the future. That is especially difficult in the context of the arcane world of copyright, which is complex and gives lawyers many hours of amusement and the rest of us many hours of cost.
Will the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West or the Minister assure me that the definitions of works in proposed new section 31A(1)(a) and (b) are all inclusive? I recognise that they are intended to be. The section defines specifically
''literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work''
but goes on to refer to ''a published edition''. I do not know whether there is a legal definition of a published edition, which is testament to my ignorance, but I hope that such a definition exists elsewhere in copyright law so that it is clear what ''published'' and ''edition'' mean in the context. I hope that the Bill is intended to cover scientific works, for example, and I want to be sure that they fall within the definition. Does the definition also cover publishing in electronic form, which is different from the old-fashioned form of publishing on paper? We need a workable definition for all forms of publication.
I query the exception made for databases, which is the result of European Union law in the form of the European Commission databases directive. Again, if the exception is an immovable object, so be it. I should like databases to be encompassed by the legislation, but if they cannot be so because of something that this country has already agreed to in another context, that is something that we shall simply have to regret.
I am concerned about scientific material, where part of a published work may contain a database that is intrinsic to the understanding of that work. I am thinking of university students and others who may require access to that material but find it difficult to do so. Is there any way in which the Bill can assist such individuals in accessing the information that they need to comprehend the published work?
The hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) has already mentioned some of the concerns expressed by those who represent publishers and authors. The Committee must consider those concerns because we need to achieve a balance. He drew attention to the provision in new clause 2, which will form section 31B(7) of the 1988 Act, that states:
''copies will be used only for its educational purposes.''
The publishers argue that that is a dangerously wide term. In some ways, it is, but in other ways, it is a dangerously narrow term. There are many good reasons why people with a visual impairment may wish to access a work of literary, artistic or other merit, some of which may not be clearly defined as educational, but I see no reason why they should be refused access on the basis of that narrow definition.
I want to ensure that access is allowed for the right purposes—to address the problem of limited access as a result of visual impairment—but I do not want to introduce an artificial restriction that seeks to define an educational purpose. Certainly, in the case of libraries, I see no reason why someone should not access a
published work for pleasure, pure and simple. Why should someone who is blind or visually impaired not have the pleasure of accessing a literary work, without the need to prove an educational purpose. I would hate to see a challenge on those very narrow grounds. I am not proposing an amendment, but I hope that that issue will be addressed.
The hon. Member for Daventry also raised a concern about protection of copy in electronic form. I am entirely ignorant about that and have no idea what the difficulties are or whether the term
''so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so''
will have a substantive effect, but it would be helpful to receive further assurances on that.
On the approved body, I, too, wondered whether the definition was appropriate. By what is a body approved, because there is no process of approval? A body is ''approved'' merely because that is the wording of the definition used in the legislation. I wonder whether the provision perhaps takes the wrong approach, by seeking to define those bodies that are approved—as an educational establishment or a body that is conducted not for profit—rather than defining those purposes that are not acceptable: in effect, the commercial exploitation of works. I merely put that suggestion to the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West for her to consider. However, I entirely agree with her that it would be a great shame to restrict the definition too narrowly so that voluntary groups were prevented from making use of the provision. Perhaps a more appropriate definition would refer to those bodies that should not do so: those that are concerned with profit, with the improper commercial exploitation of copies made for this purpose. Perhaps that is a more definable property than that in the Bill.
The hon. Gentleman has made an interesting point, although it occurs to me that a commercial company might also have a subsidiary activity in which it offered the additional services not for profit. However, I am sure that the Committee can consider that.
I wish to make the point—perhaps more explicitly than I did in my earlier remarks—that one of the important points about an approved body is that it ties in with the record keeping, which is fairly central to this. There needs to be some sort of boundary to the activities of a particular body or institution, and some ability to get hold of the records and see that the spirit and the terms of the legislation are being complied with.
Yes. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I accept that the Bill makes provision for proper record keeping, and I think that we all would approve of that. However, infringement of copyright is challengeable in law, and it will remain so following the passage of this legislation. Currently, there is no requirement on everyone who proposes to infringe the law to keep a copy of the way in which they choose to infringe it, so perhaps common law or statute law can already deal with this—perhaps the courts can deal with the issue.
The point at issue is not so much the nature of the body that is responsible, but the purposes for which it
is making the copies. I may be wrong: there may be very good reasons why it cannot be defined in the reciprocal way. However, it might simply be a better suggestion.
I welcome the intermediate copies in new clause 3. That is a sensible provision. It was not explicitly dealt with previously, and it is of great value.
With regard to the licensing schemes, I hear what the publishers say. I accept their view that the copyright tribunal is an existing body that could be used for arbitration, but it is important that this legislation contains some reference to a scheme of this kind. Whether it is unnecessarily complex is a matter of judgment, but on balance I believe that the Bill's promoter has a proper scheme, within the framework of the legislation.
There may be a European angle here, because provisions within the directive may be made that seek to tie this down, and that might be a better approach. The Minister might wish to advert to that in her response.
Again, I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that.
New clause 5 gives the Secretary of State the power, effectively, to revoke a licence. I can see why that is a comfort to publishers and authors, but I am not entirely convinced that I understand why it is a necessary comfort, given that an activity that falls outside the scope of the exemptions in the Bill would clearly be an infringement of copyright. There are court procedures that can be invoked at that stage, moving on to injunction for a repeated infringement. I am not entirely clear—perhaps the Minister can help me—on why the Secretary of State needs these powers. I agree with the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West because I cannot envisage that the powers would be needed in any circumstances with respect to the bodies that I anticipate would use the measures. Why is an additional comfort required to create the stronger position of the Secretary of State intervening, rather than the courts? It is possible to make an application to the court for infringement of copyright and anything that fell within the scope of the new clause would be actionable because it would be in breach of the Bill's provisions. The provision seems to be otiose.
New clause 6 contains proposed new section 31F(4). It includes the important provision on navigation, but it repeats the provision that I understand to be in copyright legislation already about derogatory treatment. I think that that is what the hon. Member for Daventry referred to with his poetry. I shall express myself in rather less poetic terms.
It is important that copies should not pervert the sense of the original. That is an important protection for publishers and authors to ensure that their intellectual property is not damaged. What is the interplay between new clause 6 and the provision in new clause 1 on a single accessible copy for personal use, which may be made if
''a visually impaired person has lawful possession or lawful use of . . . part of''
a published work? Could it be derogatory to make a copy of part of an integral work?
The hon. Gentleman makes an inappropriate suggestion to a Committee that is considering a serious business, although a person could have that suggestion in mind.
I hope that there is not a disjunction between the provisions in new clause 6 and those in new clause 1, which allow for part of a published work to be copied for the use of a blind or visually impaired person, and that the one provision could not be used as a pretext to remove the rights given by the other. I would welcome any comments on that from the promoter or the Minister.
I hope that my comments have been supportive and constructive to the passage of the Bill. I want the Bill to reach the statute book and I want the Committee to accept the new clauses. If it is possible to improve the Bill as it goes through the parliamentary process, so be it. However, it is desperately important that we get the Bill on the statute book. It is a major advance and I congratulate the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West on her hard work.
I associate myself with the remarks made by other members of the Committee in welcoming you to the Chair, Mr. Cook.
I am delighted to express again the Government's support for the Bill. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West on giving us the opportunity to enact a very useful Bill that will benefit visually impaired people. We fully support the new clauses. It may be helpful if I make several remarks and try to respond to points that were raised.
We must think carefully about whether the Bill, which introduces new exceptions to copyright to benefit a specific category of copyright user—visually impaired people—provides a fair balance. That has been the subject of considerable discussion this morning. Indeed, an unfair balance would raise concerns under human rights law. We have taken advice, and I can confirm that the Government are satisfied that the Bill is compatible with the European convention on human rights.
We agree that there will be a need for guidance on the Bill's provisions, and we shall continue to encourage right holders and users to meet to iron out any practical problems in the spirit of the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West and other Committee members.
We shall not support the clause, as it is replaced by the seven new clauses, which should deliver exceptions to the copyright as intended in the admirable but not quite accurate text in the clause. I have little to add to what my hon. Friend said about new clause 1, as she explained admirably how it benefits visually impaired people who have copyright material that they find inaccessible.
A visually impaired person may keep an accessible copy that they were entitled to have made, or are entitled to have transferred to them, only if they still have what is referred to in the Bill as a ''master copy'' of the copyright material. It is not legal under the exception for a visually impaired person to make an accessible copy and pass it on to another visually impaired person who does not have a master copy. Nor is it possible for a visually impaired person to keep an accessible copy when they have handed on the master copy to someone else.
That is an important safeguard for right holders, as I am sure that Committee members agree, as the alternative would mean that a single master copy could result in a multiplicity of accessible copies held by different people. That scenario is simply not legal under the terms of the new exception to copyright.
That was one of the points about which right holders were worried. Many of us received briefing material expressing their anxieties. I hope that they will be reassured that we have listened to them and that the new clauses take their anxieties into account when that is reasonable. I therefore commend the new clause, which, together with the other new clauses, delivers exceptions to copyright as intended by the Bill as drafted, which had some technical problems that have been removed.
As my hon. Friend explained, some additional safeguards for copyright holders have been helpfully added, without removing or reducing the benefits that the Bill provides for visually impaired people. New clause 2 will insert the second new exception into the 1988 Act. Although the first new exception will be useful, in some circumstances, making multiple copies of the same copyright material in accessible formats will be beneficial, especially, as several hon. Members said, in the case of formats such as braille that are expensive to produce.
A considerable number of organisations at both local and national level are already engaged in such activity, but they can face many frustrations and delays in obtaining copyright clearances. The exception will remove those delays and, together with the provisions in the remaining new clauses, will provide safeguards to protect the legitimate interests of copyright owners. Moreover, copyright owners can gain remuneration for such activity by setting up licensing schemes to override the exception. We support the new clauses.
As they relate to earlier provisions in the Bill, I shall turn first to some of the points made by the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath). Works and published editions are defined in sections 3 to 8 of the 1988 Act. Works can be recorded in any way, including electronically. I hope that that reassures him.
I cannot be so reassuring about databases, which the hon. Gentleman also mentioned. A legal problem is involved in applying the exception to enable databases to be copied without infringing copyright in the database. It arises out of our obligations under European Union law. We are taking up the matter with the Commission, including in the context of the
current review of the relevant EU law, the database directive, 96/9/EC. However, the Bill must be drafted to exclude any activity that would infringe the copyright in the database, and therefore the position is as it stands.
What about the case of a database that forms part of a published work—in other words, a hybrid? There must be such cases. I am not sure how watertight the definition of database is, but I would be grateful if the Minister would consider the matter, and perhaps take advice later or write to me on the subject.
I will take the option of writing to the hon. Gentleman, in order to be absolutely clear that all the technical angles of his question are covered.
The second exception is not generally limited to use for educational purposes. The limitation applies only to activities in educational establishments. The exception allows not-for-profit bodies to make accessible copies that visually impaired people can use for pleasure, or for any other reason, as the hon. Gentleman rightly said.
We are not convinced that there is a problem with licensing schemes, but we will consider the matter carefully. I accept that the hon. Gentleman has raised some interesting questions. It is true that the courts can deal with an infringement of copyright. The Bill does not change that. The Secretary of State's order-making power can be used when past infringements have been so serious that it is necessary to limit the exception in order to reduce possible future infringement, hence the provision in new clause 5.
It is most unlikely that taking a part of a work would count as ''derogatory treatment'' as defined in section 80 of the 1988 Act, so I am able to reassure all Committee members about that, including those who love poetry.
The hon. Member for Daventry and others mentioned approved bodies. As hon. Members are aware, approved bodies can be dis-approved: the Secretary of State can do that by making an order under new section 31E, which will be inserted into the 1988 Act. New section 31F(2) will allow that. The reference to educational bodies using accessible copies for educational purposes only narrows the exception. They cannot be used other than by visually impaired people.
Are the circumstances under which the Secretary of State would have recourse to the power of dis-approving a body clear to the Minister? If there is no criterion for approval, the conduct of that body is relevant. In terms of human rights and other legislation, it is important that there is some clear pattern of offending that gives rise to an order made by the Secretary of State to take away the rights conveyed by the Bill.
The hon. Gentleman is right to say that there is no process of approval, as hon. Members have said. The Secretary of State would have regard to whether the legislation was infringed when considering whether a body should be dis-approved.
On the scope of the bodies that can act under the exception, I understand that right holders are concerned that there is a broad definition of so-called approved bodies that can act under the exception. I agree that by defining such a body as either an educational establishment or a not-for-profit body, we embrace a wide range of bodies. The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome argued that we could consider that the other way round. There are many not-for-profit bodies that might not have helping visually impaired people as their main aim, but that nevertheless want to help, particularly at a local level.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West gave several examples earlier. Neither she nor I would want, say, a local Church group that decides to help local visually impaired people by reading local newspapers and magazines on to tape to find that copyright clearance is a problem. I am sure that none of us would want that. If we become aware of serious infringement of copyright as a result of any activity under that section, we will not be reluctant to consider the making of an order under new clause 5 to limit the scope of the exception. That safeguard remains.
We must be realistic about the technical protection measures. When, for example, an electronic text needs to be put into braille and reproduced on pieces of paper, it is not sensible to suggest that it can carry copy protection measures. That is why the requirement about reapplying copy protection devices must include a test of whether it is reasonably practical to do so.
I may still need to write to the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome if he is not satisfied with my response about a database directive. It is a complex issue. Broadly speaking, apparently it may be possible to carry some of the content of a database, but not the whole database. If my answer has not fully met his point about design, I am willing to correspond further with him and copy my response to members of the Committee for their information.
We are trying to make available to the many people who have a visual impairment only what many of us take for granted. I am pleased that my hon. Friend has rightly secured such wide support for her Bill. I welcome the massive input from the RNIB and other organisations that are interested in the issue. In all their work, they—together with my officials—have contributed to a considerable improvement to what was already a good Bill. The remaining new clauses have been explained by my hon. Friend, and I trust that we shall support them all.
I thank my hon. Friend the Minister and the hon. Members for Daventry and for Somerton and Frome for the good points that they have made and for their support for the Bill. I believe that the Minister has dealt with the issues that have been raised. I wish to underline my desire—and clearly that of all those present in Committee—to continue the partnership that has been developed to secure legislation and to work together on a basis of good will. We have a shared and genuine commitment to give greater equality to people with visual impairment,
while also safeguarding the rights of professional bodies. I hope that all members of the Committee will consider that we can continue to work together as we have done up to now and secure a successful outcome.
Question put and negatived.
Clause 1 disagreed to.