Schedule 4 - Personal licence: relevant offences

Licensing Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 13th May 2003.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster 10:45 am, 13th May 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 275, in

schedule 4, page 119, line 7, at end insert—

'( ) section 107(3) (public performance of a work, knowing that it will infringe copyright);'.

This brief amendment would take account of copyright infringement and other intellectual property-related matters. As the Minister will be aware, it is a criminal offence for a public performance of a musical work or a sound recording to take place if it is known that that will infringe copyright. In other words, there has to be intent, rather than its being done accidentally. That appears alongside other criminal offences such as the public exhibition of pirate videos and films that have already been accepted by the Government as relevant offences in the Bill. Schedule 4 refers to this wording in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988:

''Where copyright is infringed (otherwise than by reception of a broadcast or cable programme)—

a) by the public performance of a literary, dramatic or musical work, or

b) by the playing or showing in public of a sound recording or a film, any person who caused the work to be so performed, played or shown is guilty of an offence if he knew or had reason to believe that copyright would be infringed.''

My understanding, having spoken with several people who have lobbied us from the industry, is that that provision is rarely used, but provides a fairly effective deterrent.

If a music user persistently fails to obtain a copyright licence, that provision makes a possible course of action open to the various licensees, such as Phonographic Performance Ltd., the Performing Right Society and Video Performance Ltd., and the trading standards officers. It can be used against a pub operator who is knowingly using a jukebox supplied and filled with counterfeit CDs. It would also assist the film industry in actions against pub operators showing pirate films, which is obviously more prevalent with the number of specialist bars now in many big cities, such as sports bars.

We should add to schedule 4 the list of relevant offences to complete the list of criminal copyright offences. Those offences would trigger a review of the alcohol and entertainment licence, thus integrating the entire system. I hope that the Minister will reassure the licensed trade that such copyright offences cannot be committed negligently or in ignorance, which would be a great concern for many in the licensed trade. The trade requires a demonstration of knowledge that copyright would be infringed. I hope that the Minister will be able to give some thought to that. I am sure that he, too, has been lobbied by various interest groups on the matter. In view of the fact that the Bill is intended not only to introduce a new regime, but to codify many of the rules already in place for licensing, it would seem sensible that the infringement of copyright should be added as part of schedule 4.

Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire

I briefly add my support to my hon. Friend, who tabled the amendment. The amendment adds the words,

''section 107(3) (public performance of a work, knowing that it will infringe copyright);''

to those offences already listed in schedule 4(12) under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The amendment would simply add to the list of relevant

offences that have to be taken into account in relation to a personal licence application. We have received considerable lobbying from people who say that there are people who have knowingly transgressed that section of the 1988 Act over a period of time, and they would like to see the addition to the list of offences in paragraph 12.

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Copyright and intellectual property rights-related offences are very serious. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster for reflecting the concerns of the music and film industries in tabling the amendments.

In response to concerns from industry, the Government have amended the Bill to make certain offences under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 relevant offences for the purpose of the Bill. One can tell that I was once a Department of Trade and Industry Minister by my pronunciation of the word ''patents'', which was drummed—beaten—into me. Such offences include those in section 198(2), which covers the broadcast of a recording of a performance made without permission, and section 297(1), which covers the fraudulent reception of a transmission. As the hon. Gentleman hinted, the matter will become more serious as digital projectors become more available and cheaper and as it becomes possible to broadcast films by satellite. The film industry is very worried about piracy.

The offences that were included deal with particular concerns of the industry. Like the hon. Gentleman, I am grateful to British Music Rights, which, I believe, was keen to add an offence to schedule 4, for stimulating debate on the issue.

I am not yet ready to accept the amendment, but I shall consider it further and return to the matter on Report. Therefore, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment at this stage.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster

It has been a sensible, albeit brief, debate. It is clear that the Bill goes beyond licensing into the regulation of entertainment, in particular live and recorded music. The amendment was tabled with the latter category in mind. I hope that after giving the matter consideration the Minister will be able on Report to go some way towards alleviating the concerns that the Music Business Forum has expressed. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 4 agreed to.