Repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

May 2016

UK law in respect of artistic works which have been industrially manufactured (more than 50 were made) is changing.  On 28th July 2016, a repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) will come into force which will affect how these works can be used.  

Section 52 of the CDPA currently contains an exception which limits copyright protection for certain artistic works when they have been industrially manufactured. This means that when more than 50 copies of these artistic works are made, then the current period of protection is limited to 25 years, compared to other artistic works which are protected by copyright for the lifetime of the creator plus 70 years. The Government has decided to bring industrially manufactured items into line with other artistic works so that all types of artistic works will have copyright protection for the life of the creator plus 70 years, rather than the 25 years it would have had under section 52 CDPA.

Important Dates

28 July 2016

The repeal of section 52 CDPA comes into force. From this date, you may not make or import new copies of artistic works unless they were contracted before 16:30 on 28 October 2015, permission is granted by the rights holder, or an exception applies.

28 January 2017

From this date you may not deal with any replicas or unauthorised copies made in reliance on section 52 CDPA. By this date, all of these items must:

  • be depleted (sold or destroyed):
  • have permission from the rights holder to continue their trading; or
  • rely on an exception.

Simple possession of an article after this date will not be a breach of copyright, although possession may become an infringement if done so while acting in the course of a business.

Following the change in law, artistic works that had been industrially made but whose 25 year term of copyright had expired under section 52, will resume the remainder of the complete lifetime plus 70 year term at the point at which the old 25 year term had expired, so some works will effectively revert to being protected by copyright.  Some examples can be found in the UKIPO’s guidance here.

If you would like any further information on how the repeal of section 52 CPDA may affect your business, please contact HGF Law.  

This update was prepared by Martyn Fish, Partner in our Leeds office.

If you would like further advice on this or any other matter please contact Martyn or your usual HGF representative or visit our Contact page to get in touch with your nearest HGF office.