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Legislation change on the showing of films could impact on many

The law relating to copyright extends to the protection of musical and artistic work as well as films, sound recordings and broadcasts. There have been numerous articles in recent years on the  discussions with PPL and PRS but as from June 2016 there was also a significant change to the legislation relating to the showing of films. The only reason I am now writing an article on this as opposed to in June 2016 is that it would appear that there has been a period of grace in which the new legislation was not strictly enforced. This has now ended. 

Section 72 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1998 allowed for the public showing or playing of a broadcast by organisations if an entry fee was not charged. The law on this exemption has now changed, principally affecting the way in which organisations can broadcast films in public.

A television broadcast, such as one on the BBC or ITV, contains a number of different copyrights, including the broadcast itself, the creative work, the sound recording and the film. In sports matches shown on television, the music and logos are protected as created works, as is the recording of the match, and copyright gives rights holders the exclusive right to authorise or prevent the works from being communicated. We witnessed a number of prosecutions in recent years by those, notably pubs, showing football matches without the authorisation to do so.

Section 72 specifically allowed  premises with  free public access to show television broadcasts without the permission of certain copyright owners. This applied to film, broadcast and certain sound recording copyrights. This meant that if you had the BBC on in licensed premises and there was a film being shown, as long as access to your premises was free of charge, then this was covered by the exemption.

Following an amendment, however, film has now been removed from the scope of this exemption. This means that those wishing to show broadcasts in public may need to gain the permission of film rights holders to show the film contained within a broadcast, as is currently the case for certain other rights. Separate licences may also be required from PRS and PPL in relation to music contained in the broadcast. Section 72 does continue to apply to the broadcast itself, so as long as you have copyright permissions from the relevant copyright owners, no additional permission to show the broadcast is required from the broadcaster.

The change only affects the showing or playing of broadcasts in public by organisations and premises that do not charge an entrance fee. Free to air channels do not charge commercial premises for showing television programmes to the public. Pubs and other premises showing free to air broadcasts may need to check with the broadcaster that they are permitted to show the films contained within a broadcast in the same way that they need to understand whether they have permission to play any other work such as music. The only additional licence required to show free to air broadcasts at the moment will be the PRS and PPL permissions.