HC Deb 01 July 1996 vol 280 cc593-4

'Schedule (Amendments of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 relating to cable programme services) (which contains amendments of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 relating to broadcasts included in cable programme services) shall have effect.'.—[Mr. Ian Taylor.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Ian Taylor

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss also Government new schedule 4—Amendments of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 relating to cable programme services.

Mr. Taylor

The new clause and new schedule are immensely complicated, but the purposes are relatively straightforward and simple. They adjust the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to take account of the introduction of the new must-carry requirements for cable operators under clause 86. As many hon. Members will know, the must-carry amendments were introduced following debates in the Lords in which Baroness O'Cathain played a leading and most constructive role, and I give her due credit.

Clearly, cable operators should not be liable for copyright infringement merely by fulfilling their obligations under clause 86 to carry public service broadcasts. The new clause and new schedule ensure that that is the case, while also providing for copyright owners to obtain additional payments from broadcasters where a broadcast is carried by cable outside the area for which it is made.

Cable operators not subject to the must-carry requirement will also be able to carry all the public service broadcasts within the area covered by the broadcast without infringing the copyright. The new clause also includes an order-making power to change the list of broadcasts to which this copyright exemption applies if, for example, any free-to-air digital services were to achieve a high level of penetration.

5.45 pm

Where other broadcasts are to be carried, the cable operators will need to obtain copyright clearance from the broadcaster but, as is the case at present, there will be no copyright infringement in underlying works. Broadcasters will have already paid a royalty to rights owners for the area covered by the broadcast. An additional royalty for cable coverage of the same area would therefore amount to a double payment.

We expect and hope, however, that in future there will be many new broadcasts as a result of digital technology. The new clause therefore includes an order-making power allowing the Government to limit the exemption from copyright infringement should there be evidence that copyright owners are not getting their due as a result of these developments.

Mr. Hoon

The Opposition have no substantial objection to the new clause. However, in response to the Minister's comment about the complexity of the proposals, I make the observation that it is somewhat unfortunate at this late stage in the passage of the Bill—which has completed its stages in the other place and has gone through a long and detailed Committee stage in this House—for us to be presented with complex amendments which have not been considered in detail in Committee. That is regrettable.

I wonder whether the presence of a Minister from the Department of Trade and Industry at this late stage indicates that there has been further thinking in different Government Departments about the way in which the Bill has developed. Such thinking might have been done better in co-ordination with the Department of National Heritage. It would have helped everyone to see that co-operation rather earlier in the proceedings so that we could have responded to the proposals in Committee.

Mr. Ian Taylor

Government, as we know, is a seamless web. However, when a complex piece of legislation goes through we sometimes need to table new clauses, amendments and new schedules. I apologise to the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon) for leaving the new clause until late in the day, but I think that he will agree that it is better late than never.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

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