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Small firms annoyed at copyright inconsistency

Posted by: Laurence Simons 02/05/13

Copyright law has become a huge area for many in-house lawyers, as well as their counterparts working in private practice, with the advent of filesharing and the creation of a new generation of consumers who are used to getting their cultural kicks for free.

While services like Spotify and LoveFilm have attempted to find a middle ground between wholesale piracy and the old-school model of actually paying for the goods you consume, there continue to be major problems with how the music and film industries cope with copyright theft.

Legislation requires all physical copies of films sold in the UK to be branded with a British Board of Film Classification, but large and small online distributors are selling thousands of unclassified discs in the UK over the internet, reports Lawyer magazine.

With filesharing making it easy for these firms to pick up DVDs on the cheap, consumers often turn to companies like these to get a bargain - however, there is some concern that they could be prosecuted under copyright law.

Handley Brustad, lead IP officer at the Trading Standards Institute, admitted that there is currently an inconsistency in how sites are policed, given that Amazon and companies of its ilk are considerably harder to shackle.

"The problem is that those sites are more widespread - they appear across Trading Standards authorities around the UK. And at the moment there is no mechanism to deal with the issue on a national basis," he explained.

Despite the fact that streaming is common, DVDs are still big business - the latest figures from the British Video Association showing the UK market was worth more than £1.8 billion last year.

And until the litigatory situation is brought up to date, in-house lawyers will be forced to continue negotiating a complex and difficult series of regulations if their firms are to stay out of trouble.