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Copyright Tribunal rules will change to fast track smaller cases

That means cases involving small amounts, not dwarves

The Government is changing the way that a copyright disputes body operates in a bid to save time and money. It has opened a consultation on the changes to the operation of the Copyright Tribunal.

The Tribunal is the body that rules on disputes between users and collecting or licensing societies. These societies act for groups of rights holders such as songwriters or authors and collect money from people or businesses that use copyrighted work.

The reforms are intended to make the Tribunal cheaper to use and to increase the speed at which decisions are reached. They have been proposed after an internal review by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and recommendations by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills.

The IPO said that the operation of the Tribunal would be altered to make it more like courts by adopting case management techniques from the courts' civil procedure rules (CPRs).

"Stakeholders supported the alignment of the rules for the Tribunal to the Civil Procedure Rules and looked forward to improved case management procedures to ensure that cases would not be subject to disproportionate costs and delays," said the consultation document.

To increase the speed of proceedings the reforms will create a new kind of dispute resolution, a 'small applications' fast track for cases where the amount at stake is small and the facts and law relatively simple.

If a case turns out to be more complicated than it at first appeared it can be switched to the normal procedure at any time, the IPO said.

"The Intellectual Property Office agrees with the Select Committee that it is essential for licensees and prospective licensees of licensing bodies (including small businesses) to have access to an effective and independent redress mechanism, and the twin track allocation system in the draft Rules is a step in that direction," said the consultation document.

The IPO has also proposed that cases should be referable to the Tribunal by licensing bodies and not just by users of copyrightable material. It said that this must be consulted on separately, though, because it would require a change in the law.

Read the consultation document here.

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