EU Copyright Directive: experts outline what’s next for UK

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‘Currently, the UK government is committed to the Copyright Directive – but how they implement it in a post-Brexit world is uncertain,’ Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum, has said.

Addressing delegates at The Great Escape today (Thursday), the former civil servant for the Department of Trade said that while the government doesn’t usually amend incoming EU law, its precise position remains unclear if Britain exits the EU.

‘In the past, the government has been really opposed to “gold-plating” the law, which means not adding in any additional requirements,’ she said.

‘But, having said that, post-Brexit, who knows? If we stay in, we would probably follow the country that takes the lead [in first implementing the law nationally]. But if we’re out of the EU then all gloves will be off. Will the government hold to its principle of no gold-plating?’

The Copyright Directive, which finally passed in March 2019, transfers copyright liability from users to digital service providers, and goes some way to ensure content creators and rightsholders are remunerated for their work.

It is due to be formally published on 17 May, with all 28 member states obliged to adopt it nationally within two years.

However, as copyright laws across Europe differ across borders, it is still up for debate what the legislation will look like on a local level.

Sophie Goossens, counsel at Reed Smith LLP, who was also on the panel, explained: ‘This directive is special because it deals only with online: you don’t have room to have 27 or 28 different interpretations of what [this legislation] means.

‘What is likely to happen is that the first countries to transpose the directive will own some of the narrative and mark the text with their own vision. They will influence the text a great deal, and this is the reason why there is one country gearing up to be the first to transpose – France.’

There is already an audiovisual reform programme underway in the country and Goossens believes that the government will adopt the text – or at least be examining it – within the next 12 months.

Elsewhere, YouTube, which opposes the Copyright Directive, said last week it would step up efforts to campaign for reform on national and local levels over the coming months, as implementation begins across Europe.