'Government has no plans' to implement Copyright Directive - our response

27 January 2020

We respond to today's Government announcement that the Copyright Directive will not be implemented into UK law.

Chris Skidmore, Minister of State at the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced today that the EU Copyright Directive will not be implemented in the UK. He said:

The deadline for implementing the EU Copyright Directive is 7 June 2021. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 31 January 2020 and the Implementation Period will end on 31 December 2020. The Government has committed not to extend the Implementation Period. Therefore, the United Kingdom will not be required to implement the Directive, and the Government has no plans to do so. Any future changes to the UK copyright framework will be considered as part of the usual domestic policy process.

In response to this announcement, Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the SoA, said:

We are very disappointed to see the announcement that the Government will not be implementing the Directive. The Directive includes many provisions which would see a more level playing field for authors when their work is used by platforms and publishers including provisions for transparency, fair pay and reversion of rights which are no longer being exploited. It includes checks on the activities of platforms which are vital to maintain privacy and the value of content.

It is worth recalling that the Directive’s full title is Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, and that is intended to ensure 'a well-functioning marketplace for copyright'.

Exports of published material are currently worth £2.9bn to the UK economy, with 36% of these exports going to Europe. It is vital that access to these markets is maintained after Brexit and that there are no additional barriers to trade. We believe that our European trading partners are likely to insist on us applying law analogous to the Directive when negotiating trade deals in order to maintain and support that well functioning marketplace. If we fail to enact it we risk losing important trade to the detriment of UK publishers and authors. The Government supported the Directive when it was originally passed and it would be fairer and less time consuming to transpose it in full than to reinvent the wheel by considering copyright in isolation or applying different provisions piecemeal in different trade deals.

The SoA and other creators’ organisations will continue to press Government to legislate for similar provisions in UK law.