Copyright

The SoA works at UK, EU and international levels to protect and promote a strong copyright regime.

It is outrageous that anyone can steal an artist’s work and get away with it. It is theft, as surely as reaching into someone’s pocket and taking their wallet is theft. Writers and musicians work in poverty and obscurity for years in order to bring their work to a pitch of skill and imaginative depth that gives delight to their audiences, and as soon as they achieve that, the possibility of making a living from it is taken away from them. There are some who are lucky enough to do well despite the theft and the piracy that goes on all around them; there are many more who are not. The principle is simple, and unaltered by technology, science, or magic: if we want to enjoy the work that someone does, we should pay for it.

Copyright is founded on the principle that authors own the right to their intellectual creations and should have the right to authorise others to use their work or not. Authors also have the moral right to be identified as the author whenever their work is used and to object to derogatory treatment of their work.

Copyright law and licensing is essential to individual authors and the publishing and creative industries as a whole. It helps to incentivise innovation and encourage investment, and enables authors to protect and exploit their work. The last few years have seen detailed and rigorous review and debate of copyright legislation both domestically and in Europe. The result for the UK is a legislative framework that is balanced in respecting the rights of users and creators. It is important that we maintain a strong copyright regime, harmonised with the rest of Europe to ensure that we can still export to major markets. 

The SoA therefore urges the UK to continue to follow future EU copyright law and the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy, which represents a significant initiative for UK rightsholders and innovators. See our C.R.E.A.T.O.R page for more information on the EU Copyright Directive. Existing copyright laws derived from the EU must be maintained after Brexit.

Collective Licensing

We need to build on the UK’s excellent collective licensing initiatives to ensure that information can be shared easily and at the same time rights-holders are rewarded when their material is used. Copyright exceptions for education strike a fine balance between access for teaching and learning and reward for those creating educational materials. The remuneration that authors and publishers receive from licensed educational use is essential in supporting the development of new works for the education sector. A study carried out in the UK in 2011 reported that for UK educational authors a 20% reduction in secondary licensing income would result in a 29% decline in output (which would mean 2,870 fewer new works being created annually). The current situation in Canada, where educational publishing is in danger of becoming unsustainable, demonstrates what can happen when the balance between permitted activities and remuneration is lost.

Digitisation of Museums and Archives

The SoA supports endeavours to provide wider access to museum and library collections but urges that this should be done with full respect to copyright and by engaging authors under the PARTNERS protocol. In particular we generally discourage use of Creative Commons licences. We know that CC licences set out clearly understandable rights to non-experts, and are popular within the cultural and educational sectors and funders, but they are not appropriate in cases where creators are professionals who receive licensing revenues (items such as soldiers' letters may be different). It is not always clearly understood that:

  • these licences cannot be revoked 
  • they are to the whole world, not just the archive
  • they prevent legitimate collective licensing revenues (see above). 
  • a user could adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for non-commercial use, including in ways which would amount to derogatory use.

Copyright education

Knowledge of copyright, its value and how to exploit and protect it is vital for every citizen - particularly in a digital age when all are creators. We believe that the Government must do all it can to spread knowledge and understanding of copyright.

We believe that the National Curriculum should instil in pupils an understanding of the artistic and commercial value of intellectual property rights. School pupils need to be educated on the dangers of piracy in an era when copying is so easy. We are therefore concerned that the National Curriculum for 2014 saw the loss of any reference to intellectual property rights. This seems at odds with the stated ambition of the Government that an effective intellectual property regime ‘requires education’ (Government Response to the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, p.10).

We support Get it Right from a Genuine Site, which aims to 'inspire people in the UK to support the things they love by sourcing them from genuine services.'

What are we doing?

We work at UK, EU and international levels to protect and promote a strong copyright regime. We believe that current copyright law is sufficiently flexible and any proposed changes must be fully considered as to the impact they may have on creators.

The SoA lobbies the EU, UK Government and the Intellectual Property Office as well as other interested bodies to ensure that authors’ views are heard and taken into account. We sit on representative bodies including the British Copyright Council and the International Authors Forum.

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