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Brexit and the Future of Copyright Protection

If you work in the music industry, you need to understand copyright. Put simply, copyright enables musicians and creators to protect and make money from their work. Without it, musicians would not be able to get their music out there and make a living.

If you’ve created something original, you automatically own the copyright in it. You don’t have to register your copyright by law, but there is no copyright in an idea so whatever you create must be recorded somehow, whether it’s written music and lyrics or an audio recording.

What has any of that got to do with the EU?

Quite a lot actually. The majority of copyright law that protects performers is also European law – which means that the British government couldn’t change rules about copyright even if it wanted to.

This is good, because it means we can work with musicians and performers across Europe to protect your copyright at the EU level.

Like we did with the EU Copyright Directive, to make the internet a fairer place for performers. Despite opposition from some tech giants like Google, which spent millions lobbying against it, the Directive passed in the European Parliament in September 2018.

While it will take a couple of years to come into effect, the Directive will eventually strengthen musicians’ and creators’ rights in relation to use of their work on digital platforms. In other words, YouTube won’t be able to get away with paying artists a miniscule £0.00054 per stream anymore.

Another example is copyright term extension back in 2011. We lobbied with musicians’ unions and performers’ groups across Europe for an EU Copyright Directive that extended the term of protection for performers and producers of recorded music from 50 to 70 years.

This is where Brexit could cause problems

Despite assurances from the UK government that there will be no reduction in copyright protections post-Brexit, they haven’t given us any cast-iron guarantees.

That’s why we are lobbying to get a guarantee from government that the new EU Copyright Directive will be incorporated into UK law – and, along with copyright law already in place, protected.

Our fear is that any government easily swayed by tech giants and their corporate lobbying powers will sell out the UK’s musicians. If that were to happen, your ability to make money from your work would be limited and music would cease to be a viable profession.

November is Young Workers’ Month across the trade union movement. This year, we’re looking at Brexit and the different ways it will affect musicians. Next up, we’ll be looking at arts funding and its impact on music.

Find out more about our work to support musicians working in Europe post-Brexit.

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Published: 05/11/2018
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