Now the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 is on the statute book, the UKIPO has published a useful guide on the transition period between 31 January and 31 December 2020. ‘During this time, EU law will continue to operate as it does now in the UK … and will continue as it is until 31 December 2020. The guidance on Copyright states that ‘[c]ontinued reciprocal protection for copyright works between the UK and the EU is assured by the international treaties on copyright. This is independent of our relationship with the EU so is not addressed in the Withdrawal Agreement.
After the transition period, the changes to copyright law from 1st January 2021 are contained in the Intellectual Property (Copyright and Related Rights) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019(Intellectual Property (Copyright and Related Rights) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019). This removes all references to EU & EEA in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and replaces them with “UK” and the following will apply:
Qualification for Copyright
Works currently eligible for copyright on the basis of nationality of the UK/EEA or any country party to international copyright treaties will continue to be eligible after the end of the transition period. Works first published or transmitted in the UK, EEA or any country that is party to the international copyright treaties will continue to be eligible for copyright protection in the UK.
UK copyright works (literary, dramatic, music and artistic) will still be protected in the EU because of the UK’s participation in the international treaties on copyright, and in parallel, EU copyright works will continue to be protected in the UK. This applies to works made before and after the end of the transition period.
Copyright duration of 70 years after the death of the author in the UK will not change after the end of the transition period. Currently, EEA works are given the same copyright duration in the UK as UK works. For works from outside the EEA, copyright lasts for the term granted in the country-of-origin or the term granted to UK works, whichever is less.
The exception for cultural heritage institutions e.g. libraries, museums, and archives to digitise and make orphan works available online across all EEA member states without the permission of the right holder will no longer apply to UK-based institutions and will be repealed from UK law after the end of the transition period. (Schedule ZA1 CDPA 1988 is omitted in its entirety). Consequently, UK institutions may face claims of copyright infringement if they make orphan works available online in the UK or EEA, including works they had placed online before the end of the transition period. (The guidance advises on what steps to be taken).
Artist’s Resale Right
In accordance with the Berne Convention, nationals of the UK and other countries that provide reciprocal treatment, including EU member states, will continue to receive resale rights in the UK after the end of the transition period.
Collective Management Organisations
In the UK, existing obligations on UK CMOs (e.g. DACS, PICSEL, ACS, etc) will be maintained after the end of the transition period. EEA CMOs will not be required by the CRM Directive to represent UK right holders or to represent the catalogues of UK CMOs. However, UK right holders and CMOs will still be able to request representation, but EEA CMOs may be free to refuse those requests depending on the law in individual member states.