EU Copyright Directive: next steps

Last month, the Copyright Directive was formally endorsed by the Council of the European Union, clearing the final hurdle of its rocky path through the EU’s legislative process. 

The firing gun will soon be started on a 24 month period by which EU countries must implement the new rules into domestic legislation; whether the UK is required to do so, depends on the nature of the UK’s departure from the EU.

In any Brexit scenario, Equity will urge the UK Government to implement it, advocating for this legislation as we did throughout its passage with The International Federation of Actors (FIA) and many other partners across the entertainment industry.

This legislation marks a critical step forward for performers and authors in getting fairer remuneration for use of their work – including provisions for better contractual terms and transparency in royalty accounting. For example, the “principle of appropriate and proportionate remuneration” in Article 18, by which authors and performers will be able to seek compensation for the exploitation of their work, proportionate to the revenues generated by their material, rather than based on a flat rate. While Equity already negotiates performers’ exclusive contractual rights to get secondary use and additional payments, this may provide some protection against buyout contracts (where authors are forced to abandon all rights and entitlements, before there is any way of assessing how well a programme will perform) and will assist with developing collective agreements in areas without them. 

Stephen Spence, Deputy General Secretary – Industrial and Organising, said:

“The passing of the directive by the European Parliament marks the end of four years of protracted tussle over its contents, which was nearly derailed completely by the big tech giants. While we inevitably achieved less than we set out to achieve, we took some critical steps forward for Equity members that we are determined to push forward with.

“A long road lies ahead. As we’ve seen in the past, important changes introduced at EU level can be considerably diluted by the time they are implemented into UK law. Equity will do its best to avoid this and will be lobbying hard with others to ensure that the UK implements the goals of the directive to recalibrate current protections in favour of performers and other rights-holders, to ensure members are properly remunerated from online revenues that are generated from the content on which they depend”.