On 31 December 2020, the Brexit transition period comes to an end, and significant changes to the law in the UK will take effect.
For copyright and neighbouring areas of the law, there are some important soundbites for businesses to be aware of – some of which you may already have heard about, while others may be news outside the UK (even for experienced copyright lawyers):
- Copyright and related rights are
governed in the UK by national legislation, which has been framed
so as to give effect to the terms of international treaties, for
example the Berne Convention of 1886. Aspects of copyright have
been harmonised by EU directives, such as copyright protection for
databases, computer programs, photographs and sound recordings.
These effect, for example, the tests for subsistence. Such
harmonisation has, in theory, been implemented in our national law
and will continue to be applied by our national Court. However,
from 1 January 2021, our national interpretation of harmonised
aspects of copyright can begin to drift from findings of the
- For traditional forms of copyright
protection, such as for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic
works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical
arrangements of published editions, Brexit has no practical impact
for the existing regime.
- Disputes as to copyright in the UK
are, and will remain, matters for the courts of the UK, and there
will be no change to the availability of remedies protecting
copyright. In particular:
- Injunctive relief to restrain
infringement in the UK will continue to be available upon
consideration of the same legal principles. This includes the award
of blocking orders, which have been granted by the
courts in the UK to address copyright (and trademark) infringement
in many different technological contexts.
- Injunctive relief to restrain infringement in the UK will continue to be available upon consideration of the same legal principles. This includes the award of blocking orders, which have been granted by the courts in the UK to address copyright (and trademark) infringement in many different technological contexts.
- As a signatory to the Hague
Convention on Choice of Court Agreements, the UK courts will
continue to recognise and give effect to exclusive jurisdiction
clauses, including those conferring jurisdiction on the courts in
the UK in respect of licences of copyright beyond the UK.
- Unless agreement is reached to
replace (in respect of the UK) the "Brussels" and
"Lugano" regimes on jurisdiction and enforcement of
judgments in the EU and the EEA, in the UK the common law will
govern such issues. The common law already governs such issues as
between the courts in the UK and the courts in the US and Canada.
The transition presents some opportunities for well-informed
- However on 31 December 2020 the UK will cease to participate in a number of cross-border mechanisms established by EU legislation, in particular the EU-wide copyright clearance regime for satellite and cable broadcasts. More information on the regimes affected is provided in our article What does Brexit Mean for Intellectual Property?
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.