As the UK prepares to leave the EU, one of our major trading partners, Government is considering signing up to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The bodies representing creators in the UK have significant concerns over the CPTPP, especially where it relates to copyright. A consultation from the Department of International Trade (DIT) on the CPTPP has recently closed and AOI has responded to that as well as feeding into the British Copyright Council submission which presented concerns on a range of trade agreement concerns.
The countries signed up to CPTPP do not all have the same standard of copyright as the UK, and it is essential that the UK copyright is not used as as a bargaining chip in any agreement potentially weakening UK creators’ rights.
The British Copyright Council points out that ‘The creative sector consists mainly of individual creators and performers as well as small and medium enterprises. They entirely depend on copyright for their livelihoods and consequently it is paramount that any trade agreement provides a strong basis for the rights in their creative output to be protected and enforced; their ability to create is fundamental to the success of this key UK economic sector.’
In responding to the consultation we told DIT that the AOI’s major concern is that although trade agreements exist for ‘protecting intellectual property rights and supporting innovation’, the CPTPP does not protect IP rights sufficiently. Although copyright protections were included in the original trade agreement in the final draft many of these were suspended, including copyright term of protection, technical protection measures and rights management information and labels rights holders rights as potentially ‘abusive’.
Our illustrator members make their living from licensing various rights in their work to clients, and robust IP rights as we have in the UK ensure that they can do that, as they have exclusive rights as the copyright holder in their works.
The UK is renowned for its creative industries, constantly creating new work in all areas. And the new images/animations/GIFs created by illustrators need to be able to continue to benefit from the protections that our strong copyright regime gives them. The UK’s system of copyright has proved to have been applicable to the digital world and remain effective.
With Canada and New Zealand having a copyright protection term of 50 years (it is 70 in UK), if the UK signs up to the CPTPP the lower standards of protection in these countries could be enshrined in our trading relationship. This would be to the detriment of creators.
Chapter 18 of the CPTPP on Intellectual Property is weighted in favour of greater exceptions to copyright – which allow use of works without permission – and access to public domain works than currently exist in UK law, and these exceptions are not presented alongside the need to preserve fair remuneration or compensation models for creators. Therefore creators could lose out.
Article 18:3.2 positions the exclusive rights of rights holders (whcih we hold in the UK) as a potential barrier to trade or international transfer of technology, which we do not recognise as valid or true. Reasonable rights for creators should not be considered as an impediment to technological business models.
For these reasons we urged Government to ensure that copyright is protected to the standard of the UK’s copyright framework in any trade agreements.