Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market – update

The Directive on Copyright is an important piece of European Union legislation designed to modernise copyright for the digital age. Now passed, it will help ensure a fairer deal for those working in the creative sector in areas such as contracts and fair payments. But what happens for the UK?

Following the endorsement of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market by the European Parliament on 26 March 2019, the European Council followed suit in adopting the Directive at its meeting on 15 April 2019.

The Directive on Copyright was then published in the Official Journal on 17 May 2019, and will enter force 20 days from that date (on the day that Theresa May leaves office), triggering a two-year period, ending on 7 June 2021, by which time member states must have transposed the legislation into their national laws.

The Commission is expected to issue guidelines on implementation later this year. Several EU member states have already published their considerations on transposition.

The options for the UK are subject to the details of the withdrawal from the European Union. If we are still in the EU at the point at which we must implement the directive, it will be achieved via “secondary legislation” (Art. 2 European Communities Act).

If we are outside the EU without a deal, it will be a political decision for the UK whether to copy the provisions of the Directive and adopt them as UK law using primary legislation. If we are in transition or in an extension period, it all depends on the arrangements made in the withdrawal agreement and the political intention of Government.

(Please note the numbering of the articles in the Directive changed in the final text, so that former Article 11 is now Article 15, and former Article 13 is now Article 17, and so on.)

Thanks to Florian Koemple of the British Copyright Council

4th June 2019

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