We work to ensure legislation supports illustrators.
We feed into consultations to ensure the voice of illustrators is heard when legislation is changed, and work to ensure the Government safeguards the UK’s gold standard copyright regime that is so vital for sustaining our world-class creative sector, now worth around £100bn a year to the UK economy.
We also feed into and influence national level strategies and projects from the Government’s Orphan Works Licensing Scheme to DACS Payback. We meet with politicians and law makers, raising concerns proactively.
Below are a selection of submissions we have made.
Issues around AI (Artificial intelligence/machine learning) are fast moving and in 2023 the Government issued a white paper consultation on the regulation of AI and how that could be done: ‘A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation’. Questions in the paper were posed around what AI regulators should be doing, should organisations be required to make it clear when they are using AI to ensure adequate transparency, what’s required for confidence and trust in AI technology use and routes to compensate for AI-related harms, amongst others.
AOI responded in June, making the case for illustrators, the massive importance of copyright where images are used for training AI and the requirement for regulators to ensure respect for creators’ rights, plus comment on their proposal for voluntary solutions between AI organisations and creators (rather than legislation).
We emphasised that illustrators support progress in technology but also recognise the need for protections and safeguards where technology is applied. That there are valid concerns over the unauthorised use of their images to train AI/Machine learning for text to image platforms, and around possible undermining of their livelihoods by AI generated imagery. We said the default position should be that creators work will not be used for machine learning without their express permission and that the legal framework for AI-related copyright infringement needs to be clear and in line with the UK’s existing copyright regime. See the full response here.
The Government wants to look at what our exhaustion regime could be post Brexit. Moving to what is termed ‘international exhaustion’ could have an impact for illustrators, as goods could be commissioned in any country worldwide which may pay lower fees, and then imported to the UK, potentially minimising commissioning capacity in the UK. This would not be in the UK’s interest, particularly for book publishing, and therefore it’s important the government chooses to amend the exhaustion regime in a way that protects UK markets. You can read the CRA’s submission here.
The economic impact of the coronavirus crisis has been felt unevenly. This inquiry will examine different forms of inequality that have emerged or that may have been exacerbated by the crisis and how the Treasury can mitigate them.
You can read the CRA’s submission here.
As part of the CRA we submitted recommendations for the UK Spring budget. These include the need to:
• Extend and expanding the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) beyond April 2021
• Establish a Creators Council to support creative workers.
• Maintain the £20 p.w UC rate and the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor.
• Level up of support for self-employed creative freelancers.
• Extend the reduced 5% VAT rate and the VAT deferral scheme.
• Increase funding for Public Lending Right (PRL).
You can read the full submission here.
This inquiry examined the future of UK-EU relations on trade in services and welcomed submissions from the breadth of UK services. We raised concerns around Licensing, exhaustion and enforcement, tax, travel and UK Policy making. You can read our joint submission with the Society of Authors here.
As part of the CRA (Creators’ Rights Alliance) we have submitted to the consultation on the Scope and Powers of the Small Business Commissioner. You can read it here
We have submitted four recommendations to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, ahead of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (‘CSR’) in November 2020.
The CSR, which occurs every three years, will set Government budgets for the years 2021/22 to 2023/24 and provides an important opportunity for us to influence the Government’s medium-term spending priorities.
To read our submission click here.
Covid Related Submissions
We ran a survey to understand the ongoing impact of the pandemic on illustrators. We communicated this to MPs directly in a letter here
. You can read the full survey findings here
. If you wish to write to your MP you can use relevant areas of this text
Similar to the submission in June to DCMS, we outlined to the BIS committee, the financial impact of Corona Virus on illustrators, and the action needed to support individuals and the industry going forward. You can read it in full here: Post Pandemic Economic Growth BEIS AOI August 2020
We have presented the evidence of the impact of Corona Virus on Illustrators, and urged the Government to offer remedial action, and ambitious, radical support going forward in our submission: Impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors AOI Submission 19 June 2020
We have communicated the information from the survey to both the Treasury and the BEIS Inquiries. We have outlined both short and longer term support our industry needs here: Economic Impact of Corona Virus AOI Submission 27 May 2020
It is unacceptable for the SEISS scheme (supporting freelancers) not to be extended in line with the JRS scheme (supporting PAYE employees). You can read our letter of May 18 here: AOI re SEISS extension 18 May 2020
At the start of Covid we championed the need for Government support of Freelancers. Covid AOI response to Gov March 23 2020
. We followed this up here: Covid AOI response to Gov March 30 2020
We fed into the Department for International Trade’s consultation on trade with Japan in November 2019 which aims to inform DTI’s approach to the UK’s future trade relationship with Japan. You can read our submission: Japan Trade 2019.
Trade considerations concerning UK withdrawal from the EU UK Department for International Trade July 2018
The UK is going to have to negotiate some new trade deals and we are working to ensure that our excellent copyright will be a benchmark of great practise and an exportable asset – not something to be bartered.
Again we are working with the BCC and we know we will be closely aligned with other large players in film, music etc. who all rely on copyright to sustain their industries.
British illustration talent is commissioned across boundaries, from the USA, Europe and the rest of the world and we want to make sure there are no barriers to that.
AOI wrote in July 2018 to the DIT supporting the British Copyright Council’s international trade consideration feedback concerning the withdrawal from the European Union.
Points include the importance of consultation on UK’s current copyright system regarding necessary modifications on withdrawal from the EU; that there must be level playing field between individual creators and online content-sharing services and other tech companies; that the UK should improve the streamlining of withholding tax procedures from other countries in trade agreements and that the UK’s strong copyright system be upheld. See the full document: DIT Trade Considerations
Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
In October 2018 we responded to the Department of of International Trade consultation on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The UK Government is considering signing up to this, and it is important that copyright protected in any agreements with countries that do not have the UK’s robust copyright regime.
DACS sent a letter to the PM about the issues relating to the CPTPP in November 2018 and AOI was a signatory, along with Association of Photographers and Society of Authors. More details here.
The European Commission has sought input as part of an initiative to ensure that EU competition rules do not stand in the way of collective bargaining by certain solo self-employed people.
The Commission recognises that some solo self-employed might be in a situation of unbalanced negotiating power leading them to have little influence over their payment and working conditions.
This initiative could ensure that EU competition rules do not prevent self-employed in a weak position from engaging in collective negotiations or agreements to improve their working conditions. You can read more on the consultation here.
In partnership with the Society of Authors the AOI has contributed to this consultation. You can read the submission here.
The AOI has fed into the Government’s Consultation on the EU’s Digital Services Act, through submissions made both by the CRA and BCC.
The Digital Services Act builds on regulation established over 20 years ago, which, with the pace of digital development is no longer fit for purpose.
Through the BCC we have underlined the need for licenses to be obtained for creative use online, regardless of whether the content is uploaded and / or shared directly by the platform or indirectly by users of digital platforms. This would ensure that rights holders receive compensation for use of their work.
There is also an imperative need for digital services, not rights holders, to have the responsibility of meaningfully addressing piracy, with robust sanctions for infringers and supervision to create an effective marketplace for rights holders.
You can read a summary of the BCC submission here
The European Union Copyright Directive was adopted by the European Council on 15th April 2019.
This Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market is an important piece of EU legislation designed to modernise copyright for the digital age, which will help ensure a fairer deal for those working in the creative sector.
The Directive was published on 17 May 2019. By 7 June 2021 all EU member states must have transposed the legislation into their national laws. The Commission is expected to issue guidelines on implementation later in 2019. 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, so we may or may not adopt the Directive. 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.
On the Directive’s publication, the British Copyright Council stated that ‘The result is not perfect, but it is important progress. However, many will now feel the need to be watchful that where certain protections have fallen short, they will not be used to undermine the original overall objective of supporting a fair and sustainable online future for creativity.’
UK Legislation and Strategies
Funding cuts have been proposed to arts courses in Higher Education, which we believe would have a significant impact on the short and long term of the creative industries, and be hugely detrimental to the diversity of the sector. We wrote to The Secretary of State for Education about this. You can read our letter here.
The CMA (Competition Market Authority) are calling for information
to inform their Digital Market Taskforce. They will provide the government with “practical advice to inform its decisions on what intervention, if any, is necessary to protect and promote competition and innovation in digital markets and to address the anti-competitive effects that can arise from the exercise of market power in those markets.”
We have worked with the BCC to submit a responce which calls for;
-recognition of the value of creativity and innovation;
-enforcement of rights to stop economic harm to grassroots creators;
-redressing the role and responsibilities of online platforms.
to ensure a fair and transparent digital marketplace that promotes creativity, innovation and competition.
You can read BCC’s submission in full here.
This is a proposed bill which will address many of the contract issues that creators have to deal with such as clarity in contracts, reasonableness of terms, fair remuneration and moral rights waivers – you can find out more here.
The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) want to operate an Extended Collective Licensing (ECL) scheme and the AOI are broadly in support. Following an application in 2018 they withdrew this in the summer as they are waiting to see what happens with the EU’s Copyright Directive and how that might impact an application. This Directive was finalised in 2019.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) asked us to comment through a formal consultation process, which we did for the initial CRA application. They will listen to what we (and others) have to say to inform the final decision on whether the scheme is approved or not if it is reapplied for.
How the process works at present
At present, if your work is copied by organisations with a CLA licence you are eligible for royalty payment.
The CLA sells photocopying licences to schools, universities, government and businesses to cover photocopying of limited extracts from copyright-protected books on their premises. The licence fees paid are distributed back to the owners of the copyrighted material – for visual artists this is done via DACS.
The CLA are authorised to do this for visual artists by DACS. The AOI (and other organisations) in turn authorise DACS. The CLA collects money on behalf of all rights holders, regardless of their membership of a body such as the AOI.
What is an Extended Collective Licence?
The ECL formalizes the CLA as a licensing body with the ability to collect royalties on behalf of all rights holders, rather than just those who are affiliated to an authorising body.
Why are we supporting it?
The AOI supports a robust and transparent intellectual property regime within the UK to ensure that visual artists can continue to receive just income from their works.
The ECL formalises something that is already in existence, but provides an opportunity to improve it.
Therefore, in our official response to the IPO, we raised several points which we feel should be considered by IPO and CLA. These are:
Awareness of the ECL application: We want to be sure that creators who have rights are informed that an ECL application is happening as some may wish to opt some or all of their works out of it.
We are requesting the CLA to spread their publicity about the scheme across a broad range of communications and explain the scheme in plain English.
Opt Out: The process for opt-outing works must be clear, workable and efficiently operated. This means that the CLA database of works must be accurate, with work easily identifiable under an efficient search system (see ‘unique identifiers’ below).
Embedded works: These are works that are part of a larger work, e.g. an illustration in a text book or journal. It should be clear how embedded works will be dealt with. Currently these works are not identifiable via the CLA database, therefore their use may not be identified for payment under the licensing system.
A universal system of unique identifiers: Books and magazines have identifiers in ISBNs and ISSNs but individual works (embedded images, articles etc) do not. We encourage the CLA to work with creator organisations and other interested parties to develop and agree a universal system of unique identifiers for all relevant works (images, books and articles). These could then be embedded in metadata which would allow for more accurate search and identification of use within the CLA database of work
This is an important review which will result in a modern industrial strategy and economy that works for everyone. There is a specific section considering the Creative Industries. We have fed into the consultation for this, articulating the role of illustration and the creative industries within the UK economy and the need for ongoing support to see this thrive. You can read the final report here.
In May 2018 the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) responded to the submissions to the Intellectual Property Call for Views on the Industrial Strategy, which in November 2017 had asked ‘What can we do to encourage innovators to do more collaboration and commercialisation, to stimulate knowledge exchange and promote follow- on innovation?’
The Call set out a number of example proposals IPO had received, including the setting up of a Voluntary Intellectual Property Register which IPO proposed may give creators more ‘legal certainty’. In their 2018 response IPO noted ‘There was a lack of broad support for the establishment of a Voluntary Register for unregistered IP rights, with many respondents noting the additional legal and administrative burdens such a system could introduce.’
There is no requirement for copyright holders to register their IP in the UK, and AOI had stated that we didn’t believe a voluntary register would benefit creators. Our response had mentioned concerns over the additional time and effort required to register works for individual freelancers or small businesses, combined with the potential cost of registering works, which many individual creators will consider an expense they cannot afford. We also queried how the scheme would legally ascertain the veracity of claims of ownership in registered works – this could lead to confusion rather than legal certainty.
This is a large Act covering many areas which do not pertain to illustrators – however there are some technicalities which do – for example the online intermediary codes. This is where providers are required to take responsibility for content which may be infringing copyright. AOI support this legislation.