Copyright Uncovered, Brexit update: What will happen to copyright and Artist’s Resale Right?

    Every quarter our Legal team answers your questions about copyright. This quarter, they update you on how changes to the law may affect your rights as an artist.

    The government is preparing for all possible Brexit scenarios by publishing a set of changes to the law in the event of a no-deal.
    The draft laws, called statutory instruments, set out how copyright and Artist’s Resale Rights laws (amongst others) will change in 2019 once the UK is no longer a member of the EU.  

    What does the statutory instrument do?

    At present, our laws (that are based on EU laws) refer to the UK as ‘an EU member state’ or to UK citizens as ‘EU/EEA nationals’. This will not be accurate once we leave the EU, so the statutory instruments changes all references to the EU or EEA, replacing them with reference to the UK instead.
    The effect of this straightforward change is good for you as an artist or an artist’s heir, because it means the laws that protect your rights will still have effect post-Brexit.

    What does this mean for me?

    Because the government’s main aim is to make sure the laws function post-Brexit, most things stay the same.
    The duration of copyright remains as it was before, which is generally 70 years after the death of the artist, with some special rules for photographs.
    As the UK also participates in international treaties such as the Berne Convention, which sets out the fundamental principles for copyright, your works will remain protected internationally, including in the EU regardless of Brexit.
    Crucially, the Artist’s Resale Right will remain in place after Brexit and continue to allow you as an artist or an artist’s heir to earn a royalty on the secondary sales of art works. 

    Changes to be aware of

    Mutual recognition is when countries within the EU treat citizens and businesses in the same way as their own citizens and businesses. When the UK leaves the EU, this will stop.
    One example is the EU law on ‘orphan works’, which are works such as images where the creator can’t be identified or found. Under this law, cultural heritage institutions such as museums could digitise orphan works and make them available anywhere within Europe.
    When this mutual recognition ends, the law will only extend to the UK. However, the government-run orphan works licensing scheme, which allows works to be licensed for commercial and non-commercial uses, will remain unchanged.
    A similar situation arises for collecting societies (who manage your copyright) in Europe. The law that regulates collecting societies obliged all European societies to accept any artist or creator from the EU that wants to join as a member.
    Once the UK is no longer an EU country, the European societies can’t be obligated to accept UK artists – however they may choose to do so anyway.

    The bottom line

    Overall DACS thinks that the changes introduced by the government to copyright are not significant and generally preserve the status quo.
    Importantly, you as an artist or artist’s heir will still be able to benefit from copyright and the Artist’s Resale Right post-Brexit.
    The government has also set out commitments to preserve copyright and the Artist’s Resale Right in the Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration. The current status of these documents is unknown as political discussions continue.
    DACS will keep monitoring any developments and wishes you a great start into 2019!

    More on Artist’s Resale Right and Copyright

    Artist's Resale Right and Copyright are essential means by which visual artists and artist estates can receive royalties and support their careers. 

    Find out more about Artists's Resale Right:

    For artists  
    For beneficiaries and heirs

    Find out more about Copyright:

    For artists 
    For beneficiaries and heirs


    Image: Better Scenery, 2000 © Adam Chodzko. All Rights Reserved, DACS/Artimage 2018. 

    Posted on 12/12/2018 by Laura Ward-Ure