UK may not adopt the EU Copyright Directive due to Brexit

Europe’s move to adopt new copyright laws was a top story in tech headlines last year. While music organizations all around the EU were part of the push for adoption, the UK was a notable presence in the lobbying effort. Now, the UK may not see the results of their efforts.

The controversial overhaul to copyright law included several provisions reacting to the fast rise of digital media. One of the articles that the music industry had rallied behind was an end to safe harbor protections for online services, but the approved law had language that could mean draconian limits on how any content is created and shared online.

Member states of the EU explore exactly how they will implement each of the articles in the directive. But thanks to Brexit, the Conservative UK government appears to have chosen not to adopt the rules. Chris Skidmore, minister of state for universities, science, research, and innovation, told a fellow member of Parliament about the UK leadership’s stance.

“The deadline for implementing the EU Copyright Directive is 7 June 2021. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 31 January 2020 and the Implementation Period will end on 31 December 2020. The Government has committed not to extend the Implementation Period,” Skidmore said. “Therefore, the United Kingdom will not be required to implement the Directive, and the Government has no plans to do so. Any future changes to the UK copyright framework will be considered as part of the usual domestic policy process.”

The same organizations that worked for the passage of the directive have been quick to react to Skidmore’s statement.

“There is no excuse for a delay to our existing call for the Government to set out a road map outlining how it intends to take forward its support for the Directive’s key proposals,” UK Music Deputy CEO Tom Kiehl wrote to Skidmore.

IMPALA, PRS for Music, the Featured Artists Coalition, the Ivors Academy, and the Music Manager’s Forum have all issued statements against Skidmore and the government’s attitude.

Anna Washenko