NMA Stresses Importance of Robust Copyright Regime Post Brexit

UK copyright law must continue to operate in a way that allows news media companies to continue to invest in agenda setting journalism and creative content as the UK leaves the European Union, the News Media Association has said.

In a submission to a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into the impact of Brexit on the creative industries, the NMA stressed the importance of a robust regime “that supports a healthy, functional marketplace for copyrighted works” with “no further dilution of the broad, exclusive rights granted to publishers as copyright-holders.”

The submission said: “In addition to preserving the robustness of its own arrangements, the UK must remain engaged in efforts at European and wider international level to create a strong, united front of copyright protection for publishers and creators.

“We urge Committee members to have at the forefront of their minds that in the digital news environment, the greatest threat to the sustainability of the independent news media comes from online platforms and news aggregators large enough to shrug off attempts to assert publisher/creator rights at national level.”

The NMA welcomed the European Commission’s proposal for a neighbouring right for publishers as an important acknowledgement that a free and pluralist press provides a fundamental contribution to the proper functioning of a democratic society.

“If EU copyright does evolve in this direction, the UK after Brexit should ensure that UK law remains in step with these developments. If UK news publishers are put in a position where they either have weaker copyright protection or weaker practical ability to enforce their rights, they will be put at a grave disadvantage, not just in relation to their European counterparts but also in relation to hegemonic online giants, with whom their relationship is already extremely unequal,” the NMA added.  

The submission also highlights developments at a European level around the issue of ad blocking such the publication of guidance by BEREC that said that the installation of network-wide adblocking by mobile phone providers falls foul of EU net neutrality rules. “It is essential that both the rules and this interpretation of them continue after the UK exits the European Union,” the NMA added.

The submission also highlights other European initiatives in areas such as data protection, the Audio Visual Media Services Directive, and VAT, and pointed to potential advantages of being brought out of the scope of European legislation in these areas.