Government ‘Supports Copyright Directive Goals’

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan has emphasised that the Government “supports the goals of the EU Copyright Directive”, which includes a Publisher’s Right granting press publishers a two-year term of protection against online sharing of their publications by internet companies, although hyperlinking or sharing “very short extracts” is allowed.

As things currently stand, the implementation date for the Directive, 7 June 2021, falls outside the period provided in the Withdrawal Agreement which ends on 31 December 2020. 

In a letter to the DCMS Select Committee following an appearance in front of the committee, Ms Morgan noted that: “Should the Government wish to independently implement the policy proposals contained in the Directive, it would need separate legislation.” She confirmed that this would be preceded by a public consultation and a full impact assessment.

The News Media Assocation and other bodies such as News Media Europe have lobbied hard for a publisher’s right. In a piece for PR Week earlier this year, NMA chairman David Dinsmore called for the right to be adopted into UK law as soon as possible. 

The right is expected to provide enhanced commercial opportunities and strengthen the position of publishers by covering snippets which do not attain the requisite degree of originality and/or substantiality in order to enjoy copyright protection, and by allowing publishers to market their products without having to ascertain the scope of freelance or other third party rights, which can inhibit the creation of derivative products. 

Ms Morgan said that the Government voted for the Copyright Directive “as, although not perfect, it will help creators to be more fairly rewarded for the use of their works online”.  She said that it “remains important to the Government that copyright law is balanced and proportionate, supporting the creative and digital economy, benefiting consumers, and promoting creativity, innovation and investment.”

Addressing the issue of press regulation in the letter, Ms Morgan said the Government was “committed to independent self-regulation of the press” and valued the high quality reguialtion provided by both PRP-approved and non-PRP regulators.

“IPSO continues to make improvements in the areas identified by Sir Brian Leveson. Sir Joseph Pilling’s independent review of IPSO found that it had made important achievements in demonstrating that it was an independent and effective regulator.”