How does the UK Protect Foreign Copyright Works and Performances?

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Under UK law, we are obligated to either provide full, partial or no protection to foreign works and performances. However, this will all depend on the country of origin of the work or performance. 

This concept is based upon the principles within the international copyright treaties that the UK are party to. The treaties include:

  • Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Art Works
  • Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (WCT)
  • WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT)

All these treaties require the UK to protect copyright works and performances from other countries that are members of these treaties. 

Overview of Copyright law

The provisions which sets out how the UK protect foreign works and performances are set out in the following legislation:

  • The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the CDPA)
  • the Copyright and Performances (Application to Other Countries) Order 2016 (the 2016 Order) as amended by the Copyright and Performances (Application to other Countries) (Amendment) Order 2021

The CPDA is the main legislation on copyright in the UK. Part 1 of the Act states the nationality requirements that need to be met for copyright works to qualify for protection. Part 2 deals with rights in performances and sets out the nationality requirements to qualify for protection. 

The 2016 was put into place to allow for the automatic extension of protection to foreign works and performances, as countries are added to the list of Copyright treaties to which the UK is a party to. 

In June 2021, this order was amended to update the list of countries that are members of WPPT. This now ensures that works and performers from these countries will have rights and protection under UK law. 

Types of Works

Here is a summary of the different types of works that have rights under UK law and how they are eligible for protection. 

Literary, Musical, Dramatic, Artistic works, films and typographical arrangements

All these types of works are eligible for if:

  • The author is a citizen or resident of, or a body incorporated under the law of, the UK or a country that is party to the Berne Convention or a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • The work was first published in the UK or a country that is party to the Berne Convention or a member of the WTO.
  • The work is linked to the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an Overseas Territory as set out in Chapter IX of the CDPA.

Sound Recordings

These will be eligible for protection if:

  • The producer is a citizen or resident of or a body incorporated under the law of, the UK or a country that is party to the Rome Convention, WPPT, the Berne Convention or a member of the WTO.
  • The recording was first published in the UK or a country that is party to the Rome Convention, WPPT, the Berne Convention or a member of the WTO.
  • It is linked to the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or an Overseas Territory as set out in Chapter IX of the CDPA.

Sound recordings that are from countries who are members of the WPPT or the Rome Convention usually receive greater protection than those from countries that are not part of these treaties. 

Broadcasts

Broadcasts will be protected if:

  • The broadcaster is a citizen or resident of, or a body incorporated under the law of, the UK or a country that is party to the Rome Convention or a member of the WTO.
  • The broadcast is first transmitted from the UK or a country that is party to the Rome Convention or a member of the WTO.
  • It is linked to the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or an Overseas Territory as set out in Chapter IX of the CDPA.

Performances

Performances will receive protection if:

  • The performance was given in, or by a citizen or resident of, the UK or a country that is party to the Rome Convention, WPPT or a member of the WTO.
  • The performance is linked to the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or an Overseas Territory as set out in sections 181 and 206 of the CDPA. 

Like sound recordings, performances will receive greater protection if they are from countries which are party to the Rome Convention or WPPT. 

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