Turns Out That Brexit Means Rotting Pigs' Heads, And Losing An EU Copyright Exception

from the taking-the-orphans-hostage-again dept

Surprising no one who understands anything about international trade, the UK's departure from the EU -- Brexit -- is proving to be disastrous for its economy. Among the latest victims are Scottish fishermen, who are no longer able to sell their catches to EU customers, and the UK meat industry, which has tons of rotting pigs' heads on its hands. And it turns out that Brexit will be making copyright worse too.

It concerns the slightly obscure area of what are traditionally called "orphan works", although "hostage works" would be a better description. Whatever you call them, they are the millions of older works that are out of print and have no obvious owners, and which remain locked away because of copyright. This has led to various proposals around the world to liberate them, while still protecting the copyright holders if they later appear and assert ownership. One of these proposals became the 2012 EU Directive "on certain permitted uses of orphan works". It created a new copyright exception to allow cultural institutions to digitize written, cinematic or audio-visual works, and sound recordings, and to display them on their Web sites, for non-commercial use only. As Techdirt noted at the time, the Directive was pretty feeble. But even that tiny copyright exception has been taken away in the UK, following Brexit:

The EU orphan works exception will no longer apply to UK-based institutions and will be repealed from UK law from 1 January 2021.

UK institutions may face claims of copyright infringement if they make orphan works available online in the UK or EEA, including works they had placed online before 1 January 2021.

Now, in order to use orphan works in the UK, people must pay a recurring license fee based on the number of works involved. As a result, the British Library has started withdrawing material that it had previously digitized under the EU orphan works directive:

As many of you know, back in 2015 the British Library, working closely with partners at Jisc's Journal Archives platform and with copyright holders, digitised and made freely available the entire run of Spare Rib magazines. We are delighted that this resource, documenting a vibrant and important period of women's activism in the UK, has been so well used by researchers and those interested in the Women's Liberation Movement.

It is therefore with considerable regret that we are confirming that the resource, as a result of the UK leaving the European Union, will no longer be available following the end of the transition period. The decision to close down the Spare Rib resource once the UK leaves the EU was made on the basis of the copyright status of the digitised magazine, which relies heavily on the EU orphan works directive.

Brexit was sold on the basis that it would make things better in the UK. And yet the change to copyright brought about by Brexit turns out to make things worse for scholars and the general public. It seems that pigs' heads are not the only thing rotting thanks to Brexit.

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Filed Under: brexit, copyright, eu, orphan works, uk


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 12:21pm

    UK institutions may face claims of copyright infringement if they make orphan works available online in the UK or EEA

    Who brings such cases, or is it only a risk if the copyright owner comes forward?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:10pm

      Re:

      If it was in the US they could be charged with criminal copyright infringement because of the NET law, even if they're not profiting off it. I'm not sure if the UK has similar laws.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 12:49pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:18pm

    Ah the wonders of copyright

    Now, in order to use orphan works in the UK, people must pay a recurring license fee based on the number of works involved.

    Just let that sink in for a moment. You have to pay in order to use a work when there is no known owner to pay, just on the off chance that an owner might pop up at some point in the future.

    Truly an amazing example of how copyright benefits the public at large and helps culture and creativity, and more seriously providing a great argument for making copyright opt-in and requiring registration so there's no wondering if something is or is not covered and who might have the rights.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:26pm

      Re: Ah the wonders of copyright

      Just let that sink in for a moment. You have to pay in order to use a work when there is no known owner to pay, just on the off chance that an owner might pop up at some point in the future.

      Not sure if that's better or worse than the US system, where there's not really much of a legal mechanism for copying orphaned works at all.

      Truly an amazing example of how copyright benefits the public at large and helps culture and creativity, and more seriously providing a great argument for making copyright opt-in and requiring registration so there's no wondering if something is or is not covered and who might have the rights.

      I think we're generally talking about works whose copyright was registered but whose current ownership is unclear. Copyrights can be transferred. Companies go bankrupt, assets get sold, and of course we're talking about countries with "life plus" copyright terms, so the original author may die and leave their work to somebody else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:58pm

        Re: Re: Ah the wonders of copyright

        If copyright required registration to gain, transfering it would logically require re-registration.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 10:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Ah the wonders of copyright

          If copyright required registration to gain, transfering it would logically require re-registration.

          The copyright maximalists only want copyrights treated as property when it's convenient to their arguments—not when it comes to issues of registration, taxation, or abandonment. Then suddenly it's not property.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Châu, 23 Jan 2021 @ 5:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: Ah the wonders of copyright

          Require update registration in month after sell/give other company or person like sell car or house. If fail update registration, automatic become public domain.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 2:18pm

        Re: Re: Ah the wonders of copyright

        Not sure if that's better or worse than the US system, where there's not really much of a legal mechanism for copying orphaned works at all.

        Assuming the license prevents any after the fact lawsuits should a copyright owner come forth I'd say better, as in the US you risk absolutely insane penalties by using an orphan work, but 'better than horrible' isn't really a high bar to surpass.

        I think we're generally talking about works whose copyright was registered but whose current ownership is unclear. Copyrights can be transferred. Companies go bankrupt, assets get sold, and of course we're talking about countries with "life plus" copyright terms, so the original author may die and leave their work to somebody else.

        All of which makes a huge mess of things and the original registration kinda moot, so I suppose you'd need to tack on a 'ownership transfers or changes of status must be noted as well' requirement, though you could probably clear out a lot of the problems by simply reducing copyright duration to a sane length of time instead, as you'd no longer have to deal with century plus time periods and everything that might happen in that time.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:28pm

      Re: Ah the wonders of copyright

      And pay who, i wonder.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:19pm

    Brexit wasn't/isnt the problem, it was the fucking morons negotiating for the UK that were! Add in the fact that the EU had no intention, from day one, to allow the UK to have anything that was beneficial to it and would only accept whatever was beneficial to the EU! The UK was screwed while it was an EU member and screwed even more as soon as it wanted out! Now the EU heads have gotta find another whipping boy, another sucker nation to throw all the shit at but no one will take yhe job, they all know what's involved having set yhe UK up from the beginning!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:35pm

      Re:

      Brexit wasn't/isnt the problem, it was the fucking morons negotiating for the UK that were!

      Those are both pretty much the same thing. Always have been.

      Add in the fact that the EU had no intention, from day one, to allow the UK to have anything that was beneficial to it and would only accept whatever was beneficial to the EU!

      But i thought the UK is a free superpower, able to do whatever it wants, and would easily be better off the second they were free of the EU. Which, uh, they delayed repeatedly for some very good reasons i am sure!

      The UK was screwed while it was an EU member and screwed even more as soon as it wanted out!

      Uh no, and yes on the second part, but that was and is and will continue to be entirely self-inflicted.

      Now the EU heads have gotta find another whipping boy, another sucker nation to throw all the shit at but no one will take yhe job, they all know what's involved having set yhe UK up from the beginning!

      ROFL what?

      Side note about the EU thing and it's predecessors: Have you been bombed to shit in the last 70 years? Yeah, i don't remember that sort of thing happening either. The problem is, no one bothers to remember what it was like before, except when they were doing the empire shit to someone else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 2:09pm

      Re:

      The UK, no longer a member of the EU, are free to write their own copyright exceptions all by themselves now. They choose to screw over their own people instead.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 8:09pm

      Re:

      If you want to point fingers, you should blame Thatcher for getting you to join the EEA in the first place, never mind Eden for his silent consent to the Rome Treaty.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2021 @ 2:53am

        Re: Re:

        It was Edward Heath not Thatcher that signed up for the Common Market after a referendum in 1975. Thatcher signed the Single European Act in 1986 which created the tariff free trade between member states.
        The Maastricht Treaty, signed by John Major in 1992 (without any form of referendum!) changed a group of rrading partners into the EU as we know it now.

        Thatcher get a lot of abuse for breaking the unions and selling off state run utilities but she did not get us inTo Europe.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Jan 2021 @ 1:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "The Maastricht Treaty, signed by John Major in 1992 (without any form of referendum!) changed a group of rrading partners into the EU as we know it now. "

          The same happened in just about every member state. Those who were rightfully wary about signing away their national sovereignty to a body of neo-feudal bureaucrats were simply shamed into joining or sold down river by their national elected representatives just not representing their citizenry very well.

          The four freedoms, the common market, the border-crossing cooperation...these were all good things, logical expansions of the old coal-steel union and the schengen accords. Maastricht was that point where the EU went off the rails and sailed out over the brink.

          Brexit may be a shit-show founded in largely inaccurate accusations of EU malfeasance, but there is certainly no shortage of real reasons as to why a member state might like to leave, the democratic deficit, emergence of the neo-feudal self-serving bureaucracy in Brussels and the implausibly unreasonable allocation of subsidies being but three major reasons.

          Right now the UK may be feeling the pinch, because the way the EU was set up although leaving had to be an option, that option was certainly designed to be as punishing as possible for the former member state. Twenty years from now, though, I'm betting a lot of member states will be looking to the UK and wishing they'd have gotten out as well, while the going was good.

          "Thatcher get a lot of abuse for breaking the unions and selling off state run utilities but she did not get us inTo Europe."

          A lot of things can be said about Thatcher but I highly doubt she'd ever have signed to Maastricht.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      crade (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 10:40pm

      Re:

      you didn't have the worst negotiators in the world, you just were not in a good position. anyone could see that, you made an agreement, they didn't want you to leave, you wanted to leave and you need all of europe more than they need all of you, thats just not a good position to negotiate from

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Jan 2021 @ 1:58am

        Re: Re:

        "...you wanted to leave and you need all of europe more than they need all of you, thats just not a good position to negotiate from"

        There's an argument to be made that before Maastricht and the EU membership the UK didn't need the EU. The four freedoms and common market rules were good for everyone.
        It's when the Maastricht treaty came around and the common market suddenly became conditional to accepting a common currency and a legislative body almost completely unattached to the national voters that the EU suddenly became a bad thing.

        That's not exclusive to the UK where a few demagogues had to invent anti-EU rhetoric not based in factual reality because the very real reasons to leave were considered too intangible for the clownish voting base those demagogues relied on.

        Although the writing's pretty much on the wall concerning this latest attempt to unite Europe it will still take a generation or two before the citizenry of member states start asking questions such as what will happen to all the toxic debt the EU disappeared into thin air by printing money, for how long the EU can spend more on protectionist measures than it takes in, and for how long it'll take before european liberal member nations can stand having to accept, as their peers, ultra-autocratic pseudo-dictatorships like Hungary being able to make decisions affecting those liberal member nations.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 23 Jan 2021 @ 12:59am

      Re:

      Add in the fact that the EU (...) would only accept whatever was beneficial to the EU!

      It's sad how you almost had a brush with reality, but then you ignored it and kept ranting.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 25 Jan 2021 @ 8:31am

      Re:

      Add in the fact that the EU had no intention, from day one, to allow the UK to have anything that was beneficial to it and would only accept whatever was beneficial to the EU!

      Remember that time when the UK presented a list of demands to the EU, and the EU agreed to all of them, and then the UK parliament rejected their own proposal?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Beefcake (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 5:25pm

    Orphan ain’t free in the UK

    cuz someone’s coming sometime, maybe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 6:36pm

    Obvious jokes about David Cameron aside....

    It is the own goddamned fault of the fishermen and butcher company owners for being too dense to do their homework on the paperwork and tax issues from not being in a common market . They don't deserve any money. If they did their fucking job instead of relying on wishful thinking about Brexit giving them a pony.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jamie, 23 Jan 2021 @ 3:43am

      Re: Obvious jokes about David Cameron aside....

      The fishers and the pig farmers and the people who relied on trade with the EU would have generally voted to stay. Why would you want to risk making it harder to sell to one of your biggest customer bases?

      I feel sympathy for these groups because they've been screwed over by their own government's hubris. And what's worse is that same government is trying to pretend like it's all just "teething problems", when what they're really seeing is the consequences of their own damn actions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2021 @ 9:05am

        Re: Re: Obvious jokes about David Cameron aside....

        Sorry to disappoint you, but the fishing industry in the UK backed Brexit.
        Even in Scotland- home of most of the UK's commercial fishing vessels- where the majority of the population voted remain.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2021 @ 9:55am

        Re: Re: Obvious jokes about David Cameron aside....

        That doesn't change the fact that they didn't do their jobs as businesspeople no matter how stupid the policy may be. Requiring every truck driver to wear a fresh banana in a tinfoil fedora and dance the waltz for an hour at either side of the border would be utterly insane and moronic as a policy and I could easily see harming but profits but of the madness is scheduled ahead of time it is their responsibility to prepare for that in compliance and/or ending contracts which will now become money losers. Not trying to send trucks of perishable goods with only two hours of preservation when they should know border bullshit will eat them up.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Jan 2021 @ 2:19am

      Re: Obvious jokes about David Cameron aside....

      "They don't deserve any money. If they did their fucking job instead of relying on wishful thinking about Brexit giving them a pony."

      Those were probably the ones voting to stay.

      To be fair, the UK had enjoyed the common market, as did every EU member nation, for a long time before Maastricht. Up to that point, all was good.

      Maastricht brought the federalization and the common currency...and the very real issues which for some reason the demagogues in the UK never brought to the table. Probably due to being too complex and long-term for Farage's clownish base.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andy J, 23 Jan 2021 @ 5:57am

    The reason that the UK could not continue to operate the EU's institutional variant of orphan works licensing was because the EU Directive required all orphan works in this category to be registered with the EU Intellectual Property Office in Alicante. As this is an EU agency, naturally once the UK had left, this could no longer apply.

    However I think it is highly llikely that, when the parliamentary time becomes available, the UK government will effectively re-introduce the same system for institutions, to be administered by the UK IPO, alongside the other orphan work licensing regime which is available to members of the public, and which continues to operate successfully. The article failed to make it clear that even under the EU system institutions still had to maintain an escrow fund in order to pay fees to a copyright owner who came along to claim their work. Incidentally, the fees which Glyn mentioned as being payable are comparable to the fees charged by the US Copyright Office in order to gain copyright registration.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2021 @ 11:47am

    Orphan works

    It's a hard knock li-- [CEASE & DESIST]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2021 @ 5:49pm

    Worse for pirates, sure.

    Masnick takes money from lots of Big Tech (through his thinktank) so it's a joke to call this an independent site. He's a mouthpiece for powerful interests who don't want to sign their name to certain postings. Nice niche.

    Masnick would have you think that one easily-correctable error in the DMCA notices is somehow enough to offset the piracy of a few hundred million books by an organized piracy ring that uses the same bitcoin address for each niche they pirate 1,000+ books from. Consumers get "free stuff" but THEY are the product, sold expensive "personal instruction" from "books" that are really "ads" for those expensive services.

    I'd say he was using a straw man but that would scare the straw.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2021 @ 10:39pm

      Re:

      Hi, Jhon. Still using your mailing list in place of an actual condom to rape Aspies with? It's not going to be a very big condom then, is it?

      Wasn't your boi Trump supposed to nuke Section 230? Or was it Ajit Pai? John Steele? Paul Hansmeier? You back so many losers it's honestly getting hard to keep track. You think "John Smith, Nambla advocate" looks good on a placard after you finally pull off that press release you keep dreaming about?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2021 @ 9:13am

      Re:

      Seriously get help - you literally sound like a paranoid schizophrenic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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