On Thursday June 23rd 2016 the United Kingdom (UK) held a referendum that amounted to citizens voting on leaving the European Union (EU). This exit by Great Britain, or “Brexit” as some have taken to call it, means many things for Britain, the EU and to a certain degree the rest of the world. But this Brexit also means various things for copyright infringement and intellectual property (IP) rights.
The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) is an agreement under the Berne Convention that deals with the protection of works and the rights of writers in the digital world and grant them certain economic rights. Countries that are a part of the European Union adopt treaties and EU legislature in order to incorporate copyright works.
The European Union’s treaties and legislature provide a sense of harmony for their states and as we have seen over the year harmonisation in the area of copyright has in fact benefitted if not improved UK law.
IP lawyers are used to change in order to keep up with ever-changing laws and the new technology arising. Now as a result of this exit, it is unclear (from an IP perspective) what the effects and the developments will be on UK law, the IP right-holders, practitioners, academics, students, civil servants, judges, and public affairs executives alike.
IP may not be affected by the Brexit decision but will certainly feel its effects. The primary concern for UK courts would be drafting new statutes and mechanisms dedicated towards copyright laws in the UK.
It would take a few years for there to be any effect on the UK’s copyright laws and, under the Norwegian model, the UK may still retain EU copyright law due to the continuous digital technologies arising in the future.
But for now this is all speculation and there is no concrete solution or outcome that can be made.