Two royal rows over copyright
WE ARE getting used to copyright - the law that ultimately underwrites freelances' ability to charge for your work - facing crunch points. Now there are two, and between them they encompass every nook and cranny of the UK's unwritten constitution except, as far as we can tell, the Church.
First, the UK government stated on 21 January that it does not plan to implement the new EU Copyright Directive, which will for example give authors in joined-up Europe rights to challenge unfair contracts.
The NUJ is talking with other organisations representing creators to see about changing the government's mind. We must be aware, though, that it is talking of a trade deal with the US government; and that these very often include clauses committing the other government to adopt US-style copyright and measures friendly to the US-based internet giants. There may be trouble ahead.
However, on the same day Nigel Adams, Minister for Creative Industries, did say in a Westminster Hall debate: "We support the overall aims of the Copyright Directive
it is imperative that we do everything possible to protect our brilliant creators, as well as the rights of consumers and users of music."
We now turn to the monarchy, the courts and the "fourth estate" that is the Press. We heard in October that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are suing the Mail on Sunday for copyright infringement - as well as misuse of private information and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 - in publishing extracts of a private letter to Meghan's father (October Freelance online).
Now the paper has filed an outline of its defence to the claim. As noted Twitter lawyer David Allen Green (@davidallengreen) observes, it argues "that because in her letter she was stating pre-existing facts, her letter cannot qualify for copyright protection as an 'original' work." This is a "remarkable submission for a news organisation presumably no news organisation - or non-fiction writer - can enjoy copyright protection for their work - I think this paragraph may be the most extraordinary submission I have ever seen in any media law case, and it deserves a prize for its audacity." Any eventual judgement in this case could define UK law on your right to defend the integrity of your works - one of the so-called "moral rights". And it's likely to lead to a veritable excrement-storm of anti-copyright campaigning. Prepare to be denounced as a royalist for defending rights in your work.