Following the result of the 2016 referendum, the Prime Minister triggered Article 50 on 29th March 2017 beginning the process by which the UK would leave the EU. The UK was expected to leave the EU on the 29th March 2019, however following two extensions to the deadline, the UK could leave at any time between now and the 31st October 2019.
PRS for Music is continually assessing the possible impacts of leaving the EU on our operations, our staff, the rights we represent and, of course, our members. These impacts will vary considerably depending upon the terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU, specifically the extent of any trade barriers, any limitations on the movement of people and the relationship between EU and UK laws. Currently, there is little certainty about the nature of this relationship and there remains a risk that the UK will leave the EU with neither a deal nor a transitional period agreed, resulting in a so-called ‘no deal Brexit’.
PRS for Music is putting in place mitigation measures to ensure that we can continue to operate effectively on behalf of our members, whatever the terms of our exit from the EU.
PRS has published a special notice on the potential impacts of Brexit on satellite broadcasting:
29 March 2017: Article 50 triggeredThe Prime Minister triggered Article 50 which began the time-limited process of the UK leaving the EU.
23 January 2018: Brexit & Creative Industries report published
The DCMS Select Committee published its report on ‘The potential impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the digital single market’. The paper outlines a series of recommendations to the government including access to EU funding, copyright legislation and flexible travel for musicians.
2 March 2018: PM Theresa May’s speech
The PM’s speech set out the government’s Brexit position, and made reference to broadcasting regulatory policy and the need for reciprocal agreements with the EU. The PM also stated that any agreement must cover intellectual property to ensure legal certainty and coherence.
24 September 2018: UK government guidance on Brexit
The government published guidance on the status of copyright law in the event of a no deal Brexit. The guidance notes that the basic rules of copyright protection will remain unchanged, but some reciprocal systems would be affected.
14 November 2018: Publication of the draft withdrawal agreement
The deal reached between the UK Government and the EU negotiators on the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU was published along with the outline political declaration.
On 11th April 2019, the EU 27 agreed to grant a flexible extension, extending the Article 50 process until 31st October, with the caveat that if at any time during that period a Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by the UK Parliament, the extension comes to an end. However, if no agreement has been reached and the EU declines to grant another extension, then the UK will leave the EU on the 31st October without a deal.
Europe is the largest market for UK music, will leaving the EU have an effect on the flow of royalties to members or make them more expensive to collect?
Europe is the largest market representing around 60% of PRS’s total international income, but we collect royalties for the use of members’ work from all over the world.
Royalties flow via individual agreements between societies based on agreements of a contractual nature; these agreements are not dependent on the UK’s membership of the EU or any trade deals. Individual tax arrangements, such as the rules on withholding tax are negotiated separately from the European Union so there is nothing to suggest substantive change in that area.
We are, therefore, not predicting any new barriers to collecting royalties from the EU on behalf of PRS for Music members.
PRS for Music performer members based in the UK can currently tour in Europe without the need for visas or carnets, will it be easy to tour once we have left the EU?
It is very unlikely that performers will be able to tour Europe as freely once the UK has left the EU.
Having left the EU, the UK will cease to be a part of the single market and will cease to benefit from the freedom of movement, in keeping with the Government’s stated intention to end freedom of movement and give the UK greater control of immigration into the country. As a result, UK citizens should expect to face reciprocal restrictions when entering EU countries, perhaps even the requirement to obtain a visa.
Ending the free of movement of people also means ending the free movement of goods, and any restrictions on the movement of physical goods in to and out of the EU and UK will require checks at the borders. These checks would also apply to touring equipment. The extent of these restrictions remains undetermined but PRS for Music, in partnership with the wider music industry, are calling for specific solutions for UK artists touring in the EU.
Creators’ rights are protected by European Law, when the UK leaves the EU will these protections no longer apply?
The UK’s copyright law is determined at a European level and then implemented into national law by the UK government. This means that the existing rights and protections are already enshrined in UK law and the government has indicated that it has no plans to change them at this time. Even in the future, should the UK decide to amend the existing copyright rules, it has only limited scope to do so as it must comply with international treaty obligations, such as the Berne Convention and TRIPS Agreement. These obligations provide minimum standards for the protection of rights, albeit standards which are lower than UK rightsholders currently enjoy.
After Brexit, we will work closely with the UK government to ensure these protections are upheld and where necessary strengthened.
As a PRS for Music member living in Europe will I need to move my rights to a European society?
No. PRS for Music provides services to songwriters, composers and publishers around the world and will continue to do so after we leave the EU, including members based in our agency territories, Malta and Cyprus. Royalties will continue to flow from services operating in the EU through national societies back to PRS and on to our members. The flow of royalties to PRS members, wherever they live, will not be limited by the UK leaving the EU.