Copyright clearance for satellite broadcasting after Brexit

Satellite broadcasters transmitting copyright works to EEA states should re-check their permissions.

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When a satellite broadcaster transmits a copyright work, for example, a film, from one EEA member state to another, they are only required to obtain the copyright holder’s permission for the state in which the broadcast originates.

This ‘country-of-origin’ principle was introduced by the Satellite and Cable Directive and avoids satellite broadcasters having to secure individual licences for every EEA state in which their broadcasts are received. For example, a UK broadcaster can transmit copyright works by satellite into Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, having agreed the copyright licence with the right holder(s) in the UK.

UK law applies the country-of-origin principle to broadcasts originating in any country in the world, except for a limited safeguard in the case of broadcasts originating outside the EEA but commissioned or uplinked to satellite from within the EEA.

Actions for UK satellite broadcasters

UK broadcasters may no longer benefit from the country-of-origin principle for broadcasts into the EEA after Brexit and might need to obtain additional right holder permissions covering the EEA states to which they broadcast.

This will depend on how the domestic legislation of each EEA member state treats broadcasts originating in non-EEA countries - for example, whether they apply the country-of-origin principle to non-EEA broadcasts, as UK law does .

UK broadcasters should:

  • check the domestic legislation of each EEA member state into which they broadcast to identify how they treat broadcasts originating in non-EEA countries
  • consider whether their licensing arrangements will need to change after Brexit to allow them to continue to broadcast into the EEA

Broadcast of works transmitted into the UK

In the UK, the country-of-origin principle will continue to be applied to broadcasts from any country.

Legitimate satellite broadcasts of copyright works transmitted into the UK from abroad will not require specific right holder permission for the UK, except where both of the following apply:

  • the broadcast is commissioned or uplinked to a satellite in the UK
  • it originates from a country that provides lower levels of copyright protection
Published 18 October 2019