Legal Guides

We use plain and simple English to give you an overview of the most common areas of law.

Copyright law – what has changed since Brexit?

What is copyright?

Put simply, it is a protection of original work of a creator’s being copied whether it is published or unpublished. This can include works from paintings and photographs to plays and dance. It also includes musical works and broadcasts such as music, clips, audio files etc. 

Protection of copyright enshrined in EU law

So, Brexit occurred 8 months ago but where has that left copyright law?

The UK’s copyright laws were written in accordance with the EU rules to ensure compliance. Now that the UK is no longer part of the EU, many people are unaware that the rules on copyright eligibility have not changed but changes to the way it is regulated have occurred.


The UK has remained a member of international copyright treaties thus the rules on copyright eligibility have not changed.

What has changed?

Copyright duration – of certain works.

Copyright of a creator’s work exists the moment a piece of work is created, and the creator can rest knowing they have protection of ownership throughout their whole lifetime. The issue of copyright usually occurs in relation to protection after the creator’s lifetime.

In the UK, with some exceptions, copyright usually lasts for 70 years after the demise of the creator.

The UK will protect copyright from non-EU countries for whichever is the shortest length, either the length of that country’s specified duration or the length of the UK’s specified duration. 

Before the UK left the EU, the UK exempted works from the EU letting the origin country determine the period of the copyright. After Brexit, EU copyright works will be dependent upon similar standards as copyright works from different nations.

Author: Zainab Zaeem-Sattar, Associate Solicitor, Summerfield Browne Solicitors

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. It is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered above, please speak to Summerfield Browne Solicitors directly

Published on 3rd August 2021
(Last updated 3rd August 2021)

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