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UK must enshrine EU copyright rules to protect performers’ pay, says Equity

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The government is to be lobbied to protect performers from being exploited financially by enshrining European Union copyright rules into UK law.

It comes after a motion to implement the directive fully into UK law, put forward at the Trades Union Congress by Equity, was passed unanimously.

The EU Copyright Directive, which was introduced earlier this year, offers three main protections for performers.

These include the right to “appropriate and proportionate remuneration” for their work – in proportion to the revenue generated rather than what has been negotiated in their contract.

The directive also outlines an obligation for transparency from employers – meaning performers have a right to know how much income is generated from their work, and it enables performers to adjust their contracts and claim extra renumeration if under-compensated.

Stephen Spence, Equity’s deputy for the general secretary, said: “If those principles are enshrined in UK law in the way they are in the [EU] directive, they will enable performers to have a better chance of getting a decent and reasonable renumeration rather than, for example, with a buy-out contract, which would seek to pay a single fee.

“This will give some additional protections and the fact that Brexit is on the horizon means we’re uncertain which direction this will go.”

Spence said that if the directive was not enshrined in UK law, performers would be left open to exploitation.

“If it isn’t implemented into UK law, that will be one of the first examples of UK performers having a second-class situation in Europe,” Spence added.

The EU directive applies to any use of a performer’s work, which in theatre could include a DVD release of a performance or cast albums.

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