Copyright Changes 2021 UK Guidance

Changes to copyright law from 1 January 2021

This guidance covers the impacts on UK right holders, businesses, cultural heritage institutions and consumers. It is not legal advice.

The UK has left the EU

This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It’ll be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

This guidance sets out how UK copyright law will change from 1 January 2021, subject to any changes under the future UK-EU relationship. It is not legal advice. You should get legal advice where you have specific questions relating to the law.


Copyright is a national right that each country provides separately. However, copyright is largely harmonised internationally by a number of treaties and, in the EU, by a body of EU copyright legislation that builds on the international treaties.

A substantial part of UK copyright law is derived from the EU copyright framework. Because of this, there are references in UK law to the EU, the EEA, and member states. Some of these references occur in the UK’s implementation of EU cross-border copyright arrangements. These arrangements apply only within the EU and EEA and provide reciprocal protections and benefits between member states.

To address these issues, we introduced the Intellectual Property (Copyright and Related Rights) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019(Intellectual Property (Copyright and Related Rights) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019) under the powers of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

These regulations remove or correct references to the EU, EEA, or member states in UK copyright legislation to preserve the effect of UK law where possible.

The reciprocal cross-border arrangements will be amended or brought to an end, as appropriate. The regulations are due to come into force on 1 January 2021. During the transition period, the EU and UK will negotiate a new relationship. Depending on the outcome of these negotiations, these regulations may be amended.

Most UK copyright works (such as books, films and music) will still be protected in the EU and the UK because of the UK’s participation in the international treaties on copyright.

For the same reason, EU copyright works will continue to be protected in the UK. This applies to works made before and after 1 January 2021.