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MPs call for copyright changes and new champion for freelancers to improve precarious pay and working conditions in creative industries

10 April 2024

Many successful musicians, actors, writers and visual artists are struggling to make a living due to gaps in copyright protection, a lack of support for freelancers and unpredictable returns from music streaming, MPs warn today.

A report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee highlights the precarious rates of pay and employment conditions faced by many working in the creative industries and calls on the Government to ensure creators are compensated when people copy or move content such as songs to or between their devices (known as private copying). It also recommends that a Freelancers’ Commissioner be established.

The Committee warns that the current lack of a private copying scheme, which would ensure creators are paid when content is shared on digital devices, is not only preventing them from receiving payments from the UK market but also from abroad, due to a lack of reciprocity with other countries.

On support for freelancers and the self-employed, which make up a significant minority of the creative workforce, the report says a Freelancers’ Commissioner should work across departments and have powers to advocate in the interests of creative freelancers and address wider issues around contracts and working conditions.

Following on from previous Committee reports on the impact of artificial intelligence and the economics of music streaming, the report also calls for action to ensure creators are compensated when their works are used by AI systems and for the Government to do more to make sure music makers are paid fairly.

Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, Chair of the CMS Committee, said: “Many of our talented actors, writers, composers and singers are failing to share in the global success of the UK’s creative industries as the sector struggles to navigate a perfect storm caused by everything from the emergence of AI through to the rapid changes in the way content is consumed.

If creators are no longer to be the poor relations, the Government needs to play catch up by plugging the gaps in outdated copyright and intellectual property regulations and ensuring that there is a champion for the rights of freelancers, who make such a vital contribution to their industries.

Since the Committee called for a complete reset of the music streaming industry to ensure a fairer split of revenues, there have been moves in the right direction, but the Government needs to move further and faster to ensure music makers really are properly rewarded for their work.”

For a full list of conclusions and recommendations, see page p42 of the report.

Further information

Image: House of Commons