Copyright clearance for UK satellite broadcasting


Last updated 30 January 2021

The country-of-origin principle for licensing of copyright material in cross-border satellite broadcasts means that when a satellite broadcaster transmits a copyright work, eg a film, from one state to another, they are only required to get the copyright holder’s permission for the state in which the broadcast originates. This avoids satellite broadcasters having to secure individual licences for every state in which their broadcasts are received.

Broadcast of works transmitted into the UK

In the UK, the country-of-origin principle applies to satellite broadcasts received from any country.

Legitimate satellite broadcasts of copyright works transmitted into the UK from abroad will not need 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

Broadcast of works transmitted from the UK into the EEA

UK broadcasters may no longer benefit from the country-of-origin principle for broadcasts into the EEA and may need to get additional rights 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 ascertain how they treat broadcasts originating in non-EEA countries
  • consider whether licensing arrangements need to be put in place

First published 26 November 2020