ALCS reaction to the Liberal Democrat manifesto

The Liberal Democrats stated they would “support modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules”. We welcome the Liberal Democrats’ pledges to support the creative industries with support for copyright and licensing.

Ahead of the general election on 4 July, the Liberal Democrats have announced a series of key policies to support UK creators. These include boosting funding for cultural and creative projects, promoting creative skills, facilitating travel for artists and protecting the BBC.

While we may yet hear further details about the party’s approach to copyright and licensing, we hope that the Liberal Democrats will continue to promote the importance of copyright and licensing to authors and defend the UK’s well-balanced copyright regime. To avoid significant harms that may arise from the exploitation of AI, we will need a system that rewards and invests in UK creativity, while also ensuring that they are fairly represented and compensated, making it clear that licences are required to use copyrighted content in AI.

The Liberal Democrats have vowed to promote innovation while creating certainty for AI users, developers and investors, but creators whose works are used for AI must also be included in that list. Authors must have transparency, control and remuneration.

With 2,681 journalism jobs lost in 2023, up 48% from 2022, it is also crucial that the next Parliament addresses the significant transfer of value away from publishers and journalists to platforms and other technology companies, as a result of news scraping and AI training.

ALCS will call on the next Parliament to support collaboration between tech companies, news publishers and journalists to help develop collective agreements to reset this imbalance and establish a fair share of revenues for freelance journalists, who produced this value through their work. The Government is already establishing a Digital Markets Unit with powers to intervene in this area, so we would welcome any succeeding Government to continue this approach and boost its capabilities even further to protect creatives.

The Liberal Democrats have also vowed to promote creative skills and address barriers to finance. One major barrier for creatives across the UK is the inaccessibility of freelancing as a sustainable career route. ALCS is calling for the introduction of a Freelancer Commissioner to help shape policy for the self-employed within the creative sector, acting as an avenue for dialogue and learning within Government.

Any party that is dedicated to promoting creative skills and tackling barriers to sustainable careers in the creative industries must support a representative in Government who can speak on behalf of freelancers and recommend policy and legislation in their interest. ALCS has received much support on this, with the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee publishing a report in April backing calls for the Freelancer Commissioner.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto calls for greater support for the creative and tourism industries so that people everywhere can enjoy the benefits of creative pursuits, and a boost to creative and cultural funding across the UK. The Smart Fund would allow for a significant and impactful boost to creators’ lives everywhere, raising £300 million for creatives each year, while not imposing a cost on consumers.

The upcoming election will be a crucial moment for the future of the sector, as struggling creatives everywhere call for the next Government to back fair remuneration, strong copyright and licensing, and livable wages.

ALCS Chief Executive Barbara Hayes says “We are glad to see that attention is being paid to the importance of copyright and licensing. With the creative industries continuing to grow, it is important that our next Government supports the work needed to ensure authors receive fair remuneration however their work is used.”

Read our manifesto to learn more about our campaign work.

Visit The Write Share to learn about the remuneration solutions a new Government should support.

Read the full Culture, Media and Sport report supporting our calls for a Freelancer Commissioner and Smart Fund here.