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European PROs drum up support before second Article 13 vote

With Europe for Creators, Europe's rights bodies hope to sway opinion in favour of the EU Copyright Directive ahead of the second vote on 12 September

By Jon Chapple on 30 Aug 2018

Véronique Desbrosses, Gesac, Europe for Creators

image © Gesac

Global music rights bodies, including the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (Cisac), European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (Gesac) and International Council of Music Authors (CIAM), today launched Europe for Creators, a new venture aimed at securing a vote in favour of the controversial EU Copyright Directive on 12 September.

The second vote follows an earlier defeat for the bill, on 5 July, which was met with disappointment by much of the music industry. Music industry bodies, especially collection societies/performance rights organisations, and their counterparts in the tech sector are sharply divided on the merits of the new directive, especially its controversial Article 13: songwriters’ representatives say the legislation would ensure fair remuneration of creators when their works are used online, while internet freedom activists, including the web’s creator, Tim Berners Lee, have said it would transform the internet into a “tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.

Article 13, if passed, would compel “online content sharing service providers”, such as social networks or video-sharing sites like YouTube, to take “effective and proportionate” measures to combat the sharing of copyrighted works.

Internet freedom activists claim this would effectively ban memes – the internet fads, often in the form of a humorous picture or video overlaid with text, that spread virally across the web – leading creators to repackage popular memes sans copyrighted material, to highlight what they see as the absurdity of the proposed legislation.

This, however, is not true, says Europe for Creators: memes and animated gifs are already protected under existing legislation, Directive 2001/29/EC, with companies such as Google – the owner of YouTube, a platform frequently targeted by those wishing to close the ‘value gap’ between the online use of music and payment of creators – simply wishing to “hide” from their responsibilities to fairly compensate authors.

“We have enriched the lives of Europeans, and now we are calling on Europe to act”

In a launch statement, Europe for Creators says it calls on “all citizens to preserve culture and democracy in Europe” in the face of what it calls a “massive lobbying campaign” by tech companies, who, it is alleged, are profiting from the use of music online without fairly remunerating creators.

“Digital economic powers continue to profit as working artists struggle to make ends meet,” says Véronique Desbrosses (pictured), Gesac’s general manager. “The balance between the revenues generated by internet platforms and the money they give to the creators who are responsible for their success is entirely distorted.”

In the coming days, the coalition will send an open letter to all members of the European parliament, “activat[ing] them in this fight”, as well as organising “strike events” to take place in several European cities in the run-up to the vote.

“The creative and cultural industry in the European Union represents €536 billion per year, more than the combined revenue of the automotive and telecoms sectors, and is responsible for 12 million jobs,” says Desbrosses. “We have enriched the lives of Europeans, and now we are calling on Europe to act.”


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