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Music organisations reject EU Copyright Directive

Representatives from the music industry claim current proposal “would cause serious harm”, with elements that “fundamentally go against” EU and intl copyright principles

By Anna Grace on 08 Feb 2019

Article 13

European Parliament


A collective of European creative industry businesses and rightsholders, including several music organisations, are calling on negotiators to halt proceedings on the current European Copyright Directive.

The International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP), International Federation of the phonographic industry (IFPI) and Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA) are among the signatories of an open letter warning against the European Council’s latest drafts for the Copyright Directive, which they believe grants too large a concession to technology companies.

The music organisations join representatives from the audio-visual, broadcasting and sports industries in the “group of rightsholders” signing the letter. The group claims that the current text “no longer meets these [originally agreed] objectives, not only in respect of any one article, but as a whole.”

“The key aims of the original draft Directive were to create a level playing field in the online Digital Single Market and strengthen the ability of European rightsholders to create and invest in new and diverse content across Europe,” reads the statement.

“Far from levelling the playing field, the proposed approach would cause serious harm by not only failing to meet its objectives, but actually risking leaving European producers, distributors and creators worse off.”

“Far from levelling the playing field, the proposed approach would cause serious harm risking leaving European producers, distributors and creators worse off”

The organisations state that “no directive at all” is preferable to a “bad directive”, and call on negotiators not to continue on the basis of the Council’s latest proposals.

Last month, lawmakers cancelled a scheduled approval meeting for the directive, as the European Council failed to reach an agreement surrounding controversial Article 13. The most recent amendments are the result of a compromise between France and Germany.

Under the agreement, Article 13 applies to all for-profit online sharing platforms, compelling services to take “effective and proportionate” action to combat the sharing of copyrighted works. The amendment would oblige all services to install upload filters, except those fitting all three following criteria:

  • The service has been publicly available within the EU for fewer than three years
  • The service has an annual turnover below 10 million
  • The service has fewer than five million unique monthly visitors

The European Parliament voted to accept an updated version of the Copyright Directive in September, in a move celebrated by collection societies, PROs, publishers and music industry associations. The legislation then went to the European Council for final revision.

“Under these conditions, we would rather have no Directive at all than a bad Directive”

The update included the approval of controversial Article 13, putting the onus on online platforms to combat the sharing of copyrighted works, by filtering posts or requiring licenses for user-generated content.

Opponents to the article, notably large technology companies, argue that it would “mandate internet platforms to embed an automated infrastructure for monitoring and censorship deep into their networks.”

For ICMP chair Chris Butler, Article 13 is “necessary to redress the grotesque imbalance music publishers face online.”

The Council Of Music Makers – that brings together the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), Music Managers Forum (MMF), Music Producers Guild (MPG) and the Musicians’ Union (MU) – has called on negotiators “to proceed with the copyright directive”, adding that “while the current text could be improved and still includes some problematic provisions, it is a compromise.” The Council criticises the collective’s call to halt proceedings.

The collective’s full letter can be read below:

We are writing as a group of rightsholders representing the music, audio-visual, broadcasting and sports industries, regarding the direction of travel for the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

The key aims of the original draft Directive were to create a level playing field in the online Digital Single Market and strengthen the ability of European rightsholders to create and invest in new and diverse content across Europe.

Despite our constant commitment in the last two years to finding a viable solution, and having proposed many positive alternatives, the text – as currently drafted and on the table – no longer meets these objectives, not only in respect of any one article, but as a whole. As rightsholders we are not able to support it or the impact it will have on the European creative sector.

We appreciate the efforts made by several parties to attempt to achieve a good compromise in the long negotiations of recent months. Nevertheless, the outcome of these negotiations in several of the Council discussions has been to produce a text which contains elements which fundamentally go against copyright principles enshrined in EU and international copyright law.

Far from levelling the playing field, the proposed approach would cause serious harm by not only failing to meet its objectives, but actually risking leaving European producers, distributors and creators worse off.

Regrettably, under these conditions we would rather have no Directive at all than a bad Directive. We therefore call on negotiators to not proceed on the basis of the latest proposals from the Council.

Yours sincerely, the undersigned.

ACT – Association of Commercial Television in Europe
AKTV – Czech Association of Commercial Television
DFL – German Football League
ICMP – The Global Voice of Music Publishing
IFPI – Representing the Recording Industry Worldwide
IMPALA – Independent Music Companies
Association La Liga – The Spanish Football League
Mediapro – Independent Production Company
The Premier League – The English Football League
Związek Pracodawców Prywatnych Mediów – Polish Union of Private Media Employers, Lewiatan

 


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