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European business reacts to Copyright Directive approval

The music industry welcomes news that online platforms are to be held responsible for content uploaded by their users. Good news for creators or a 'dark day' for the web?

By IQ on 26 Mar 2019

The European parliament in Strasbourg

The European parliament in Strasbourg

By a margin of 348 to 274, members of the European parliament today approved the European Copyright Directive, including the controversial Article 13 (now Article 17) provision which has proved such a bone of contention between music and the wider tech world.

Article 13/17 would compel “online content sharing service providers”, such as social networks or video-sharing sites like YouTube, to take “effective and proportionate” measures – ie automatic filters – to combat the sharing of copyrighted works.

Ahead of an earlier defeat of the directive, on 5 July 2018, music bodies and their counterparts in the tech sector were sharply divided on the merits of the new directive – songwriters’ representatives said the legislation would ensure fair remuneration of creators when their works are used online, while internet freedom activists, such as the web’s creator, Tim Berners Lee, said it would transform the internet into a “tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users” – and the gulf only widened in the run-up to the vote. (Compare, for example, the statements below with that of German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, who describes the vote as a “dark day for internet freedom”.)

It now falls to individual EU member states to implement the directive at a national level.

Below are a selection of music industry responses to today’s vote.


Gadi Oron, director-general, Cisac
“The European Union has laid the foundation for a better and fairer digital environment – one in which creators will be in a stronger position to negotiate fair license fees when their works are used by big online platforms. This is a hugely important achievement not just for Europe, but for the millions of creators which CISAC represents across the world.

“We are grateful to all those in the European institutions who have tirelessly worked on this directive and hope that it will lead the way for countries outside the EU to follow”.

“The EU has laid the foundation for a better and fairer digital environment”

Jean-Noël Tronc, CEO, Sacem
“The European directive on authors’ rights is the first stone to rebuild the digital and cultural sovereignty of Europe. It is the result of a common fight of all the forces of culture, whose alliance provided the strength!”

Jean-Marie Moreau, chairman, Sacem
“Thank you to all the authors, composers, music publishers who have tirelessly rallied with us and all their professional organisations for this great mobilisation that has borne fruit. Sacem is proud to have been at the forefront of a vital struggle for culture.”

“The decision emits a very important signal: Europe is in a position to create fair rules for the digital world”

Harald Heker, CEO, Gema
“The European parliament has declared itself in favour of strengthening the culture and creative industries. The parliamentarians thus have laid the foundation for a contemporary copyright. The decision emits a very important signal: namely that Europe is in a position to create fair rules for the digital world. The new directive strengthens and protects creators in many areas. In this context, the overall objective of Article 17 (former Article 13) is that content protected by copyright can be made available on online platforms. In return, creators are to receive a fair remuneration for the exploitation of their works.

“We thank all European parliamentarians who have stood up for the directive over the last years. The next step is that it has to be implemented by national legislators: We do sincerely hope that this is going to take place in a constructive setting. Critical voices must not be tuned out. In turn, positive elements and improvements of the directive must be communicated more clearly as it has been the case so far. We would like to accompany this important dialogue constructively and objectively.”

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to recalibrate Europe’s digital economy”

Annabella Coldrick, CEO, Music Managers Forum (UK)
“This is really positive news. The MMF has stood with the rest of the music industry, and alongside our colleagues in the European Music Managers Alliance and the Council of Music Makers, to push for these vital updates to copyright law. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to recalibrate Europe’s digital economy to ensure artists are fairly remunerated.

“Alongside Article 13, today’s directive also offers a raft of changes that will empower artists and creators, ensuring they have greater transparency and leverage in their licensing and contractual partnerships. For the creative community, these amendments in Articles 14–16 are also of the utmost importance.

“It is now crucial that UK legislators act constructively to make good on their promises and implement these changes in full, and at the earliest opportunity.”

“This is about modernising the internet and it’s a massive step forward”

Robert Ashcroft, chief executive, PRS for Music
 “This is about creating a fair and functioning market for creative works of all kinds on the internet. It’s about making sure that ordinary people can upload videos and music to platforms like YouTube without being held liable for copyright – that responsibility will henceforth be transferred to the platforms.

“This is about modernising the internet and it’s a massive step forward for consumers and creators alike.”

“This is a landmark day for Europe’s creators and citizens, and a significant step towards a fairer internet”

Helen Smith, executive chair, Impala
“This is a landmark day for Europe’s creators and citizens, and a significant step towards a fairer internet. Platforms facilitate a unique relationship between artists and fans, and this will be given a boost as a result of this directive. It will have a ripple effect world wide.

“The fact that the artists spoke amid so much anti-copyright harassment online is impressive. Parliamentarians did not let themselves be intimated and had the courage to vote this text through. Thanks to all who were involved in crafting such a balanced outcome. It is now for member states to reconfirm their approval of the directive.”

“The Copyright Directive … will hurt Europe’s creative and digital economies”

“The Copyright Directive is improved but will still lead to legal uncertainty and will hurt Europe’s creative and digital economies. The details matter, and we look forward to working with policymakers, publishers, creators and rightsholders as EU member states move to implement these new rules.”

“We extend our appreciation to MEPs across party lines and EU member states for their hard work”

Chris Butler, chair of the board, ICMP
“We extend our appreciation to MEPs across party lines and EU member states for their hard work through this challenging legislative process. We are grateful for important provisions supporting songwriters and composers, recognising that music must be given its rightful value.

“We’re particularly pleased to secure sector-specific safeguards for music publishers in Articles 4 and 12. These battles were hard-fought, amount to crucial wins for music in Europe and are particularly important for our independent publisher members.”

John Phelan, director-general, ICMP
“Four years of titanic tussling later, our work to solve the ‘value gap’ now begins a new stage after this vote. Namely, to ensure that those who make the music make a fair return. ICMP will keep working with all European governments to transpose this law appropriately. ‘Safe harbours’ must not become archipelagos for platforms to devalue music. Today redoubles our determination in that mission.”


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