Rights holders from across the European Union, including the recorded music sector, music publishing, television and sport have called for a halt to the planned reforms to copyright laws saying that recent revisions to the draft legislation mean that “regrettably under these circumstances we would rather have no directive at all rather than a bad directive”. But this view ha been challenged by the actual creators of music who are taking a very different view to the corporate owners of copyrights – they still see big benefit from the Copyright Directive.
The planned legislation was first approved by the European Parliament in September 2018 but has undergone numerous revisions and amendments since then and latest draft text makes what rights holders regard as significant concessions to tech companies. The revisions came as compromises – but after continuous lobbying from the tech sector, in particular Google and YouTube. Last month music rights organisations admitted that the recently proposed versions of the Copyright Directive “[do] not meet the original objective of Article 13” – namely “correct[ing] the distortion of the digital market place caused by User Upload Content (UUC) services”. Record label trade organisations IMPALA and IFPI were specifically opposed to the latest draft text of the copyright directive, as proposed by the European Council.
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 still oblige all services to install upload filters, but would 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
In response to the ‘corporate’ rights owners new move, a number of UK organisations representing artists, songwriters and managers have urged EU decision makers to continue working on the Directive. The Council Of Music Makers – that brings together BASCA, FAC, MMF, MPG and the MU – called on negotiators “to proceed with the copyright directive”, adding that “we speak with one voice with all the creator-led organisations across Europe and around the world in supporting the copyright directive”.
Really? Maybe the record labels (in particular) have begun to take note of Articles 14 through to Article 16 which will seek to provide artists and songwriters with more transparency, a contract adjustment mechanism and a dispute resolution system and ever – dare we say – equitable remuneration. And a business might not want to support that. Hmmmmm! So more money from YouTube – that’s all good – but passing some of that on to recording artistes and songwriters – not so good!
Well the message in the open letter from the ‘business’ side reads as follows:
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
A different approach can be found in the open letter from GESAC, primarily representing music creators – songwriters and author’s collection societies – in the areas of musical, audiovisual, visual arts, and literary and dramatic works. This is the first time the ‘music industry’ has split – and moved away from one unified voice – although IMPALA qualified it’s support in later communications. The ‘creatives’ say this:
As the negotiations on the copyright directive enter their final and very critical stage, GESAC, which represents more than one million creators from all sectors through its 32 members from across the EU and EEA, would like to express its strong support for this directive which is essential for the future of creators.
The directive as a whole – and in particular the provisions in article thirteen – creates the long sought after level playing field for creative content in the online market.
It also addresses the major unfairness caused by the enormous ‘transfer of value’ that favours free-riding tech giants, while it also incentivises European creation, innovation, and investment. The current text is a compromise that goes into the right direction, although further improvements still need to be achieved. You will find enclosed GESAC’s priorities and suggestions on the text in this respect.
Without this directive, creators will be entirely deprived of any means to get a fair remuneration in the online environment: the market will be entirely driven by the commercial interests of free-riding tech giants. This would be a fundamental failure for European policy-making and the functioning of our democracy, as it can only be interpreted as an endorsement of the unfair and manipulative practices of tech giants that refuse any rules or oversight.
It is now time to adopt a mandate at [the EU Council meeting] on February 8th and an agreement on the directive in trilogue early next week to send the right message to European citizens: the EU delivers for its people and its values!
We trust your thorough political judgment and sense of fairness will prevail to finalise the last step of this process and remain at your disposal for any complementary clarifications.
the open letter from CMM, the UK’s Council of Music Makers, says this:
The UK Council Of Music Makers – comprising BASCA, FAC, MMF, MPG and the MU – call on negotiators to proceed with the copyright directive.
We are the voice of UK songwriters, music producers, performing artists, musicians and music managers. We speak on behalf of thousands of makers of the music this ‘industry’ represents. We speak with one voice with all the creator-led organisations across Europe and around the world in supporting the copyright directive.
While the current text could be improved and still includes some problematic provisions, it is a compromise. At every step of this process the creative community has sought compromise and been open to dialogue.
Most creators and artists in the UK struggle to make a living from music. Without this directive, creators will be entirely deprived of any means to get a fair remuneration in the online environment: the market will be entirely driven by the commercial interests of free-riding tech giants. This would be a fundamental failure for European policy-making and the functioning of our democracy, as it can only be interpreted as an endorsement of the unfair and manipulative practices of some tech giants that refuse any responsibility.
We make the music that people want to listen to and buy. It is our intellectual property and our rights and we need the copyright directive to put in place reasonable and fair safeguards.
It is hugely disappointing to see the music labels and publishers disregard the interests of their creators and artists in this way. They are trying to overturn years of collaborative work at the eleventh hour by killing the copyright directive. Like YouTube, they have lobbied negotiators hard without consulting or informing the creative community. Heavy-handed tactics of heavyweight businesses.
It is sad to see labels and publishers turn on their creators and artists in this way. They are trying to halt the directive not only because of the latest wording of article thirteen but because they want to avoid the improvements to transparency and fairness that articles fourteen to sixteen bring. We are saddened that the short-term commercial interests of these companies can be put before modernisation of copyright legislation that will benefit the whole industry.
The labels and publishers have shown an unsettling disrespect for the talent that they have the privilege of representing, raising serious questions about their suitability to be the custodians of copyright. We have worked in tandem with UK Music and colleagues across the industry to find compromise and solutions that enable legislation to pass. This directive will affect future generations of creators and performers whose interests need protecting beyond the interests of current models.
We have been engaged and willing to negotiate, and we remain engaged and progressing in good faith, with both tech and industry. We have not given up on this important legislation.
We call on UK government and UK Music to support the adoption of the copyright directive.