The EU Copyright Directive – important update

|

We recently ran a story outlining this important legislation aimed at protecting the use of copyrighted materials.

Simply put, the Directive would place more responsibility on commercial online content sharing services such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to make sure that copyright material is not being illegally shared on their platforms.

Until now, the onus has mostly been on the copyright holders/owners to enforce their copyright protection online, with the platforms able to disclaim any responsibility for almost limitless infringements that occur on their services… This new law will shift the responsibility onto the major platforms themselves – a critical step in helping the owners of copyright materials to derive fair value for their work!

It should come as no surprise that the major platforms are resisting this new legislation. Their overt campaign to try and stop the Directive resulted in Robert Ashcroft, CEO of PRS, writing the letter below to the Financial Times: 

“As the Chief Executive of a company that represents over 135,000 music creators, I read Susan Wojcicki’s piece in Monday’s Financial Times (YouTube chief says EU copyright plan could lead to blocked access) with a mixture of incredulity and despair.

Over the last few weeks, Ms Wojcicki has been extremely vocal in her attempts to paint Article 13 of the proposed EU Copyright Directive as the harbinger of ‘unintended consequences’ for the creator economy.

I am not at all surprised by this, because since July this year YouTube has continued to spread misinformation about Article 13 in a direct attempt to subvert the democratic process. Despite this, on September 12th members of the European Parliament voted to send the draft Copyright Directive into the final stage of its legislative journey before it passes into law.

This draft Directive is the product of over four years of debate, research, deliberation and impact assessment, during which, all stakeholders have been invited to provide evidence. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to create a fair and efficient marketplace for creative content on the Internet, which would mean that at long last those who wrote it might be fairly remunerated. Ms Wojcicki does not offer a shred of evidence to support her claims that Article 13 will harm the creative community. The music industry, on the other hand, has laid out ample evidence that current legislation, via its ‘safe harbour’ regime, favours both YouTube and other platforms to the detriment of the economy as a whole. There is no doubt that YouTube is a valuable promotional platform for performers, but that does nothing for the songwriter. This is wrong and must be corrected.

The European Commission, Council and Parliament have devoted years of effort to find a just solution to this problem, and the principle of a fair and functioning market, as embodied in Article 13, should be upheld. Rightsholders want their content to be enjoyed; they simply want to know what is being enjoyed, by how many, and that they might be paid a fair price for it.

It is imperative that the EU Parliament, Council and Commission resist what I consider to be fake news, untruths and alarmist propaganda being circulated by multi-billion-pound internet companies that have for so long unfairly profited at the expense of our creative industries”.

Yours sincerely
Robert Ashcroft
Chief Executive, PRS for Music.

Where are we?

Although versions have been passed by the European Parliament and Council respectively, the legislation has not yet been approved and implemented. An EU meeting this January will see the final wording agreed.

Assuming the Directive passes, member states are then compelled to pass their own laws to make the Directive a reality. This is a process that allows two years to take place.

Brexit?

As we understand it, the UK Government will initially implement all EU Directives of this nature and, in years to come, consider if any need amending.

Anything we can do as an industry?

Richard King, CEO of Faber Music (and a Director of MPA and PRS for Music) has confirmed that the UK creative industries, including PRS, UK Music, MPA, BASCA and BPI, along with many others, have worked together tirelessly and successfully to help move the Directive to its current position. As a result, the appalling value gap experienced to date by songwriters, composers and artists will at last begin to be corrected as platforms will be forced to negotiate a fair value for the use of music.

Anyone who cares (especially) about the protection of value for musicians and in turn the future of our industry can still lobby their local MP by following the link: www.parliament.uk/get-involved//contact-your-mp/

For more information, the original text of the Directive is here: eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/

UK Music, the trade body for the recorded, published and live arms of the British music industry, has provided a mythbuster on the Directive here: www.ukmusic.org/policy/article-13-mythbuster