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Artists and songwriters urge EU to bring Copyright Directive to “a successful conclusion”

By | Published on Tuesday 12 February 2019

European Commission

As conversations resume to try and agree a final, final draft of the European Copyright Directive, another flurry of groups representing the creative industries issued a statement yesterday urging the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Council to plough on and get the copyright reforming directive to the finish line.

Among the signatories were groups representing artists, songwriters and song right collecting societies across Europe.

Until last week the music industry had done a good job of speaking as one when campaigning for the directive, and especially for the safe harbour reforming article thirteen that aims to increase the liabilities of user-upload sites like YouTube.

Then on Thursday trade bodies repping record labels and music publishers announced they were unhappy with the direction the directive had taken in recent weeks and now wanted the whole project to be abandoned.

Groups speaking for artists and songwriters quickly issued their own statement saying that they still supported the directive and wanted the EU to proceed with the final negotiations. The UK’s Council Of Music Makers said that the labels and publishers had in part changed their position because of amendments to articles fourteen to sixteen, which will increase the rights of artist and songwriters, mainly against their music industry partners.

Then IMPALA, speaking for the indie label community, which had joined the Thursday call for the directive to be called off, said that it still hoped a final version of the directive could address the issues its members have with the most recent edits, which have mainly occurred within the EU Council.

Yesterday’s statement was signed by GESAC and CISAC, which speak for the song right collecting societies; ECSA, which brings together songwriters and composers across Europe; and global artist and musician groupings FIM and IAO.

It also argued that further changes still need to be made at the final stage – aka the trilogue phase – as Commission, Parliament and Council merge the versions of the directive they have each respectively compiled. But, the statement insisted, the directive was still a crucial way to fix problems in the digital music market.

The letter – also signed by reps for the news, media and film industries – told negotiators in the EU that “we urge you to work constructively to improve and to adopt the copyright directive … at this week’s trilogue meetings”.

It then said that the version of the directive agreed by the EU Council on Friday was “a crucial step towards the directive’s adoption, even though further improvements are needed to make the text truly meaningful for the cultural and creative sectors”.

Going over some old ground, the letter continued: “This directive has been long sought to create a necessary level playing field for all creative sectors in the European digital single market, whilst giving consumers better access to more content in a secure environment. Without the directive, creators will be left with no guarantee of obtaining a fair remuneration online and our sectors will be subject to great legal uncertainty regarding future practices”.

Therefore, the statement concluded, work on completing the directive must continue. Whatever other players in the music community may say. “Failing to adopt the directive”, the letter declared, “would mean missing a historic opportunity, be extremely detrimental to European culture, and also represent a fundamental failure for European policymaking”.

“The time has come to make the final effort to improve the text and reach an agreement at the trilogue”, it went on. “It is time to show that the European Union cares for its citizens, creators, values and cultural diversity and can stand up to protect them. We trust that your thoughtful political judgment and sense of fairness will prevail to bring this legislative process to a successful conclusion”.

That was quite a rallying speech at the end, wasn’t it? It remains to be seen how EU law-makers now proceed, what last minute interventions are attempted by YouTube, and whether recent divisions in the music community ultimately empower the tech lobby. Should be an interesting week.

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