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Final draft in hand, music industry reps call on EU law-makers to pass the European Copyright Directive

By | Published on Thursday 21 February 2019

European Commission

With the final, final, final draft of the European Copyright Directive being circulated around stakeholders earlier this week, organisations representing independent labels and publishers, and songwriters and their collecting societies, have published a letter calling on the EU Council and European Parliament to now vote through the copyright reforms.

Reps for the European Commission, EU Council and European Parliament agreed a final version of the directive last week via their so called trilogue negotiations. It must now be passed by the full Council and Parliament.

There are still plenty of critics of the proposals, especially within the tech sector. And especially over the music industry backed article thirteen, which will reform the copyright safe harbour and increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube.

The music community did a pretty good job of presenting a united front on article thirteen, especially once YouTube’s lobbyists went into overdrive late last year.

Though in the very final stages of the negotiations there was a split within the music industry, with groups representing labels and publishers saying they were sufficiently concerned about last minute edits that they wanted the whole directive to be abandoned. Meanwhile artists and songwriters, who will benefit from other elements of the new rules, not just article thirteen, called on law makers to see the project through to completion.

However, indie label repping IMPALA and the Independent Music Publishers International Forum were among the organisations yesterday calling for the directive to now be adopted, the former insisting that – by expressing those late-in-the-day concerns – some further edits were made that improved the final draft from the music industry’s perspective. The European Composer And Songwriter Alliance, and collecting society groups CISAC and GESAC, also signed yesterday’s statement, as did bodies repping other copyright industries.

The statement reads: “We, the undersigned organisations, representing authors, composers, writers, journalists, photographers and others working in all artistic fields, news agencies, book, press and music publishers, audiovisual and independent music producers, call on the Council Of The European Union and the European Parliament to adopt the Directive On Copyright In The Digital Single Market”.

It went on: “This directive has been long sought to create a much-needed level playing field for all actors of the creative sector in the European Digital Single Market, whilst giving citizens better access to a wider array of content. This is a historical opportunity. We need an internet that is fair and sustainable for all. This is why we urge policymakers to adopt the directive quickly, as agreed in trilogue negotiations”.

Trade groups speaking for the major record companies and music publishers were not signatories to the letter. Instead global record industry trade group IFPI issued a less committal statement on the final draft of the directive and article thirteen, though it still found some positives in what has been achieved.

The group’s CEO Frances Moore said: “We acknowledge the efforts made by lawmakers to try to find a way through such a complex area. Certain of the article thirteen provisions of the copyright directive are notable. This is the first legislation confirming that user-upload content platforms perform an act of communication to the public and must seek authorisation from rightsholders or make sure that there is no unauthorised content available on their platforms. The directive also includes a ‘stay down’ provision requiring platforms to keep unlicensed content down – another first”.

It’s thought the EU Council will probably wave the final draft of the directive through, though MEPs will be on the receiving end of another barrage of emails and calls from the tech lobby ahead of the vote in Parliament. So, one more hurdle to go.

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