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Jean-Michel Jarre leads call for European Parliament to “shape a fairer digital market”

By | Published on Thursday 8 February 2018

European Commission

As all the copyright directive chitter chatter continues in Brussels, musicians Jean-Michel Jarre and Angelique Kidjo have both put their names to an open letter to the European Parliament urging MEPs to back safe harbour reform.

The draft copyright directive spent all of last year working its way through the motions with a flurry of amendments being proposed. There are various articles in the directive of relevance to the music community, though it is the clause that seeks to reform the safe harbour that has got the most attention. This, of course, seeks to increase the liabilities of user-upload websites like YouTube, mainly to strengthen the negotiating hand of music rights owners so to force up the royalties the Google video sites pays.

While all that has been going on, YouTube has entered into new licensing deals with the majors, and on the back of that some record label execs seem to be warming to the big bad Google business once again. Though that didn’t stop a stack of music industry trade bodies signing a recent letter to the new EU presidency, urging it to back safe harbour reform as the copyright directive reaches its final stages.

Jarre and Kidjo have now written to the European Parliament in their guise as President and Vice-President of CISAC, the global grouping that brings together all the song right repping performing rights organisations around the world. The CISAC membership also includes some collecting societies representing other creative sectors, so this week’s letter was also signed by visual artist Miquel Barcelo and film directors Marcelo Pineyro and Jia Zhang-ke, who are all also VPs of CISAC.

In their letter to all those MEPs, they write: “The proposals by the European Commission, currently being discussed in the European Parliament, are among the most important copyright reforms of the last 20 years in Europe. They are a first step in the right direction, offering a historic opportunity to bring fairer remuneration for creators and drive economic growth and jobs in the creative industries”.

Honing in on safe harbour reform and the music industry’s ‘value gap’ campaign, the letter goes on: “In particular, Europe now has a chance to address the ‘transfer of value’ or ‘value gap’ which is caused by loopholes in the law allowing some of the world’s largest digital platforms to deny fair remuneration to millions of creators. To do this effectively, it is essential for the legislation to ensure fair remuneration by user uploaded content platforms such as YouTube. EU law should not be a shield to allow such platforms to make vast revenues from creative works while not fairly rewarding the creators”.

Noting that CISAC – as a global organisation – is hoping Europe can lead on all this, they add: “The proposed copyright reform puts Europe in a unique position of international leadership. As creators representing regions around the world – Africa, Asia, North and South America and Europe – we are watching events in Brussels with great hope. We know that our governments are also monitoring the situation very closely and may follow up with similar laws”.

In conclusion, Jarre et al state: “Thousands of artists and authors within Europe have already voiced their solidarity with the European Commission’s proposals. We now send our own message of encouragement to take this legislation to its full potential. Members of Parliament, we ask you to take this opportunity to shape a fairer digital market for creators in the 21st century”.