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Music’s Article 13 meltdown: read the two industry-body letters in full


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Two open letters published this week have laid bare new divisions within the music industry over the proposed new European copyright directive – and its Article 13 section dealing with user-uploaded content platforms like YouTube.

Yesterday, a letter whose signatories included the IFPI and Impala (representing labels) and ICMP (representing publishers) called for the directive to be scrapped. Today, a second letter signed by BASCA (representing songwriters); the FAC and MU (musicians); MMF (managers); and MPG (producers) criticised the first letter in the strongest of terms.

We’ve reported on the fallout here, but in the interests of fairness, the text of both letters is reproduced in full below.

The first letter (co-signed by the IFPI, Impala and ICMP)

“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”

The second letter (co-signed by the five music-maker bodies)

“The UK Council of Music Makers (CMM) – 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 11th 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 13 but because they want to avoid the improvements to transparency and fairness that the Articles 14-16 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.

Council of Music Makers (UK)

British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA)
Featured Artists Coalition (FAC)
Music Managers Forum (MMF)
Music Producers Guild (MPG)
Musicians’ Union (MU)”

Stuart Dredge

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