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Article 13 comes to the boil amid final negotiations


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Friday was a bad day for the music industry in Europe, it’s fair to say, as a fissure emerged between label and publisher bodies on one side, and organisations representing artists, managers, producers and songwriters on the other. Yet as we suggested, there were still some more twists and turns to come in the process by which the new European copyright directive – including Article 13 (covering user-uploaded-content platforms) and Articles 14-16 (which include elements covering transparency and fairness for creators) – is being finalised.

Indie body Impala co-signed the letter (along with the IFPI and ICMP) that kicked off the latest controversy, with its claim that “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”. After the criticism from a second letter published by the creator bodies, Impala issued a new statement on its views, seemingly clarifying that it didn’t want the directive to be scrapped after all.

“We are raising the alarm about the text on the member states’ table, which has fundamental problems. Urgent action is needed to move forward with a text that achieves its original purpose,” said executive chair Helen Smith. “The recipe still has some holes in it and they need to be fixed before the cake can go in the oven. Impala continues to make constructive proposals in this regard”. The statement also stressed that “subject to the fixes that are still needed to the text, Impala fully supports the Directive including article 13 and the provisions for performers and authors in Articles 14 to 16.”

What of that directive text, though? We were interested to see MEP Julia Reda blogging in anger on Friday, after the European Council (representatives of all the EU governments) adopted a version of the text that had been brokered by France and Germany earlier in the week. “This new Council position is actually more extreme than previous versions, requiring all platforms older than 3 years to automatically censor all their users’ uploads, and putting unreasonable burdens even on the newest companies,” she wrote. “The deal in Council paves the way for a final round of negotiations with the Parliament over the course of next week, before the entire European Parliament and the Council vote on the final agreement.”

Reda and other activists are urging protestors to make a direct link between what happens next, and the imminent European elections: “Right before the European elections, your voices cannot be ignored,” she wrote. “Tell your representatives: If you break the Internet and accept Article 13, we won’t reelect you!” Even if the various music-industry bodies can get over their differences, this is the lurking fear: that MEPs worried about re-election will lead to an unpredictable conclusion to this entire process.

Stuart Dredge

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