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European cultural bodies launch Covid-19 recovery campaign

A group of 110 bodies representing the creative and cultural industries are keeping up the pressure on governments and European policymakers over their post-Covid recovery plans.

Impala, the IFPI, ICMP and ECSA are among the bodies who have written to national governments and to the European Commission pressing for at least 2% of each country’s ‘national recovery and resilience facility’ budget be allocated to the cultural and creative sector.

“There is a risk that citizens will not find their vibrant cultural life back in the post-pandemic world,” warned their letter. “This would be a huge loss in terms of social cohesion, communities’ empowerment, individual well being, and the economic revival of Europe.”

A social media campaign is kicking off today: watch for the #actforculture and #cultureneedsmore hashtags.

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Edima calls for new Euro safeguard for internet companies

Edima is the lobbying body in Europe for technology companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Spotify, TikTok and Twitter.

With European policymakers working on a new Digital Services Act governing the tech sector, it’s no surprise that Edima has views to share – and also no surprise that they’re likely to meet opposition from the music industry.

It’s calling for “the introduction of a legal safeguard which would allow companies to take proactive actions to remove illegal content and activity from their services, without the risk of additional liability for those attempts to tackle illegal content”.

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Feat publishes recommendations for tackling ticket touting

Anti-touting body the Face-Value European Alliance for Ticketing (Feat) has published a set of recommendations for improving secondary ticketing in Europe.

They come on the back of the European Parliament’s proposals for new regulations as part of the upcoming Digital Services Act legislation in Europe.

Feat’s recommendations include “clear liability for online marketplaces… including when they advertise or promote tickets, provide misleading information or guarantees, incentivise illegal selling, and allow delisted tickets to reappear on their platform”, as well as verification processes for sellers and their tickets; more transparency around who’s selling a ticket and what its face value is; better reporting and takedown measures for tickets that aren’t allowed to be resold; and the establishment of a European agency to enforce all this.

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Impala publishes its first diversity and inclusion charter

European independent music body Impala has adopted a new diversity and inclusion charter, which is the work of the diversity task force it set up in June this year amid the #TheShowMustBePaused movement.

“Not discriminating isn’t enough. We must be anti-discriminatory and consciously inclusive,” is the guiding principle behind the new charter, which Impala says is following European fundamental rights including gender, ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, age, sexual orientation and political beliefs.

The charter, which you can read in full here, has 12 promises: regular surveys measuring the independent music sector’s diversity in Europe; mapping and sharing ways companies are taking action positively; having a diversity advocate on Impala’s board and each of its committees; and more.

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Triller gets a licensing deal with pan-Euro licensing hub Ice

Triller has been making the most of TikTok’s recent troubles, poaching creators, trumpeting its user growth and even pitching itself in the US as “a form of patriotic capitalism”. But with that higher profile has come scrutiny of Triller’s licensing status, not least from US publishing body the NMPA.

On the other side of the Atlantic, in Europe, Triller has a new licensing deal in place today though. It’s with Ice, the pan-European licensing hub originally created by collecting societies PRS for Music, Gema and Stim.

“The deal covers Triller from its launch and will support the growing service by licensing it into 160+ territories for rights represented by Ice’s society and publisher rights holders,” announced Ice – the latter group including Concord, Downtown and Peermusic.

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Facebook warns that it could pull out of Europe altogether

American TikTokers have been grappling with the existential (in app terms) question of what they’d do if the app was banned. Now imagine the rumpus if Facebook and Instagram were suddenly unavailable across the whole of Europe.

It could happen.

Well, Facebook is claiming that it could happen, as part of its fightback against a recent decision by the Irish Data Protection Commission – the regulator that oversees Facebook in Europe – that the social network must stop sending user data to the US.

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Music bodies protest latest Article 17 developments in Europe

It almost feels quaint to think back to a time when the passage of Europe’s new Copyright Directive felt like an all-consuming, existential issue, given the horrors that 2020 has inflicted on us so far.

It was clear at the time that the approval of the directive at a European level was far from the end of the arguments about its measures – particularly its Article 17 section (formerly Article 13) covering the liability of internet services for user-generated content/uploads.

A reminder came yesterday when music bodies the IFPI, Impala, ECSA and ICMP joined a wider group of creative industry organisations to write to the European Commissioner responsible for copyright, Thierry Breton. Their letter was to protest at what’s happening with the consultation process for the EC’s guidance to European countries on how to implement the new regulation.

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EUCJ advocate general opines on YouTube copyright liability

Here’s something to make the average music rightsholder spit their cornflakes across the room in shock: an official European Union document spelling out that “online platform operators, such as YouTube and Uploaded, are not directly liable for the illegal uploading of protected works by the users of those platforms”.

But don’t waste your breakfasts, as there are some big caveats here. First, the document is an opinion by the advocate general of the European Union’ Court of Justice, Saugmandsgaard Øe, based partly on a case brought against YouTube and Google by German music producer Frank Peterson. It’s not a binding opinion.

Second, the document makes it clear that Øe’s opinion is not based on the new European Copyright Directive, which introduces liability for platforms like YouTube, but rather on the existing legislation – because the directive is still being implemented by individual EU countries, it doesn’t yet apply to the cases he’s writing the opinion for.

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EC launches antitrust investigation including voice assistants

2020 appears to be the year of European Commission antitrust investigations affecting Apple’s music operations, although the latest one will also be training its sights on Amazon and Google too.

The Commission has launched an antitrust competition inquiry into ‘the consumer Internet of Things’, focusing on “consumer-related products and services that are connected to a network and can be controlled at a distance, for example via a voice assistant or mobile device”. Smart speakers, wearables and other ‘home appliances’ for example.

“Access to large amounts of user data appears to be the key for success in this sector, so we have to make sure that market players are not using their control over such data to distort competition, or otherwise close off these markets for competitors,” said the EC’s EVP and competition policy chief Margrethe Vestager as the investigation was announced.

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Notes from Spotify’s Zoom call to discuss Apple antitrust investigation

Earlier today, the European Commission launched two formal antitrust investigations of Apple, including one spurred in part by Spotify’s complaint to the EC last year.

This afternoon, Spotify held a Zoom call for journalists where its head of global affairs and chief legal officer Horacio Gutierrez discussed the investigation, with added comments from external counsel Thomas Vinje, of Clifford Chance, who is Spotify’s lead counsel on the case.

Gutierrez spoke on the record, while Vinje spoke on background. You can read up on the specifics of Spotify’s complaint here, and Apple’s rebuttal last year here. But here are some of the key points made by Gutierrez during this afternoon’s call.

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EC launches formal antitrust investigations of Apple – one sparked by Spotify complaint

In March 2019, Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission, accusing the latter company of anticompetitive behaviour in the way it managed its App Store and in-app purchases. 15 months on, the EC has now launched a formal antitrust investigation of Apple.

In fact, it has launched two, although they’re not just focused on Spotify’s complaint. The first will assess “whether Apple’s rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules”, and was sparked by Spotify’s complaint as well as another unnamed ‘e-book / audiobook distributor’.