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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’.

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European music orgs call for more pandemic-tackling investment

A collective of 40 European music bodies are calling for the European Union and also national governments to deliver more support to the music industry and its creators, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In light of this dire situation, we call for emergency as well as sustainable public support and structural policies at EU, national, regional and local level to consolidate the music ecosystem, and help it thrive again in all its diversity,” explained the group, led by Impala.

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Music Ally Report 426: Trends of 2019

This year we’ve picked 42 (also the answer to life, the universe and everything as fans of Douglas Adams will know) of the trends and moments we found most significant in 2019. What are they? *takes deep breath* industry growth; the European Copyright Directive and Music Modernization Act; Spotify’s two-sided marketplace; Apple Music’s bundled future; […]

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