Music Industry Asks EU to Scrap Article 13

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A powerful group of organizations in the music, broadcasting, and sports industries have called on the EU to cancel the proposed Article 13. Headed by IFPI, the worldwide voice of the music industry and formerly the most vocal supporter of the legislation, the groups say that "no directive at all" is better than a bad one.

The road to implementing the EU’s proposed Article 13 started off relatively smoothly for the entertainment industries but during the past couple of months, serious cracks have begun to emerge.

In fact, the proposed legislation, which was designed to prevent large Internet platforms (such as YouTube) from exploiting the so-called Value Gap, has descended into unexpected chaos.

With large Internet platforms faced with the prospect of deploying filters to scoop up infringing content, there was outrage among huge numbers of YouTubers, who felt their livelihoods might be at stake. But somehow, in the midst of this dissent, YouTube began lobbying in favor of filtering.

With the battle lines becoming even more blurred, rightsholders began complaining about the shifting details of the proposals as they moved through the negotiation process, apparently in YouTube’s favor.

In December 2018, the Motion Picture Association, the International Union of Cinemas, the Premier League, and La Liga, announced that they were concerned about proposals for liability shields for large Internet services, which would gain power in the market, not lose it as planned.

Soon after, major entertainment organizations including IFPI complained that if Article 13 passed in its current form, they would be worse off than they were before. Things were very clearly not going to plan and were about to get worse.

Last month, the MPA and other rightsholders called for a suspension of Article 13 just as the EU Parliament and Council were about to agree on the final text. Those negotiations were eventually canceled after the Member States failed to agree on a final negotiating position.

Earlier this week, there appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel, with Article 13 proposals moving forward after France and Germany reached a deal on which services should be bound by the terms of Article 13.

Now, however, all external support for Article 13 appears to lie in tatters.

In an open letter, organizations including IFPI, IMPALA, Premier League, La Liga, and others in broadcasting and media, have effectively asked the EU to scrap Article 13 completely.

Noting that the original aim of Article 13 was to create “a level playing field in the online Digital Single Market”, the groups state that as it stands, the proposed legislation will not strengthen the positions of European rightsholders.

“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,” they write.

“As rightsholders we are not able to support it or the impact it will have on the European creative sector.”

While thanking parties for trying to reach a “good compromise” during the negotiations of recent months, the organizations state that the text contains elements which “fundamentally go against copyright principles enshrined in EU and international copyright law.”

“Far from leveling 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,” they state, winding up for the following bombshell.

“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,” they conclude.

In other words, the global music industry (and others, less affected by the Value Gap) have effectively called for Article 13 to be canceled.

What happens next is anyone’s guess but Julia Reda, MEP for the Pirate Party, is cautioning that the EU probably won’t back away.

“The EU_Commission will never do the politically responsible thing and withdraw #Article13,” she wrote on Twitter.

“It is time for checks and balances to kick in. Council has to refuse the backroom deal by Macron & Merkel.”


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