Rightsholders Call for Suspension of Article 13

A group of prominent representatives of the audiovisual and sports sectors, including the MPA and the Premier League, are calling for a suspension of the current Article 13 negotiations. The companies suggest that a case currently before the EU Court of Justice may give them a 'better deal' than the copyright reform proposal.

After years of discussions and negotiations, the EU’s copyright reform proposals are nearing the finish line.

In recent months concerns have been voiced about the plans from various sides.  Article 13, in particular, proved to be controversial.

Among the public, the main concern is that this could open the door to increased upload filtering. However, not all copyright holders are pleased with it either.

Last month a coalition of major representatives from the audiovisual and sports sectors, including the Motion Picture Association, the International Union of Cinemas, the Premier League, and La Liga, shared their concerns in a letter to members of the EU Parliament.

The companies are extremely worried about the current version of Article 13. They fear that it will do more harm than good for their industries, as it may strengthen the position of major online content sharing service providers.

At the time, the companies said that they would rather be excluded from Article 13 if their concerns are not addressed.

In response, legislators assured that the companies wouldn’t be worse off under Article 13 than they currently are but the rightsholders in question are not convinced.

With the negotiations nearing the finish line, the companies have now sent a more strongly worded letter to EU lawmakers urging them to halt all Article 13 negotiations for the time being.

According to the companies, the current proposals may actually be a step backward. They specifically warn that “the solutions that are under discussion are worse than the current legal framework.”

“[R]ather than rushing the highly controversial Art. 13 and seeking conclusion of this provision, no matter the jeopardy to the European copyright framework and no matter the prejudice and damage to the creative sectors before the end of this legislative period, we urge EU co-legislators to suspend negotiations with respect to this article,” the companies write.

The rightsholders specifically mention a pending German case in which YouTube stands accused of being liable for the video uploads of its users.

The German Federal Court referred several liability-related questions to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) last summer, and the rightsholders hope this will turn out in their favor.

“The Commission should continue to monitor the developments on CJEU level, in particular in case C-682/18, and decide, following this judgment, whether legislative intervention might be necessary in the future,” the companies state in their letter.

Whether highlighting one pending case which may or may not change anything warrants suspending all negotiations is up for lawmakers to decide. In any case, all those who are against Article 13 are not going to complain.

At the same time, it also creates tension between various rightsholder groups. The recommendation clearly goes against the wishes of many major music industry companies, which hope that Article 13 will fix the ‘Value Gap’.

A copy of the letter sent by representatives of the audio-visual and sports sectors is available here (pdf).

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