Brussels, 15th March 2018
Letter to EU parliamentarians involved in this week's discussions in Strasbourg about the "Value Gap" provisions (Article 13) in proposed new copyright legislation.
Dear Member of the European Parliament,
We are writing to you ahead of tomorrow morning's JURI shadow meeting on Article 13.
In the past months, and more vehemently in the past few weeks, a lot of disinformation has been spread deliberately about this article to deceive the public opinion.
Let's be clear from the start: nothing in the original Commission proposal or the latest compromise amendment proposed by MEP Voss will lead to "censorship", "blocking of all content", or the "ability for rightholders to decide what we read and watch on the internet".
Our members, thousands of independent music companies across Europe, and the artists they work with, want to have their music as widely available and accessible legally as possible, at a fair rate. To be able to negotiate fair rates for the use of their artists' music, they need to be able to license where and when it makes commercial sense. For that to happen, a simple rule is needed: if you are in the business of distributing music, you are covered by copyright and need a licence.
For a licence to be effective, measures need to be put in place by the platforms to ensure works can be identified and attributed to their rightful owner so he/she can share in the value created by the use of his/her creation.
Our members, micro, small and medium-sized music companies, want their artists' fans to be able to upload their works. Revenues from works uploaded by users represent on average 80% of our members’ revenue from user-uploaded platforms where agreements are in place. If the rates were fairly negotiated with platforms, this would be a winning situation for all: fans, creators, rightholders and platforms. But today this is not the case.
Article 13 is about making opportunities equal for all. Right now the rules are completely tilted in favour of user-upload platforms which get away with carrying all the creative works in the world, as long as these works are uploaded by users - platforms claim that all they should have to do is take down the works notified to them and hold absolutely no responsibility. Imagine the weight on the shoulders of small creators or rightholders having to scan the millions of hours of videos uploaded to those platforms every day!
This is not about big copyright holders wanting to silence creators and their fans. Just think of who we represent: small but passionate record labels who invest their energy in money in helping artists break through, accounting for 80% of all new releases. A few years ago the main user-uploaded platform tried to silence us by threatening to take all of our music off when we did not agree to the terms they offered - please remember that when you hear claims of censorship.
"Censorship machine", "upload filter", "robocopyright". These misleading terms are being used by professional anti-copyright and pro-tech campaigners to help the biggest and most powerful companies in the world, giant online platforms, to avoid having to take any kind of responsibility for the content accessed through their platforms.
This #fixcopyright campaign is not about protecting citizens - how are citizens protected when they are exposed, "unfiltered", to fake news, terrorist propaganda, inappropriate content for kids, etc? And how are creators supposed to make a living when they have no recourse to get their fair share of the value created by the use of their works on platforms?
The false information disseminated online about Article 13 is intentionally misleading citizens and decisions into thinking that supporting Article 13 is supporting censorship.
Ironically, these methods of disinformation are very close in style to the "fake news" propaganda which has been plaguing the internet in recent years, and which the EU says it is committed to fight.
The copyright proposal is a unique opportunity to help remove some of the friction in the licensing market, level the playing field and allow creators and their partners to reap their fair and well-deserved share of the benefits of the rapid growth in music listening online.
Let's not waste this opportunity. We call on you to support a strong and simple Article 13 and avoid creating a second safe harbour.
IMPALA - The Independent Music Companies Association
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are SMEs. Known as the “independents”, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists - they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector's jobs (for more information, see the features of independents). IMPALA's mission is to grow the independent music sector, return more value to artists, promote cultural diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access and modernise perceptions of the music sector. See the organisation's key achievements in IMPALA's milestones.