One of the most debated and controversial reports from the EU is currently the Copyright Directive. Thousands of people went to the streets to protest against this directive, which was recently adopted by the European Parliament. In the heart of the discussion is often article 13, which says that online platforms are responsible for the uploaded content of their users and therefore also for potential copyright issues.

The topic is complex and divides political parties, companies, family and friends. E&M listened to two sides of the argument to find out how this directive affects the daily lives.

PRO

by Didier Gosset
What do you think about the copyright directive?

It is a very welcome initiative from the European Commission. Our current copyright legislation was nearly two decades old, it was more than time to refresh it, to include all the digital developments that have taken place since then and make sure that the European legislation reflects the copyright challenges of today.

How does the directive affect you?

The directive will not have a direct impact on record labels, but it will most definitely favour better commercial negotiations between record labels and artists on one end, and online platforms on the other end.

For the first time ever user-upload services as defined in the Directive will be responsible for the copyright protected works uploaded on their platform, such as music (video & audio). They will have to get a licence for these works, and in the case where no licence is agreed with the creator/rightholder, they will have to make their best efforts to take down unauthorised content and prevent this content from reappearing on the platform.

The directive effectively transfers the responsibility from the user (as it’s the case today) to the platform, as the licences will automatically cover uploads by users. This directive will significantly strengthen rightholders when negotiating with such platforms. No more “take it or leave deals”, which is the norm today. In turn, this should increase the rates paid by platforms for distributing music and other creative works.

The directive also brings more security for authors and performers: more transparency in terms of remuneration, a contract-adjustment mechanism to ensure that their contracts can be adjusted if the remuneration initially agreed is disproportionately low compared to the revenue generated by the work, a principle of proportionate and appropriate remuneration, a right revocation mechanism in the case where a work is not exploited, and a dispute resolution mechanism, specifically made to solve disputes arising from the bad implementation of the transparency and contract requirements. It sounds technical, but it’s a huge way forward!

Why is the copyright directive advantageous for your field of work?

Record labels are welcoming this new directive with open arms. It aims – among many other issues – at closing the so-called “value gap”, i.e. the mismatch between the value that user upload services (such as YouTube) extract from music and the revenue that is actually returned to the music community. Overall, it should re-balance the way artists and the music sector are remunerated for their work, which surely can only be a good thing?

How do you see the future with this directive in place?

There’s obviously still a bit of time to go before this directive is fully enshrined into national legislations all over Europe, but I expect it to deliver added value to the whole cultural sector in Europe. It should re-balance the playing field and empower European artists by making sure their rights are properly taken into account.

CON

by Vincent Faidherbe
What do you think about the copyright directive?

It has the merit of clarifying many things which were into a kind of grey zone until now. Now as a person working in the IT sector, I’ve the feeling that it goes in the wrong direction on certain aspects, specially the much-discussed articles 15 (ex-11) and 17 (ex 13).

How does the directive affect you?

As a record label owner, it doesn’t impact me as I’m trying to work mainly with unregistered artists to avoid to deal with music royalty collection companies which are too often based on quite unfair models. Unfortunately this reform doesn’t address that problem. As an IT guy, it’s too early to tell.

Why is the copyright directive advantageous/disadvantageous for your field of work?

At least you clearly know what are the responsibilities of every kind of actors working with copyrighted content. Although I still think that it defines some wrong shifts of responsibility, things are clear now.

How do you see the future with this directive in place?

I guess everything will depend on how these directives will translate into laws and what will be the judicial interpretation of them. I think There’s a big risk that it will make difficult for small and medium European companies to start user-generated business such as social network. To give a concrete example, if such reform existed 15 years ago, I’m not sure that creating SoundCloud (which is Europe-based) would have been possible. That would have a bean pity because it has been a game-changing company in the music industry.

  • Didier Gosset is the Co-Founder of Black Basset Records and Communication Manager at IMPALA (Independent Music Companies Association). & Vincent Faidherbe is an employee at Freemind Consulting Group and owner of DIY Record Label!

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