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Article 13 creates the great European divide



The sleeping giant Article 13 debacle woke up, shaking up the European creative industry and turning the industry into a war-zone, split into two groups.

When the Copyright Directive hit a brick wall, France and Germany put their heads together and reached a new agreement. Under the said agreement, the bill would be applicable to all European for-profit platforms, details of which were leaked by Poltico.

The agreement states that all online platforms would have to install upload filters, continuously checking for copyright infringement, except under three of the following criteria for the site, app, or platform in question:

1. Available to the public for less than 3 years.
2. Annual turnover falls below €10 million ($11.4 million).
3. Fewer than 5 million unique monthly visitors.

The Article 13 which would apply to all apps and websites in the EU must also meet all three above-mentioned criteria. This new agreement received flak from multiple entertainment organisations, including the music industry.

On 7th February, an open letter was issued to the media, signed by labels and publishers calling on European negotiators to cancel the Directive. This shocking turn of events caused by an open letter, co-signed by the IFPI, ICMP, IMPALA and several other rights-holder organisations from the audio-visual, broadcasting and sports industries including the Premier League, added fuel to the fire.

The collective’s message read: “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.”

The letter was of the opinion that 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.

The key aims of the original draft Directive were to create a level playing field in the online Digital Single Market and strengthen the ability of European rights-holders to create and invest in new and diverse content across Europe.

“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. As rights-holders we are not able to support it or the impact it will have on the European creative sector.We appreciate the efforts made by several parties to attempt to achieve a good compromise in the long negotiations of recent months. Nevertheless, the outcome of these negotiations in several of the Council discussions has been to produce a text which contains elements which fundamentally go against copyright principles enshrined in EU and international copyright law,” the letter stated. 

Following the letter published by signed by labels and publishers, on 8th February 8, songwriters, artists, producers and managers in the UK collectively issued a letter stating their disagreement and called on negotiators to proceed with the Directive negotiations.

The letter was signed by The UK Council of Music Makers (CMM) – comprising BASCA, FAC, MMF, MPG and the MU, suggested that “labels and publishers have shown an unsettling disrespect for the talent that they have the privilege of representing, raising serious questions about their suitability to be the custodians of copyright”.Lastly, the letter also opined that Article 13 is not the only reason why labels and publishers want the Directive to be scrapped, they rather “want to avoid the improvements to transparency and fairness that the Articles 14-16 bring.”


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