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European Film, TV, and Sports Associations Speak Out Against Article 13 — ‘We Are Extremely Concerned About the Direction’

Posted on January 10, 2018
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A consortium of 18 organizations across the film, TV, and sports industries in Europe is now speaking out against Article 13.

Google/Alphabet has a newfound ally in its war against Article 13: rights owners.

In a recently-issued open letter, a consortium of 18 different organizations within the European film, television, and sports industries spoke out against Article 13, a contentious provision of the EU’s Copyright Directive.

The European Parliament approved the Copyright Directive and its Article 13 in a plenary vote in September.  That set the stage for a possible passage into EU law, and an all-out-war of lobbying and debate among stakeholders.

The music industry is strongly in favor of the provision, which forces user-generated platforms like YouTube to implement strict filters to prevent copyright infringement.  But organizations like the Motion Picture Association (MPA), Independent Film & Television Alliance, and Premier League say the measure goes too far.

Even worse: the non-music consortium says Article 13 would actually strengthen heavyweight ISPs and other entrenched platforms.

“As representatives of the audio-visual and sports sectors active across the European markets, we are extremely concerned about the direction of ongoing trilogue discussions on Article 13 (the so-called Value Gap provision) of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market,” the consortium states (the full letter is here).

(‘Trilogue’ discussions refer to a three-part meeting schedule designed to discuss, update and refine the Copyright Directive and Article 13).

A major issue, according to the group, is that Article 13 would upset a substantial body of EU case law on the matter.  That’s a set of precedents these players want to protect.

“Recall that the initial goal of Article 13 was to codify the existing case-law in a way that would enable right holders to better control the exploitation of their content vis-a-vis certain OCSSPs [online content sharing service providers] which currently wrongfully claim they benefit from the liability privilege of Article 14 E-Commerce Directive,” the letter continues.

“However, unfortunately, the Value Gap provision has mutated in such a way that it now strengthens even further the role of OCSSPs to the direct detriment of right holders and completely undermines the status quo in terms of the EU liability regime.”

Strangely, the film/tv/sports consortium sees Article 13 essentially perverting its original mission, and handing serious advantages to entrenched ISPs and even UG destinations like YouTube.

That isn’t an opinion shared by organizations like the IFPI, or any other music industry rights organization.  But it’s music to the ears of Google/Alphabet and its YouTube juggernaut.

For months, YouTube executives have been warning that Article 13 would have a far-reaching and detrimental impact on artists.  One simple reason is that YouTube would be forced to severely restrict uploads, simply because the possibility of a copyright liability is too high.

“This legislation poses a threat to both your livelihood and your ability to share your voice with the world,” warned YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s Global Head of Music, outlined a landscape devoid of remixes and musical collaboration.  “By providing a global stage, I think YouTube has reinvented collaborations,” Cohen stated.  “Whether it’s between artists from different countries or genres or between artists and creators – it’s such a fertile space and smart way to get your art in front of new audiences.”

“You know that what’s currently written in Article 13 might just shut down these remixes you are talking about?  Remixes and covers, tutorials, fan tributes, parodies — these are such powerful promotional tools for the industry.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m all in favor of protecting artists rights and compensating them fairly – I’ve been fighting for this for 38 years – but we should all realize that nurturing these kind of relationships with fans and creators is one of the best things that has happened to music.”

One idea proposed by the non-music consortium is to simply limit the scope of Article 13 to music copyright.

“If, on the contrary, any new safe harbor/”mitigation of liability” would be part of a final trilogue agreement, we would respectfully urge you to disapply the entire value gap provision to our respective sectors,” the letter continues.

“This could simply be achieved by making Article 13 specific to musical works and phonograms…”

The group has even written a proposed change to Article 13, which might look something like this:

“Article 13 applies with regards to the communication to the public and making available of musical works and phonograms, without prejudice to Article 3(1) and (2) of Directive 2001/29/EC and of Article 14 of Directive 2000/31/EC to any other sectors.”