'It's about equal opportunities for all': Impala's Helen Smith rails against Article 13 critics

'It's about equal opportunities for all': Impala's Helen Smith rails against Article 13 critics

Helen Smith, executive chair of Impala, has appealed to European Union parliamentarians as the "value gap" rears its head in discussions in Strasbourg this week.

The "value gap" is covered by Article 13 of the draft European Copyright Directive and, in an open letter, Smith has described the copyright proposal as, “a unique opportunity to help remove some of the friction in the licensing market.”

“Article 13 is about making opportunities equal for all,” Smith said.

The letter follows a similar call to arms from CISAC last month.

Smith noted that the proposal also stands to “level the playing field and allow creators and their partners to reap their fair and well-deserved share of the benefits generated by the rapid growth in music listening online.”

Indeed, the music business has long been campaigning to see copyright law reformed to increase the liabilities of platforms such as YouTube. Such reform would come as a result of article thirteen remaining in the European Copyright Directive.

Smith’s letter seeks to counter arguments suggesting that the proposal could lead to "censorship", "blocking of all content", or the "ability for rightsholders 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,” Smith wrote.

“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.”

The letter continued: “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 they can share in the value created by the use of their creation.”

Smith noted that revenues from works uploaded by users represent on average 80% of Impala members’ revenue from platforms where agreements are in place.

The fair negotiation of rates with platforms, she said, would result in “a winning situation for all, fans, creators, rightholders and platforms.”

However, Smith’s letter stated that the present legislation is “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!”

Read the letter in full here.

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