PRS for Music has welcomed the European Commission’s Digital Single Market copyright reform proposals.
The proposed Directive on copyright in the digital single market, alongside the regulation of the European Parliament and Council, represent the European Commission’s efforts to modernise the copyright framework in order to further realise the European Digital Single Market.
The initiative attempts to address the “value gap”, the most important issue facing the music sector in Europe and worldwide, the mismatch between the growing consumption of music worldwide and the disproportionately small revenues that are returned to rights holders.
In announcing this morning’s publications, which confirm that user uploaded content services that promote and monetise music should be covered by the same copyright rules as other on-demand services, EC president Jean-Claude Juncker stated: “Artists and creators are our [Europe’s] crown jewels. I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work.”
PRS has championed the case for copyright reform to address the ‘transfer of value’ resulting from the ambiguity in the current legal framework. This ambiguity is enabling some online platforms, specifically user upload services, to generate vast revenues without fairly remunerating the creators, upon whose works their services depend.
PRS for Music CEO Robert Ashcroft (pictured) said: “PRS for Music welcomes the Commission’s recognition of the critical ‘transfer of value’ issue and we acknowledge the clear intention to redress the current imbalance of interests between user upload platforms and rightsholders. The law must clearly establish that those user upload platforms that provide search and other functionality, as distinct from being mere hosts of content, require a license from rightsholders. The European Commission’s proposed new copyright Directive provides the framework for this essential legal clarity.”
Ashcroft added: “Europe is our largest export market and, even outside of the European Union, its copyright framework will directly impact UK creator’s earnings. Therefore, we hope that the EU Parliament and Council will grasp this opportunity to establish a functioning, digital single market - as this is in the interests of all concerned: creators, consumers and platforms, new and established.”
IFPI CEO Frances Moore said: “The music industry has transformed itself in recent years, licensing hundreds of services, widening choices for consumers and investing in new, creative ways to bring artists to a global audience. But to achieve sustainable growth, the music sector needs a level playing field. This means creating an environment where copyright rules are correctly applied so that creators and producers can be confident to invest and license. It also means allowing digital services to compete on fair terms and enabling consumers to enjoy access to diverse sources of licensed music.
“Today’s proposal is a good first step towards creating a better and fairer licensing environment in Europe. Importantly, it confirms that user uploaded content services such as YouTube, which are the largest source of on-demand music, should not be able to operate outside normal licensing rules. However, there is a lot more to do to make this a workable proposal. We look forward to working on this in the coming months with the Parliament and Member States.”
ICMP, the International Confederation of Music Publishers, also welcomed the various proposals as a "first step", but says that there is still more to be done before rightsholders, consumers and cultural diversity are fully protected across the European Union.
“We think that this package is a step in the right direction to guarantee that the value generated by online platforms when using copyright protected content is fairly shared with rightsholders,” said ICMP director general Coco Carmona. “We are also satisfied that the Commission has recognised that music publishers make an economic and creative investment that is worth protecting and as a result, have the right to claim a share of compensation for uses of works under an exception to copyright.
“But more needs to be done so we will continue working with both the Council and the European Parliament in order to strengthen the rights of authors, composers, music publishers and other players in the creative value chain.”
The copyright package will next be discussed and analysed by the European Parliament and Council before being implemented by national governments.