Yesterday (March 26), the creative sector’s nervous wait for the final vote on the Copyright Directive in the EU Parliament finally ended with MEPs backing the copyright directive. The proposals were approved by 348 to 274.
The vote marked the culmination of many years of arguments and counter-arguments about the so called value gap – namely, the difference in remuneration from upload platforms such as YouTube compared to DSPs such as Spotify. In 2017 this gap was estimated by Washington, DC-based economy think tank the Phoenix Centre For Advanced Legal And Economic Public Policy Studies to be between "$650 million to over one billion dollars" in lost royalty revenue every year in the US alone.
Here Music Week looks back at how the whole saga unravelled between the music industry and, in particular, YouTube who have lobbied fiercely against it over the past year...
February 8 – 2018
CISAC urged the European Parliament to address the value gap in their copyright reform proposals.
June 20 – 2018
The EU copyright reform measures – which, if passed, requires online platforms to filter content for copyright infringement or obtain licences for all content – go to MEPs for ratification.
June 28 – 2018
Industry bodies and music creators united in calling on MEPs to ratify proposed copyright reforms, as frantic lobbying from both sides continued in the run-up to the crunch July 4 vote. More than 32,000 creatives, including songwriters under the PRS For Music umbrella, signed a petition calling on MEPs to vote through the legislation, with a group of signatories delivering their views to MEPs.
July 5 – 2018
Members of the European Parliament vote on the recommendations of its JURI committee for a new EU Copyright Directive. In a major blow to copyright reform in the EU, MEPs vote against beginning negotiations on the Copyright Directive including Article 13, which contained measures to address the so-called value gap.
August 28 – 2018
The UK music industry united to launch the #LoveMusic campaign ahead of a key vote on the EU Copyright Directive, which was set to be held by MEPs on September 12. The campaign, organised by UK Music, had the backing of AIM, BASCA, the BPI, the FAC, MMF, Music Publishers Association, MPG, Musicians’ Union, PPL and PRS For Music. Featured Artists Coalition CEO Lucie Caswell addressed the failure of the previous campaign and the issues surrounding the Copyright Directive in Music Week’s cover feature.
September 5 – 2018
UK Music CEO Michael Dugher voiced his confidence that the artist community would make its voice heard on the issue. “I think this is a battle for the heart and soul of our creative music industry, which is something that is dear to so many people up and down the length and breadth of the country,” he told Music Week. “It’s also a battle about deciding it’s time do the right thing. It is a huge moment for the future of the British music industry. We contribute nearly £4.5 billion to the economy, we produce the best creative talent from music and we need to protect that and make sure that the creators who write and perform start to get this fair reward. So, this is actually all about decency and standing up to a bully, which is what Google is – a massive corporate bully.”
September 6 – 2018
Ahead of the big vote in the European Parliament, YouTube broke its silence to hit out at the proposals and the claims from the music industry about YouTube and the so-called 'value gap'. In a blog post, Robert Kyncl, chief business officer, voiced strong opposition to Article 13. "The open internet eliminated the barriers of traditional media gatekeepers and ignited a new global creative economy for creators and artists," said Kyncl. "It has given anyone with an idea the ability to share their passion, find fans all over the world and build a business. Despite best intentions, I believe this may now be at risk as European policymakers prepare to vote on a new European Copyright Directive on September 12."
September 11 – 2018
The International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP) gave its support to MEP Axel Voss ahead of the debate and vote on EU copyright reform. "We are pleased to join the many citizens, songwriters and artists, consumers and policymakers across Europe supporting this approach, even as powerful opponents mischaracterise its merits," said ICMP's chair Chris Butler.
September 12 – 2018
The European Parliament voted to accept the Article 13 digital copyright reforms. MEPs approval of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market proposals meant the EU's three main institutions, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Council, would discuss digital copyright together. The music industry – including Blur's Dave Rowntree – reacted positively to the European Parliament vote in favour of reforming the EU’s digital copyright rules.
October 22 – 2018
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki warned creators on the platform that Article 13 “poses a threat to your livelihood”. Wojcicki gave an alarming assessment of the impact of the measures in the EU copyright directive, which was approved by MEPs the previous month. Wojcicki outlined the power of YouTube for artists, with channels boasting more than 1 million subscribers increasing by 75%. “Each month, more than one billion fans come to YouTube to be part of music culture and discover new songs and artists,” said Wojcicki, who sounded a warning over Article 13’s measures to impose licensing restrictions on uploaded user content.
November 2 – 2018
DJ and producer Alesso broke ranks with much of the biz to back Lyor Cohen’s recent warnings that Article 13 of the EU’s new Copyright Directive will “create severe unintended consequences for the whole industry.”
November 20 – 2018
Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s global head of music, maintained the platform's anti-Article 13 agenda with a strongly worded blog post about how he believed the measures will “harm” the creative industry. Headlined "What Article 13 could really mean", Cohen’s message to the music industry followed warnings of “severe unintended consequences”. “Emerging artists will find it harder to be discovered and heard on a global stage,” he wrote. “In short, the Parliament’s version of Article 13 will harm the very creative industry it seeks to protect.”
November 21 – 2018
A host of top execs and organisations responded to Lyor Cohen’s strongly-worded anti-Article 13 blog. “More scare tactics & misinformation from YouTube,” tweeted Michael Dugher. “Changes to copyright would mean more money for artists & songwriters (who actually create the content) and less money for YouTube (who currently make billions on the back of that content by deliberately ripping off music creators)”
November 22 – 2018
A handful of European music industry bodies have issued a joint statement accusing YouTube of "fact-free fear-mongering" in its campaign against Article 13. The statement was signed by IMPALA, GESAC, ICMP, IFPI and the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ESCA).
Dec 14 – 2018
An open letter is issued to the European Commission, Parliament and Council, as they negotiated the exact wording of the final European Copyright Directive, including the controversial Article 13. Signatories to the letter included the IFPI, IMPALA, ESCA and Universal Music Group owner Vivendi.
January 18 – 2019
A separate group of bodies from the creative sector called for a suspension of negotiations on Article 13 until a case in Germany involving YouTube’s liability for copyright infringement was settled. The intervention came from the audiovisual and publishing sectors, and included the Motion Picture Association, Premier League and the Independent Film & Television Alliance. No music bodies urged any delay in negotiations.
January 21 – 2019
An EU summit on the Copyright Directive was cancelled after member states opposed the draft text. The tripartite talks (known as a trilogue) between the EU Parliament, Council and Commission had been scheduled following the circulation of proposals by the Romanian presidency of the EU. A European Union spokesman confirmed to Music Week that the trilogue had been cancelled as a result of the presidency not being able to obtain a negotiation mandate from the member states. National goverments failed to agree on a common position for Article 11 (licensing online news links) and Article 13. There were concerns raised about how the copyright proposals in the compromise text could affect internet users. Eleven countries opposed the draft text: Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Slovenia, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, Luxembourg and Portugal.
February 13 – 2019
European Union negotiations on the Copyright Directive concluded with an agreement on the final text, which would in turn face a vote in the European Parliament and approval by the European Council. The agreed text stated that commercial sites and apps must secure licences for copyrighted material uploaded by their users, as well as employing upload filters. The directive also enshrined the authors' and performers' right to "appropriate and proportionate remuneration".
February 14 – 2019
IMPALA welcomed the European breakthrough on Article 13 after a text was agreed in Strasbourg after lengthy trilogue negotiations. Germany and France had been at odds over the legislation but ultimately reached a compromise. Helen Smith, IMPALA executive chair, said: “We need to see the final text, but this legislation will be the first time anywhere in the world that there is absolute confirmation that user upload services are covered by copyright and need a licence. In line with the WIN fair digital deals declaration adopted over three years ago, IMPALA also supports the provisions in the directive on transparency and remuneration for authors and performers.”
February 18 – 2019
When Music Week caught up with Lyor Cohen on the eve of YouTube Music’s role as official music app at the BRIT Awards, he was adamant the jury was still out on whether the final text favoured the rights-holders’ position. “I don’t agree with that at all,” he said. “I’m studying it and understanding precisely what the impact [will be] and what the words are. To view it as against YouTube is a gross mischaracterisation.”
February 22 – 2019
Following the backing of the EU Council for the text of the Copyright Directive, the creative sector called for the measures to be passed into law. However, the text was only passed by a qualified majority vote of governments, as several objected to the measures. The Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Finland and Luxembourg did not support the compromise deal on the Copyright Directive. In a statement, the five countries said: “The Directive in its current form is a step back for the Digital Single Market rather than a step forward.
February 27 – 2019
UK Music urged MEPs to vote for the Copyright Directive after the European Parliament legal affairs committee voted to adopt the compromise text thrashed out earlier that month. “UK Music and its members have always supported constructive steps to foster a fair music licensing environment that benefits creators, performers and those who invest in them,” said the UK Music statement. “We have campaigned for this together through #LoveMusic and the final compromise text of the Copyright Directive is a notable step in that direction.
March 5 – 2019
Kent Walker, Google’s chief legal counsel, called on European lawmakers to address the online giant’s concerns about the Copyright Directive. “The latest text improves the version adopted by the European Parliament in September 2018,” said Walker in a blog post. “Platforms making a good-faith effort to help rights holders identify and protect works should not face liability for every piece of content a user uploads, especially when neither the rights-holder nor the platform specifically knows who actually owns that content. The final text includes language that recognises that principle.”
March 14 – 2019
The British Society Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors joined the calls for the European Parliament to vote for the reworded Copyright Directive. BASCA chair Crispin Hunt wrote an open letter to MEPs, hot on the heels of a similar plea from over 200 rights-holders organisations, led by European indies body IMPALA. Hunt, however, was more conciliatory in his letter, which called for “a reasonable partnership with the companies that distribute our work”. Although he warned: “A reasonable partnership should be based on accountability and shared responsibilities, not unilateral takings.”
March 17 – 2019
Dozens of trade bodies – including IMPALA, CISAC, GESAC, IMPF and ECSA – sign up to an open letter from Europe For Creators that challenge YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki to allow them to promote their pro-Article 13 message via the platform. Their request was to allow Europe For Creators to message YouTubers and place banner ads, in the same way that YouTube has promoted its arguments. The hard-hitting letter was essentially an extended dig at Google’s own lobbying against Article 13.
March 19 – 2019
More than 270 organisations from across the cultural sector show support for the Copyright Directive as part of a final big lobbying push ahead of the plenary vote in the European Parliament. A panel of leaders from European trade bodies shared their views on the reforms at an event in Brussels, following lobbying against the measures by YouTube. The support for the Copyright Directive and call for MEPs to vote for it was across the board, including creators, performers, publishers, producers, news agencies, cultural workers, conservatoires, choirs, grassroots cultural organisations. Helen Smith, executive chair, IMPALA, said: "Platforms facilitate a unique relationship between citizens and creators. The directive will boost this. It shifts responsibility away from citizens and encourages new entrants to the market. It is part of a wider bid by the EU to deliver fairness and sustainability in the online world."
March 26 – 2019
Ahead of the key vote in the European Parliament on the Copyright Directive, Ivors Academy chair Crispin Hunt spoke to Music Week about their lobbying efforts. Hunt took the fight to YouTube by recording a cover of Snow Patrol’s Just Say Yes and posting it on the platform.
MEPs back the copyright directive, tabling various amendments that suggested alternative options. The proposals are approved by 348 to 274.