Right now, it may seem hard to find an upside to the European Parliament’s decision not to immediately pass the new Copyright Directive (apart from knowing we have at least another two months of people banging on about the so-called ‘value gap’, of course).
But, with the legislation now moving to a full plenary debate and vote in September, you can’t help feeling the biz may, ultimately, benefit from winning this argument the hard way.
In the days leading up to the vote, there was a lot of attention from the biz on the tech lobby’s allegedly underhand tactics and focus on scaremongering tactics. We’ll never know if that approach ultimately had an impact – although you’d hope MEPs would be able to see through it – but focusing on it risked distracting the politicians from the core principles at stake.
Whatever the outcome in September, it seems clear that rights-holders will need to have a working relationship with YouTube in the future
It would be nice, obviously, if the technology lobby played fair. But there's little point complaining about the rules of engagement, better to - like England against Columbia in the World Cup - rise above the dirty tricks and concentrate on the job in hand. There are many more positive arguments in favour of copyright reform, and it’s vital they get aired loud and clear before September, preferably by the most high profile people available. It was a coup to get Paul McCartney involved but why have the greatest musical communicator of the last six decades talk about the value gap, a term still likely to be a mystery to anyone outside of the digital music bubble?
Furthermore, the vote comes at an interesting time, given YouTube’s recent conciliatory moves towards music creators and with, by all accounts, a gigantic marketing campaign for YouTube Music about to kick in. Talking to label execs this week, it sounds like the new service is already making an impact and, after a number of false starts, it really does look like Google is serious about the subscription business.
Ultimately, it's fair enough if MEPs want to have a full debate and, if both sides manage to get their views across fairly during that conversation, it's more likely that the losing side will respect the vote. And, whatever the outcome in September, it seems clear that rights-holders will need to have a working relationship with YouTube in the future.
That gives the biz around eight weeks to come up with some winning arguments that won’t take its links with tech companies back to square one. Oh, and to come up with a new way of saying ‘value gap’, obviously…