AIM has been working closely with lobbying bodies IMPALA and UK Music in representing the interests of the AIM community to ensure that the EU copyright reforms represent a fair and favourable rebalancing of interests between online platforms and rightsholders, working towards reducing the ‘value gap’. IMPALA recently put out a call to action and AIM has thrown its support behind it and behind proposed text for the new EU Copyright Directive from MEP Axel Voss, which we believe best serves our community.
The proposal would clarify the responsibility of online music services to seek licences from rightsholders for the music they provide access to. This has been one of the highest priorities for rightsholders for the past few years.
Paul Pacifico, CEO of AIM said: “The EU copyright directive going to the vote on July 5 has our unequivocal support. For music to have a sustained and diverse future, music-makers must be paid fairly by tech giants who are currently profiting from their content. The cynical campaign some have conceived to create fear around the new directive and its supposed impact on public use of the internet reflects poorly on them, particularly at a time when public image towards ‘big tech’ is shifting.”
See below for IMPALA’s editorial on the mandate, its potential and what it stands for:
Europe’s chance to write the music for a generation
People have never enjoyed as much music as we do today. All music from all time is available at our finger tips. Young artists are exploring the frontiers of pop, rap, R&B, grime, jazz, electronica, rock, classical, punk and soul, while fans share the experience online, at gigs and festivals. This multicoloured mosaic reflects our ever-shifting cultural diversity. It’s the playlist to our loves and losses, our protests and parties. It’s precious.
In 2018, the European Union has the chance to recognise this outpouring of creativity and help it flourish. The commission of Jean-Claude Juncker has rightly pursued a strategy to turn the world’s biggest single market into the best home for digital innovation. This is more than a five-year task but in the coming weeks and months European lawmakers will complete a crucial part of the job – a reform of copyright that will shape how we discover and listen to music for years to come. They need to get it right.
There will be a key vote in the European parliament on the 5th of July. The stakes are high and there is a massive disinformation campaign going on. Google has been influencing academics for years and has now been caught manipulating the press into opposing the new rules. Other tech companies are also in the mix. Many parliamentarians have complained that their work is being frustrated by robots spamming their email accounts. Concerns have already been raised about this in countries such as Denmark (here), Germany (here) and France (here).
Freedom and fairness should be the guiding principles. Artists need to be free to create, and free to publish their work as they see fit; and they deserve a fair share of revenue. Fans want to be free to explore new music, and free to choose how they access and pay for it. This has all the makings of a perfect couple, but not everyone in the digital world plays by the rules.
Today, a fully-licensed online music subscription service pays on average 16 euros per user per year. That money rewards artists and the people who support them. Under-licensed services pay less than one euro per year – draining value from the market, depriving young talent and blocking new entrants. This is what has now become known as the value-gap. And when the big players with deep pockets shrug their shoulders – ‘take it or leave it’ – everyone loses. Many parts of the cultural and creative sector face this challenge; many are too small to deal on equal terms with the tech giants. But all of them are open to a variety of business models that deliver a fair deal to artists and creators.
What needs to happen? By taking firm action against abuses of online dominance and insisting that global tech companies pay their fair share of tax, the EU has started to make a difference. Now it needs to ensure that independent artists and creators can negotiate fairly with the companies who distribute their work online.
More than eighteen months ago, the European legislator published its proposal to reform European copyright and tackle the value gap. Europe’s member states agreed their position a month ago. Last week the legal committee of the European parliament adopted their position with a clear majority. Known as the JURI report, this gives a negotiating mandate to the parliament to move ahead and finalise the new rules with the member states and the regulator.
Now the Pirate Party parliamentarian Julia Reda is contesting the JURI report and is asking for a full vote when the parliament is in session in Strasbourg. That’s what’s taking place on the 5th of July.
There are a lot of false claims that the new copyright rules would create a “censorship machine” and that it would be the end of the internet. Let’s remember why big tech and online platforms might be keen to hold on to the old world. After all, they are doing very nicely making money, controlling data, manipulating public opinion and not paying taxes. They like the digital world the way it is, but hey, it’s time to move on.
If lawmakers want Europe’s music scene to stay as exciting and diverse as it is today, they should enshrine one principle that everyone can respect: if you’re in the business of providing access to music, you need a licence from the people who created it, and you need to share revenue properly. What could be fairer than that? It’s good business too: fans get to discover and enjoy more music; online services get a clear set of rules; music companies, who today are solicited more than ever by artists looking for professional partners, can invest more in talent; and artists get more revenue and more choice.
Europe’s independent music sector is a constellation of micro-companies and small businesses who deliver more than 80% of new releases, jobs and investment. Remember that when you read that the value gap is a fight between big tech and big music. We want to make licensing as easy as possible so that fans access more music on more services, and they’ve set up their own global rights agency, Merlin, to make this happen. From Kraftwerk to Björk to the Arctic Monkeys, pop music has always understood the promise of technology. Copyright and innovation are friends; they are two sides of the same coin and don’t let the so-called digital activists tell you otherwise.
All eyes are on now on the EU as it rewrites the rules of the game. It is well qualified for the job. At its heart, Europe always has been a cultural project, an audacious democratic experiment to negotiate our differences, a home for all voices, big and small. If we truly care about one of its central achievements, a single market that offers freedom and opportunity to half a billion people, then we must aim higher than ‘ease’ and ‘efficiency’, welcome as they are. After all, a market is just a means to an end. It’s the music that counts.
Let’s make Europe the best home for artists and their work.
Lets modernise copyright in Europe to bring digital services up to date and make the internet fair and sustainable for all.