Indies aim to chase ‘safe harbour’ out of the EU

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Independent music companies in the EU have launched a Digital Action Plan that has been submitted to the European Parliament ahead of a crucial meeting between MEPs.

IMPALA’s ten-point plan calls for a new European industrial policy to drive the digital market through the cultural and creative sectors, which account for 4,2% of EU GDP and 7.1 million EU jobs.

One key tenet of the Action Plan is a demand to put a stop to ‘safe harbour’ provisions in Europe that can currently protect those who run unlicensed music services in the territory.

The role of culture in today’s digital market will be one of the issues debated in the European Parliament today during a meeting of the Culture and Education committee with Digital Economy and Society Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

MEP Sabine Verheyen, Co-ordinator for the EPP group in the Parliament’s culture committee commented: “IMPALA’s Action Plan prevents very practical ways to boost creativity through smaller actors and deliver a dynamic digital single market built on diversity.”

One of the strands of Europe’s new industrial policy would be a range of measures to boost SMEs including independent music companies, who account for 80% of jobs and 80% of investment in new music in Europe today.

As well as strenghtening EU-wide copyright law, IMPALA has also asked the EU to rethink how citizens, artists and businesses engage online. It says that the ́rules of engagement’ online are important in the music world with reports surfacing last week that YouTube is continuing the same abuses which prompted IMPALA to lodge a complaint to the EC last year.

Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA commented: ́An industrial policy for culture is a pre-requisite to Europe’s digital economy. This involves reinforcing copyright and clarifying what operators like YouTube can and can’t do.

“Ensuring a successful single digital market also implies a host of other measures such as promoting diversity in a measurable way and devising a new regulatory, competition, social and fiscal framework for smaller actors.”

Michel Lambot, co-founder and co-president of [PIAS] and board member of IMPALA, said: “A healthy licensing environment is fundamental. We look to the EU to take away distortions to the digital single market. It must be clear that the ‘safe harbour’ is no place to hide in Europe if you are running a music service.

“Let’s couple that with a serious industrial policy that boosts smaller players, gets more investment, provides more exposure for all artists, and then of course quantifies the results. This is what our Action Plan is about.”

One of the ten areas flagged for action is growing investment through measures such as tax credits, new accounting standards and revised statistical codes.

IMPALA also asks the European Commission to broker a charter to boost diversity on European radio and other media offline as well as online.

This is timely with the news last week that just one independent track, Stolen Dance by Milky Chance (pictured), made the Top 50 biggest radio tracks across Europe in 2014.

IMPALA’s 10 point Action Plan:

1. Reinforcing the rights that drive the digital market and grow Europe’s copyright capital

2. Giving citizens the best digital infrastructure in the world

3. Improving pluralism and diversity online as well as offline

4. Revisiting the ‘rules of engagement’ online

5. Growing Europe’s ‘missing middle’ by improving conditions for smaller actors

6. Effectively tackling websites which are structurally infringing

7. Increasing investment through a new financial approach to culture

8. Introducing greater fairness in taxation

9. Mapping how creativity works and measuring the sectors

10. Placing culture and diversity at the heart of Europe’s international work

Helen Smith concluded: “The aim of our Digital Action Plan is to inspire decision-makers, ensure Europe’s position as a global power, and re-engage Europe with its creators and citizens.

“Our aim is to set new standards to make Europe the best place in the world for artists and other creators and for culture enthusiasts.”
Music Business Worldwide

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