A2IM CEO takes aim at ‘corporations’ for ‘a nuclear fury of anti-copyright pressure’ over Article 13

With only a couple of weeks to go until the European Parliament votes on whether or not to legislate the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market – including the Article 13 provision – the bill seems to have gained widespread support from most music business associations.

On Monday (March 11) this week, over 200 trade bodies representing the likes of publishers, authors, composers, songwriters and music companies issued an open letter urging the European Parliament to adopt the Directive.

And now it has been endorsed by the CEO of The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Dr. Richard James Burgess (pictured), who has weighed in on the debate, writing in an op/ed that “A2IM and its members stand together with Europe’s parliamentarians as they endure a nuclear fury of anti-copyright pressure from the richest and most powerful corporations of all time”.

While Burgess doesn’t name any one corporation in particular – one of the firms he could be referring to is of course Google, which owns YouTube, which has been vocal in its objection of the Directive ever since the bill was voted through by European Parliament in September 2018.

In November 2018 for example, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote in an op/ed that Despacito (the biggest YouTube video of all time), may never have been allowed to exist on the platform in a world where Article 13 was legislated.

Article 13 would make user content reliant platforms like YouTube legally responsible for any copyright-infringing material uploaded by its users.

“[Despacito] contains multiple copyrights, ranging from sound recording to publishing rights,” wrote Wojcicki. “Although YouTube has agreements with multiple entities to license and pay for the video, some of the rights-holders remain unknown. That uncertainty means we might have to block videos like this to avoid liability under Article 13.”

Also in November, YouTube’s Global Head of Music, Lyor Cohen wrote an op/ed arguing that Article 13 could mean “less money for artists and songwriters, less music for fans”.

In Burgess’ op/ed, he calls “on our elected leaders to fix the value gap and restore control to creators and copyright owners over the use of their property and the ability to build businesses from the fruits of their labor”.

Said Burgess: “There has been a frenzied disinformation and scaremongering campaign emanating from the companies who have profited most from the free or undercompensated use of other people’s creative works.”

“American artists and labels’ hopes for fair compensation have been pinned on the European Parliament’s Copyright Directive, which promises to radically realign the application of copyright law to digital platforms in Europe.”

Richard James Burgess, A2IM

“The lobbying power of these entities is such that legislative change to protect creators and copyright owners in the US has been impossible.

“Consequently, American artists and labels’ hopes for fair compensation have been pinned on the European Parliament’s Copyright Directive, which promises to radically realign the application of copyright law to digital platforms in Europe.”

You can read Richard James Burgess op/ed in full below:


Article 13 and the Copyright Directive

There has been a frenzied disinformation and scaremongering campaign emanating from the companies who have profited most from the free or undercompensated use of other people’s creative works. The lobbying power of these entities is such that legislative change to protect creators and copyright owners in the US has been impossible. Consequently, American artists and labels’ hopes for fair compensation have been pinned on the European Parliament’s Copyright Directive, which promises to radically realign the application of copyright law to digital platforms in Europe.

A parliamentary vote in favor of this legislation will transform creators and copyright owners lives and careers for the better. For the first-time legislation will clarify that user-upload services are subject to copyright law. Platforms allowing access to large amounts of copyright-protected works will have to comply with a new regime (Article 13), which necessitates licensing that material. Non-profit platforms, Wikipedia, and certain other excluded online services will not be negatively affected.

Consumers win because responsibility will rightfully be shifted from the user to the platform. Licenses will cover their uploads, and they will be able to rely on exceptions and limitations.

Innovation will not be stifled, in fact, there are exceptions to protect nascent small startups.

The provisions on transparency and remuneration for authors and performers build on the commitments the independent sector already made nearly five years ago with the WIN digital deals declaration. 

From a US perspective, this is a hard fought and carefully crafted compromise that is long overdue. This law promises to rebalance the relationship between creators and distributors and incentivize the creation and ownership of intellectual property. Reinvigorating the creative community will produce both cultural and economic rewards. US lawmakers, who want the best for our country, should take heed.

“A2IM and its members stand together with Europe’s parliamentarians as they endure a nuclear fury of anti-copyright pressure from the richest and most powerful corporations of all time.”

The creative community has embraced the user-generated economy as best it could for two decades. Now the legal framework needs to support the market realities. 

Europe has led the way. A2IM and its members stand together with Europe’s parliamentarians as they endure a nuclear fury of anti-copyright pressure from the richest and most powerful corporations of all time.

As we are increasingly realizing, the interests of the general public and even our democracy are being threatened by the a-responsible behavior of these mega-corporations. We call on our elected leaders to fix the value gap and restore control to creators and copyright owners over the use of their property and the ability to build businesses from the fruits of their labor.Music Business Worldwide

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