Robert Ashcroft, CEO of PRS for Music, spoke about the concerns for UK publishers and songwriters at the performing rights organization’s annual general meeting. His critiques were focused on online platforms that thrive on user-generated content, such as YouTube and SoundCloud. Ashcroft said those services have been unfairly benefiting from safe harbor laws.
“This legislation was not intended to protect those that host, curate and distribute copyright material while claiming to have no knowledge of it on the grounds that their users, and not they themselves, have the knowledge and are responsible for clearing copyright,” he said. “There is a huge gap between the value that some digital platforms derive from music and what they pay to creators and this cannot continue.” He also noted that UGC platforms are putting other streaming services with tiered subscriptions at a disadvantage: “Spotify can’t feed its subscription layer without bringing consumers into the ad-funded layer and they can’t get them into the ad-funded layer unless they have all the content that is available on UGC platforms.”
Ashcroft called on the European Commission to make a clearer definition of safe harbor rules and better protect copyright holders. He noted that the EC is expected to clarify the laws governing those UGC services by the end of this year.