Music bodies and other creative groups continue to push in favor of controversial EU Copyright Directive

Several parties in the European creative sector have launched another push on behalf of the Copyright Directive, a contentious effort to update and overhaul the EU’s legal framework for a digital age. A group of 256 organizations and trade bodies from many disciplines signed a letter encouraging the European Parliament to adopt the proposed set of rules when it votes in early April.

“This Directive has been long sought to create a much-needed level playing field for all actors of the creative sector in the European Digital Single Market, whilst giving citizens better access to a wider array of content,” the letter states. “This is a historical opportunity. We need an internet that is fair and sustainable for all. This is why we urge policymakers to adopt the Directive quickly, as agreed in trilogue negotiations.”

The signees include several music organizations, such as indie trade group IMPALA, authors’ society network CISAC, UK indie body AIM, German performing rights organization GEMA, French performing rights organization SACEM, UK performing rights organization PRS for Music, and Spanish performing rights organization SGAE.

One of the more controversial elements of the directive is the one that many music groups are backing. Article 13 of the directive includes an end to legal safe harbor protections for online services, which limit their liability when user-generated content infringes on copyrights. The music industry is pushing for this change as a method to recoup larger royalty payments and reduce the burden of copyright enforcement from platforms such as YouTube. However, the broad scope laid out in Article 13 could go beyond that end goal and may limit when and how content is consumed online. The attempt to protect music and other creative industries could end up shrinking audiences, limiting discovery and sharing, and making it harder for new artists to break out. The letter calls for “sustainability,” but it seems uncertain whether the directive will in fact accomplish that goal.

Anna Washenko