U.S. music industry calls for support of EU law to address “value gap”

dollar-sign-cufflink-canvasThe U.S. music industry is petitioning its European counterparts to make copyright reforms that would address royalty payments made by online music distribution services. Several music industry organizations signed an open letter about the value gap in services that do a great deal of user traffic but make comparatively small royalty payments. The CEOs from SoundExchange, the RIAA, BMI, SESAC, the Recording Academy, A2IM, and Azoff MSG Entertainment are among the signees. The letter asks U.S. government representatives in Europe to support Article 13 of the Copyright Directive proposed by the European Commission.

“Article 13 of the proposed EC Copyright Directive recognizes the importance of correcting this disparity, essentially requiring those that act as music distribution services to negotiate free-market licenses or take meaningful action to prevent unlicensed works from appearing on their services,” the letter reads. “This is a perfectly reasonable instruction, placing all services on a level playing field that protects creators and the digital marketplace itself.”

The letter focuses its attack on YouTube, which has been the lightning rod for critiques about how it uses elements of copyright law. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act includes a safe harbor provision that protects services from infringing activities taken by their users. For example, that means YouTube would be protected from legal action when a person uploads a video with unlicensed music. YouTube has said that its tools for rights management should address concerns, but the calls for change and new laws from the industry side have grown louder and more numerous over the course of this year.

Anna Washenko