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MEPs vote against copyright directive

July 6, 2018

By Colin Mann

Members of the European Parliament, gathered in plenary session in Strasbourg, have rejected the negotiation mandate on the copyright directive. This mandate was to bring the text proposal (as drafted by the relevant committee (JURI ) at a final negotiation stage.

French-speaking authors’ society LaScam, along with the whole creative industry throughout Europe, it claims, has conveyed its “huge” disappointment at what it says is a missed opportunity to support a historical step forward which promised to adapt the creative ecosystem to the digital era. “It deplores that a majority of MEPs has visibly decided to give in to propaganda campaigns led by the digital dominant players and their outstanding financial means (more than €30 million spent on lobbying) to prevent this text from reaching its objectives. By hiding behind freedom of expression, they eventually deprived them of their future and threatened their freedom of creativity” it argues.

“If authors and their allies are losing a battle, they are not losing the war waged against them,” says LaScam. “Their forces must stay united so that the text, which should be discussed again during an upcoming plenary session after the summer, be the less affected possible by the amendments proposed meanwhile by its opponents. Our goal is to preserve at least the articles of the text on the improvement of platforms ‘liabilities and protected content sharing (article 13), and the right to a fair and proportionate remuneration (article 13c).

LaScam says it welcomes those MEPs who led the fight with “remarkable tenacity and commitment”, in particular Axel Voss, rapporteur of the text, as well as Jean-Marie Cavada, Virginie Rozière, Helga Trüpel, Marc Joulaud, and Pervenche Bérès and all MEPs who voted for the report and confirmed that it will continue to work together with them for the future of creativity, with the same determination.

The Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA) says it regrets the fact that the European Parliament’s plenary did not endorse the report by the Legal Affairs’ Committee on the Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market.

“The vote not only undermines months of intense work and negotiations by the members of the Legal Affairs Committee, it also sends a strange signal about Europe’s ability to define a favourable legal framework for authors’ rights in the digital era before the election of a new European Parliament,” it contended.

“SAA and more than 18,100 signatories of the petition support the introduction of a very much needed new article establishing a principle of fair and proportionate remuneration for authors and performers from the exploitation of their works, including online (new Article 13c),” it noted. “It is therefore crucial that the European Parliament’s plenary confirms this provision when looking into the report by the Legal Affairs’ Committee in September,” it declared.

As many studies have shown, European screenwriters and directors are today the weakest link in terms of remuneration. The European Parliament should not forsake the opportunity to reverse the trend and set the scene for tomorrow’s European creation. Otherwise authors will never benefit from the ever growing on-demand exploitation of their works,” it warned.

“It is very disappointing that a majority of Members of the European Parliament gave in to the aggressive pressure put on them by digital platforms and the opponents to copyright instead of listening to European authors,” said Cécile Despringre, SAA Executive Director. “This will only delay much needed rules for authors whose earnings are weakened in the digital era.”.

Europe’s publishers EMMA, ENPA, EPC and NME suggested that MEPs succumbed to an intense lobby of ‘manipulative’ anti-copyright campaigners, US Internet giants and vested interests who benefit from stealing and monetising publishers’ valuable content.

A spokesman for the bodies said: “We will fight on, and ask MEPs to do the right thing when it comes to Plenary. However, it is disgraceful that a handful of powerful vested interests can get away with using misleading scare tactics and exaggerated false claims (that they know to be untrue) to interfere with the democratic process. Four European Parliament committees have scrutinised, clarified, amended and approved the EU Copyright Reform over the past two years and, today, those efforts to create a fairer, more sustainable digital ecosystem for the benefit of creators, distributors and consumers have been jeopardised.”

MEPs will now be asked to make further amendments to the report that was approved in JURI (on June 20th. The amended report will be presented in Plenary in September for the full Parliament to vote on again.

“Ardent copyright campaigners and those who benefit from free-riding on publishers’ and other creators’ content will no doubt be lobbying for the total deletion of the proposed Publisher’s neighbouring Right (Article 11),” suggest the authors. “MEPs asked to reconsider the proposal need to think about the impact their next decision will have on our free press and on the future of professional journalism – and what message they want to communicate to the world about democracy and fairness in Europe,” they conclude.

The Publishers’ right:

     gives publishers the legal standing already enjoyed by music, film and broadcasters which the press needs to assert its copyright online

     encourages companies that wish to re-use and monetise publishers’ content to negotiate licences

     excludes individuals from the scope of the right – their right to share links will remain untouched

     entitles journalists to a fair share of any additional licence revenue granted by the Right

     specifically excludes hyperlinks from the scope of protection

     is essential for small newspapers and magazines with their numerous journalistic digital start-ups across Europe who have even greater challenges than large publishing groups when attempting to exercise their rights against US corporations.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of digital rights campaigning body the Open Rights Group said: “Round one of the Robo-Copyright wars is over. The EU Parliament has recognised that machine censorship of copyright material is not an easy and simple fix. They’ve heard the massive opposition, including Internet blackouts and 750,000 people petitioning them against these proposals.”

“Everyone across Europe who wants this fixed will have to work hard to make sure that Parliament comes up with a sensible way forward by September.”

“We congratulate our members for their hard work, and Julia Reda, Catherine Stihler, EDRi and others who have led the fight in Europe to stop these dreadful proposals.”

The Association of Commercial Television in Europe, on behalf of the cultural and creative sectors, noted that the European parliament needs more time to reach a position on copyright reform.

“We look to parliamentarians to support good copyright rules that are key to a sustainable and vibrant creative economy online and offline. The cultural and creative industries represent 4.5 per cent of EU GDP and 12 million European jobs. We are the heart and soul of Europe’s plurality and rich identities. We need an Internet that is fair and sustainable for all,” they said in a joint declaration.

Categories: Articles, Policy, Regulation, Rights