After Two Years of EU Deliberations, Article 13 Text Is Finalized — And Headed for a Vote

The finalized Article 13 text is either a breakthrough, a disaster, or something in-between — depending on the organization you talk to.

It’s done.

After more than two years of EU deliberations, thousands of hours of hearings and endless debates, a finalized version of the Copyright Directive has been submitted.  The Copyright Directive includes the controversial Article 13, once a slam dunk for the music industry but now the focus of industry in-fighting.

The wrapped-up “Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market” was submitted on Wednesday evening, and shuttled to EU legal departments for review.  The EU is expecting a finalized version in the March or April timeframe.

The text was hammered out by three major EU groups: the European Commission, the EU Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. That ‘trilogue’ discussion process was constantly buffeted by special interest lobbying, including intense efforts by Google and its critical YouTube subsidiary to soften the measure.

That effort included YouTube Music chief Lyor Cohen, who campaigned aggressively against the original Article 13 language.

More recently, a contingent of French and German negotiators forged a brand-new version of the Directive, including Article 13.  But that effort was also decried as poison by the tech industry, with large and small factions decrying the measure as too harsh.

Initially, the battle was pitched between IP owners and tech giants like Google.

But once the language of the bill started to morph, the music industry found itself in a civil war of disagreement.  One critical issue was whether copyright restrictions were strict enough, and liabilities punishing enough to really impact change.

Just last week, a joint letter from the IFPI, ICMP, IMPALA urged the cancellation of the Directive.  That was supported by other heavyweights within the online video, sports, and broadcasting sectors.

Still, one of the largest European music industry IP groups is backing the finalized text, even though its contents remain private.  “Online platforms will finally have to pay authors a fair remuneration for the usage of their works,” GEMA’s president, Harald Heker, stated late Wednesday.

But what does the updated Directive say, exactly?

“It is often ignored that the European Parliament and the Member States have continuously developed the contents of the Directive further in intensive debates,” Heker noted.  “The draft of the Directive that we now have in front of us imposes a higher level of responsibility onto the online platforms and strengthens the position of creators as well as internet users at the same time.”

“For music authors, this would be an important step for which GEMA has been fighting for a long time. It is now up to the European Parliament to give green lights for a modern copyright.”

GESAC, the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers, has also endorsed the latest Directive.

Sounds positive, though German media conglomerate Bertelsmann has declared the reworked directive a disappointment.   “With the adoption of the EU Copyright Directive, there are more disadvantages than advantages for us,” the conglomerate stated.

YouTube declined to offer a comment until the final text has been reviewed.  “Copyright reform needs to benefit everyone — including European creators and consumers, small publishers and platforms,” the video platform stated.

“We’ll be studying the final text of the EU Copyright Directive and it will take some time to determine next steps. The details will matter, so we welcome the chance to continue conversations across Europe.”

More as this develops.

5 Responses

  1. Jeroen Hellingman

    It is a shame this “battle” is framed as a battle between big rights-holders and big tech. It is not. It is also not a battle about fair remuneration for authors — especially when this term is understood to include artists and musicians — since the rights-holders will collect the additional fees. In fact, they actually fought provisions that would redirect part of it to authors. Unfortunately, this entire battle is between the large publishers and the public, as it uses an sledgehammer approach to solve the issue of unauthorized uploading that is fairly limited (and for which already numerous remedies exists which publisher choose not to use). This is especially true when compared to the significant harm this will do to the capability of the public and lesser known artists to publish their works.

  2. Bob Jones

    I’ll rehash my previous comment here gain, ’cause nobody seems to notice nor care:

    The fact that this article got zero comments, to me, means that nobody gives a rat’s ass about this awful copyright directive designed by the stooges in the EU. I’m baffled that artists honestly believe that locking up an open internet behind a copyright directive is going to magically line their pockets. I am a local, modestly known artist myself, I hand out all my music online based on a ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ basis and over the years I’ve managed to obtain a great, great crowd of fans that come to my live performances. For almost a decade now, I’m able to live well this way. That was always my wish and goal: to be able to live well off my own music. And I can – yes I can. I have no record deal, no record company, distributor or any other middle man siphoning off money from me, no, I make all my money myself. My ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ principle works for me and on average, people pay somewhere between 5 to 10 Euros when they download one of my album packages. I have around 300 to 350 downloads a month (give or take a high or a low every now and then) and out of all those downloads, about 100 to 200 people pay. This harvests, on average, about 1000 Euros a month. If I add to that the money that I make while touring, you can do the math yourself: my **after tax** income, per month, is around 3000 – 4000 Euros. Believe me: that’s more than enough to live comfortably – you don’t need to be a millionaire for it. Why do I tell everyone this? Because for my own distribution, I lean heavily on the internet to post my material wherever I want to, whenever I want to. I don’t need an article 13 for that, ’cause it’ll basically make it impossible for me to ever upload my own music again, ’cause the liabilities for platforms will become so enormous that they’d rather block my uploads than assuming that it’ll be alright. I don’t want to “license” my music to anyone. I’m already selling more than enough as it is. Those who really take the time to read the full copyright directive and especially article 13, can not in their right mind say that it’s alright. It’s also a major red flag to me that especially the big film- and record corporations are “in support” of this awful law. But it makes sense: there where everyone else paid attention and noticed the massive opportunities the internet offers, and I’m talking way back in the days, 1997/1998 in my case, the known companies were kicking and screaming blue murder and refused to innovate. Now, 20 years down the road, the only option they had was to do what they’ve done best over the years: lobby and spend billions of dollars to get what they want, how they want it. And so we end up in a world where everything has to be licensed, ’cause god forbid they change their business models. We’re flashing ourselves back into time with this directive folks and nobody seems to give a flying f**k. Well, not in my name. And if you’re a modern, innovative and creative artist and you support this law, then you simply have not read properly into this bill and you will remain nothing more than an industry puppet who probably signed away more than you knew then. You can talk to me all you want about how much more you can make through having your music in movies, commercials, compilations, etc etc, but again: I’m living off of my music and I’m living well. And that’s what I always wanted as a kid and I’m doing it. I’m living my dream. I’m not making music to become a millionaire. How much is enough for you anyway? Is money really the one and only reason you’re making music? I want to live as an artist, in completely creative independence and I can. You can do it, too. But you have to be creative and not depend on the beaten path of industry shills that’ll tell you that you’re going to be large. Oh yes, I’ve spent blood, sweat and tears on my music. Not to mention the money I invest in recording. But that’s exactly what it is: an investment. And it pays off for me, without any involvement from “the industry”. Article 13 should be removed and not be supported.

  3. Anonymous

    One reason why no one has commented may be that — like everything else I’ve seen on Article 13 this week — the actual text that was agreed is not available. The *official* version, not someone’s “leaked” or “unofficial” version.

    Otherwise IMHO none of the ink/pixels spent analyzing this thing means anything without the actual text; it’s all speculation or opinions based on other people’s opinions or political positions.

    So, where is it????

    • Anonymous

      You’re right. But I’ve decided not to care anymore. Modern artists who don’t even have the slightest clue of what their support of article 13 will lead to, will be effed no matter how you look at it, and I’m done talking to them. I make a living out of uploading my own music wherever I want to and gather my own fans and none of these professional dicks seem to be able to wrap their heads around it. I’m making a comfortable living without any record deal and still these suckers INSIST that only the old skool shit they adhere to will magically line their pockets; I’m done with it. Locking up the internet behind copyright regulations will only lead to more for the record corps, and less for their artists. Good luck, guys, I have a 5 grand live show to do tonight, all based on me sharing my music for FREE or ‘pay what you want’ online. I’m not even going to listen to your whining any more. “Thrilled” about article 13? You’re either an industry shill, a liar or a deliberately ignorant, third rate, bad musician. F u. We have moved on and you haven’t. You need bad laws to secure your income? Maybe you should reconsider the quality of your music. I’m independent, I live comfortably, I share my music online and I’ve consistently performed live for almost a decade now. Stop whining and start being an entrepreneur. You’ll be amazed to see the limitless options you have.

      • Bob Jones

        Not anonymous; my name is Bob Jones. I’ve responded here before.