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European Commission unveils Digital Single Market plans, artist community expresses concern

By | Published on Thursday 7 May 2015


After months of chatter about the so called ‘digital single market’, yesterday the European Commission finally unveiled its plans for harmonising rules and bringing down national barriers within the European Union when it comes to digital services and platforms.

And while the content industries hope that the whole DSM initiative will provide a platform via which some of the copyright reforms they’ve been pushing for can be pursued – mainly to the detriment of the tech giants like Google – plans for removing barriers to digital trade and consumption within the EU could force some less welcome changes onto the entertainment industry too.

Launching its plans yesterday, the EC said: “The Commission wants to ensure that users who buy films, music or articles at home can also enjoy them while travelling across Europe. [We] will also look at the role of online intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected works”.

Lobbyists and trade groups across the music industry will be looking carefully at the DSM proposals, with some issues uniting all stakeholders in the business. Though there will be disagreements too. And yesterday those representing artists and managers in the UK hit out at the rather lacklustre provisions for reviewing and boosting performer and creator rights within the DSM project.

In a joint statement, the Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition said: “We welcome the harmonisation of copyright exceptions and helping consumers to access paid for content wherever they are in the EC. And the adoption of the ‘follow the money’ approach with regard to commercial scale online infringement is something we have championed for several years now and it should be the major plank to reduce piracy”.

“However” they went on, “the document only say ‘measures to safeguard fair remuneration of creators also need to be considered in order to encourage the future generation of content’. [In fact] there are legislative issues that should be adopted now to aid creators”.

Expanding on that claim, FAC CEO Paul Pacifico told reporters: “The creative economy simply doesn’t exist without creators. If we don’t make sure creators get paid a fair share from the commercial exploitation of their music online, we will not have a sustainable industry for the future. We hoped the European Commission would go further in their blueprint”.

Getting more specific about the areas where the FAC wants reform at the European level, Pacifico went on: “The ‘making available right’, which was meant to reward creators in the digital age, has failed as most artists simply do not have the negotiating power to get a good deal from the players who dominate the music landscape. We urgently need action to give performers an unassignable right that guarantees transparent remuneration to deliver real and transparent value to performers and to reassure consumers that the artists they love are actually getting paid”.