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Music industry instigates final push ahead of big vote on EU copyright reforms tomorrow

By | Published on Monday 25 March 2019

European Commission

With the final, final, final, final vote on the bloody European Copyright Directive due to take place in the European Parliament tomorrow, the music community is having one big last push to try to persuade MEPs to back the copyright reforms. That, of course, includes the safe harbour reforming article thirteen, which seeks to increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube, and which the tech sector continues to lobby against hard.

One group of campaigners on the tech lobby side recently told MEPs that they’d be updating all of the law-makers’ Wikipedia entries with how they vote tomorrow. And a vote for the directive would be a vote against “the freedom of the world wide web”, those campaigners added, while also pointing out that all MEPs are up for re-election in May.

The music industry, of course, has accused Google and its supporters of spreading lots of misinformation about the directive and the potential impact of article thirteen. YouTube will just have to pay the music industry something closer to the market rate for the music it streams, reps argue, it will not be the end of the internet as we know it.

In an open letter last week, trade groups for artists, songwriters, managers and independent music companies also expressed concern about how Google has exploited its platform to get its arguments out to the masses, so to drown out those with opposing viewpoints.

The music bodies wrote: “No other media company in the broadcast business would be allowed to use its airwaves to get a competitive advantage over others in terms of advertising or to resort to political messaging in that way. Has YouTube abused its dominance? The answer is surely yes and this flags a much broader issue than copyright – who wields power in today’s online world and the extent to which it can be abused. This is a fundamental question for truth and democracy in Europe and the rest of the world”.

Like the open letter sent to YouTube boss Susan Wojcicki by GESAC and IMPALA last week, this actually takes the debate beyond the directive and onto the next big debating point in Brussels, ie the power and responsibilities of the big tech platforms.

But for now, getting the directive through remains the top priority. Debbie Harry is one of the bigger names to enter the debate on the music industry’s side at the very final stage, while a bunch of younger musicians are communicating their message to EU law-makers via a cover version of Snow Patrol’s ‘Just Say Yes’.

The vote is due tomorrow around lunchtime.