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UK Music calls on MEPs to back copyright directive, confirms cross-party support on business rate discount for venues

By | Published on Thursday 28 February 2019

UK Music

Cross-sector trade group UK Music has called on MEPs to back the final draft of the European Copyright Directive when the European Parliament votes on the latest version of the frequently controversial copyright reforms.

Representatives of the Parliament, European Commission and EU Council agreed a final draft earlier this month and earlier this week it was voted through by the former’s legal affairs committee. The last major hurdle for the reforms to cross is a vote of the full Parliament, where critics remain of the directive, and especially the music industry backed safe harbour reforming article thirteen. The full EU Council must also vote it all through.

The music community has been pretty united in lobbying for that safe harbour reform which will increase the copyright liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube.

Though as the very final draft was being negotiated, reps for the record labels and music publishers expressed concerns about the direction article thirteen was taking and announced that they now thought the directive should be abandoned altogether.

This angered groups repping artists and songwriters, which pointed out that, alongside article thirteen, there are other measures in the directive designed to increase their rights over their corporate business partners, ie labels and publishers.

However, UK Music brings together trade organisations for labels, publishers, artists and songwriters, and – following this week’s legal affairs vote – it urged EU law-makers to now see the directive through to completion.

It said in a statement: “UK Music and its members have always supported constructive steps to foster a fair music licensing environment that benefits creators, performers and those who invest in them. We have campaigned for this together through [our] #LoveMusic [campaign] and the final compromise text of the copyright directive is a notable step in that direction”.

“In relation to article thirteen”, it continued, “we welcome the fact that the compromise text clearly establishes that online content sharing service providers should not be entitled to avoid the need to secure licences from rightsholders. As has been widely reported, the text of this article in particular has been the subject of fierce and passionate debate and the final result includes a number of compromises”.

“With this in mind, we ask the EU Council and MEPs to support the directive”, it said, before noting that, even once passed, each EU member state must implement the reforms. To that end, UK Music concluded: “We [also] call on individual member states to ensure that the copyright directive, if successfully adopted, is implemented in a way that achieves its original purpose and benefits the whole of the industry”.

Elsewhere in UK Music news, the lobbying group has confirmed that it now has cross-party support in Westminster for music venues being added to a list of company types that benefit from a business rates discount. UK Music and the Music Venue Trust hit out at the government earlier this year when it was confirmed that, while pubs and restaurants benefit from the discount, grassroots music venues do not. Despite a recent rejig of business rates already causing big problems for the grassroots venue network.

UK Music boss Michael Dugher and Labour’s Shadow Culture Minister Kevin Brennan have met with the government’s top money man, Chancellor Philip Hammond, to discuss the problem. Meanwhile, Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, including Tories Ed Vaizey and Greg Knight and Lib Dem Jane Bonham-Carter, have all backed the a call for the Chancellor to provide a lifeline to venues facing business breaking rate hikes.

On the recent meeting with Hammond, Dugher said: “I’m pleased that the Chancellor listened to what we had to say about why we need a specific targeted change on business rates to safeguard the future of so many of our cherished grassroots venues. Grassroots music venues are a crucial part of the music ecosystem that generates future talent for an industry that contributes £4.5 billion to our economy”.

“The current position discriminates against music venues compared to pubs and bars”, the UK Music CEO continued. “Unless the Chancellor revisits this issue, there is a very real danger that too many venues will have to turn off the music or even shut down for good. If UK plc wants to retain its preeminent position as being a world leader in music, our industry needs the strategic support of government”.

Meanwhile, Brennan added: “In last year’s UK Live Music Census, 33% of small music venues reported that business rates increases had an ‘extreme, strong or moderate’ impact on their existence in the past twelve months. The Chancellor must recognise the importance of these venues as the R&D of the UK’s successful music industry and extend the rates discount given to pubs to protect their future”.

“In an age where stadium gigs are increasingly expensive, independent music venues are accessible, inclusive and affordable places for everybody to experience live music”, the MP continued. “These venues are the lifeblood of the £4.5 billion music industry, providing much needed opportunities for up and comers and local talent to learn and develop their craft”.