EC copyright reforms are ‘genuine opportunity’ for rightsholders, says expert

PRS for Music

The European Commission’s (EC) new copyright reforms are ‘a genuine opportunity to right the balance’ in the digital music market, a PRS for Music policy expert has said.

John Mottram, head of public affairs at the society, told a composers’ seminar yesterday (Tuesday) that the draft legislation will help stem the transfer of value from creators to user-uploaded content platforms.

‘If you’d asked me five weeks ago if we were going to get this, I would’ve said it was very unlikely. So this is genuinely an opportunity to right the balance of those platforms which have been the barrier to the streaming market growing over the last decade.’

The proposals, first published on 14 September, state that any platform hosting user-uploaded content, such as YouTube, Vevo or Daily Motion, is liable for copyright.

It also clarified that, in order to enjoy so-called safe harbour hosting protections from copyright, the service must not promote or optimise copyright works in any way.

Mottram added: ‘These are the two things we asked for. Clarity on liability and the safe harbour hosting defence.

‘In simple terms, any service which is hosting rightsholders’ works, whether it’s uploaded by label or a fan, and is also providing recommendations or aggregation or promotion of those works, will have to obtain a licence and provide a fair revenue stream back to creators.’

The EC also added another important strand to its proposed reforms: a new obligation for any service hosting large amounts of user-uploaded content to deploy appropriate, proportionate measures to allow rightsholders to block that content.

‘In effect, we’ve created an automated notice and stay-down system and we have the control to say we don’t want our works on YouTube or other services,’ Mottram added.

‘The proposals have certainly raised some questions that we as an industry are grappling with, but do they tick all the boxes? Probably not all of them, but it’s pretty close.’

The European Copyright Reform and What It Means For Songwriters, Composers and Publishers seminar took place at PRS for Music’s London HQ on 11 October.

Alongside Mottram, BASCA chairman Crispin Hunt presented to a gathering of songwriters and composers.

PRS for Music welcomes European Commission’s copyright reform proposals