Music creators lobby EU to fix ‘value gap’

european union

More than half a million music creators have lobbied the European Parliament to request a ‘meaningful and innovative solution’ to the transfer of value in the digital music marketplace.

In an open letter addressed to members of the European Parliament (MEPs), songwriter and composer groups representing the interests of over 500,000 music creators from the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Europe have demanded the EU address the issue.

The letter supports the European Commission’s (EC) proposals to fix the transfer of value by clarifying that user-uploaded content platforms which store and provide access to copyright protected works are subject to copyright liability, and therefore must obtain licences from creators and rightsholders for the use of their work.

But the letter, coordinated by International Council of Music Creators (CIAM), also voices concern about amendments to the proposals, which would limit the transparency obligations for producers and publishers.

It says: ‘For instance, the amendment suggestion to limit the transparency obligation to these contractual relationships “where there are ongoing payment obligations” would incite producers and publishers to force creators into buy-out contracts and lump sum payments in order to avoid falling under these transparency obligations.’

It also calls for the introduction of a rights reversion mechanism, ‘which would allow authors to terminate a contract in case of non-transparency and in case of insufficient and lack of exploitation of the rights assigned to the publisher or producer’.

The letter continues: ‘The rights reversion mechanism would serve as a compliance mechanism for the transparency obligation set forth in article 14. Kindly note that US Copyright Law provides authors with a termination right 35 years after the contract signature. Why should EU authors be deprived from such a right?’

Finally, the letter urges MEPs to block any suggested amendments for user generated content (UGC) exceptions as advocated by technology companies and internet firms.

‘Since the suggested wording is so broad and lacks a corresponding definition, any user – including those representing political parties or extreme religious views – can take extracts out of copyright protected works and transform them into a totally different context and purpose.’

The letter comes to the European Parliament as the three committees debate amendments to the EU Copyright Package adopted last September. The plenary session of the European Parliament is expected to vote on amendments later in the summer. Read the full letter here.

Robert Ashcroft, chief executive of PRS for Music, recently voiced his concerns to M magazine about the value gap, calculating that rightsholders in the UK are missing out on around £100m in lost royalty revenues per year. Read the full interview.