New EU presidency ‘unmissable opportunity’ to close value gap

european union

The EU’s incoming Bulgarian president Boyko Borisvo brings an ‘unmissable opportunity’ to address the issue of transfer of value from creators to digital platforms, industry experts have advised.

More than 20 organisations including the global collecting societies’ umbrella organisation CISAC and international recorded music body IFPI have called on the new leader to close the ‘value gap’.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Borisov, they said: ‘The value gap is the growing mismatch between the value that online User Uploaded Content (UUC) website services extract from creative content and the revenues returned to the creative community.

‘User uploaded content services have become vast distributors of our creative works e.g. film, music, photos, broadcasts, text and sport content – all while refusing to negotiate fair or any copyright licences with us as rightsholders.

‘This problem is caused by a lack of clarity surrounding the application of copyright to certain online services and the abuse of European copyright “safe harbour” rules in the e-Commerce Directive by those services.’

The letter, which arrived in time for a key copyright meeting in Brussels today (Wednesday), went on to say that Bulgaria’s EU presidency provides the ‘unmissable opportunity for a solution’ as it will lead the Council’s work on the new EU Copyright Directive proposal.

The organisations specifically call for UUC services to be obliged to obtain licences for their use of copyright works, unless they are specifically eligible for safe harbour allowances.

They also call on the European Council to acknowledge that UUC platforms which play an active role in the promotion or optimisation of content cannot benefit from the safe harbour loophole.

John Mottram, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at PRS for Music, has signalled the organisation’s support for the letter, saying: ‘PRS for Music is working closely with representatives from across the creative sectors to secure the essential copyright reforms necessary for a well-functioning digital market.

‘Ambiguity in the current copyright right law is allowing some platforms to generate vast incomes by making available creative works, while paying little or nothing to the creators’ of those works.

‘This letter, which comes at a pivotal time in the legislative process, is an important reminder that a successful creative industry depends upon a copyright regime which protects creators’ rights to be paid for the use of their works.’

Alongside the IFPI and CISAC, signatories number organisations representing authors, performers, publishers, filmmakers, TV producers, football leagues and photo agencies across the continent.

Learn more about safe harbour.