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GEMA’s call for a fair copyright received in the EU Parliament

Wednesday, 20 June 2018, the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs has through a landmark vote spoken out to strengthen the rights of creators vis-à-vis online platforms. The reg-ulation is part of the forthcoming EU copyright reform. It promotes the conclusion of license agreements between online platforms and copyright holders, lyricists, composers and other crea-tors which, going forwards, should allow a fair remuneration for the use of their works.

’The European Parliament sends a clear signal, that Europe no longer tolerates the transfer of val-ue from creators to platform operators’, the CEO of GEMA, Dr. Harald Heker commented. ‘Online platforms must finally fulfil their responsibility towards authors that arise from their central mar-ket position.’

At its core, the present EU draft directive aims to promote the conclusion of licensing agreements between online platforms and rights holders. In Dr. Harald Heker’s words: ‘Licensing agreements lead in practice to users being able to upload legally more works protected by copyright on the platforms. In return the creators get a fair remuneration for the use of their works.’

Under the existing legislation it is possible for so-called ‘user uploaded content’-platforms such as YouTube to contest a payment obligation for the used content, by representing themselves as simple infrastructure providers. Since 2016 a copyright reform under the heading Value Gap resp. Transfer of Value, has been in discussion, which aims to take into account the developments of the digital market.

‘Such a regulation is years overdue’, according to the Chairman of GEMA, Dr. Ralf Weigand. ‘We, as music creators, want our works to be heard by people on the internet. We also however call for the platform operators to appropriately share with music authors the proceeds generated from their works. This should be self-evident.’

Despite assertions to the contrary, the EU Parliament text does not stipulate a requirement to use ‘upload-filters’. Online platforms must however take ‘appropriate and proportionate steps’, to guarantee the protection of the works when no license agreements are in place. In this respect the regulation falls short of the obligations which German courts regularly enforce against online ser-vices as part of the Breach of Duty of Care framework. GEMA Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs-und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte www.gema.de 2

More recently over 30,000 creators took part in the Make the Internet Fair petition. In the context of the imminent reform, they all called for the EU-Institutions to hold online platforms to account and to remunerate creative services fairly.

It is expected that in early July the EU Parliament will adopt the report agreed by the Committee on Legal Affairs. The EU Parliament, Council and the Commission will then, as part of the so-called tripartite negotiations, need to agree on a final text. In the Council the EU member states had, at the end of May, already spoken in favour of a clarification of the copyright responsibility of online platforms.

GEMA represents the copyrights of more than 72,000 members (composers, lyricists and music publishers) in Germany, and more than two million copyright owners globally. It is one of the larg-est societies for authors of musical works in the world. Since 2007, GEMA has been represented in Brussels via a liaison office.

Further links:
Petition of the creators: www.MakeInternetFair.eu
Pages relating to the copyright reform on gema-politik.de
Position of the EU member states (May 2018)
Opinion of the German government on Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive

Press contact:
Ursula Goebel, Communications Director  E-Mail: ugoebel@gema.de, Phone: +49 89 48003-426
Nadine Remus, Senior Kommunikationsmanagerin E-Mail: nremus@gema.de, Phone: +49 89 48003-583