Labour MEPs: New EU copyright laws will ensure creators get paid for their work and enable expressives to carry on memeing

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Creators and publishers of copyrighted content will receive fair remuneration for their work, with online freedom of expression protected following the European Parliament's approval of new EU copyright laws this week.

The new directive includes two key articles that had been subject to misinformation that claimed freedoms would be curbed: Article 11 concerns the protection of press publications and their digital use - the article protects the use of content and seeks to remunerate publishers and writers whose copy is appropriated by third party publishers; Article 13 concerns the use of protected content by online sharing service providers - it addresses the ‘value gap’ by ensuring musicians and performers are remunerated if their work appears on user-uploaded video platforms.

Pending the rubber-stamping of the directive by EU ministers, governments will have two years to implement the new laws.

Mary Honeyball MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on legal affairs, said:

"These new laws will ensure the internet is no longer a lawless, Wild West free-for-all outwith the writ of copyright law that all other platforms have been subject to since the Age of Enlightenment. The likes of YouTube, Facebook and Google will no longer be able to appropriate content without cost.

"And contrary to all the myths that have been peddled by the doom-mongers against change, there will be no censorship or limits on free speech and no bans on hyperlinks or parodying, nor were there ever any proposals for such measures. Memes are safe. Gifs aren't banned. Links are allowed. Snippets haven't been cut.

"Above all, workers will receive fair remuneration for their work - artists, writers, musicians, indeed all creators and publishers of original content are not adequately protected under the current rules, and that is why it is vital we now have these long-overdue updates to copyright law.

"Thousands of jobs in Britain depend on the creative industries, which contribute hundreds of millions of pounds to the economy and are one of our fastest growing sectors; the new copyright law is yet another example of the EU working, and Britain and Britons benefiting from our membership."

Theresa Griffin MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on industry, said:

"These new laws will ensure creative workers get fairly paid for their work and are not exploited by large online platforms. It closes the value gap, and generates income to reinvest in content and create new work.

"Creative workers should be fairly remunerated. Would we dream of turning to other EU workers and ask them to give their work for free? Would those who are opposed to the proposals be expected to work for free? Would anyone?

"At present, internet companies have little incentive to sign fair licensing agreements with rights holders, because they are not considered liable for the content that their users upload. Making internet companies liable will strengthen the ability of rights holders - from musicians and performers to script writers and journalists - to secure fair licensing agreements, thereby obtaining fairer remuneration for the use of their works exploited digitally.

"This is about values, paying creative workers properly for their work, protecting them against exploitation and ending the unfair monopoly of big platforms."

Julie Ward MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on culture, added:

"This is the biggest reform of EU copyright law for 15 years, and will curb the tech giants' power over online content, including news and current affairs. Crucially, it will ensure creative artists are fairly rewarded for their work. This reform package will address the unfair situation that means a song needs to be streamed 50 million times on YouTube before the artist can expect to earn the average UK salary.

"Copyright ensures authors, composers, artists, film-makers and other creators receive recognition, payment and protection for their works. It rewards creativity and stimulates investment in the creative sector.

"Our work at the European Parliament was therefore concerned with rebalancing the relationship between small independent artists just starting out in their careers and big businesses who profit from them. Creators are workers and deserve to have the same rights and protections as all other workers across the EU - as Labour MEPs we will continue to stand up for workers' rights and stand up to exploitative practices wherever we find them."

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Notes to Editors:

These are the key points from the new directive:

  1. Tech giants to share revenue with artists and journalists: The directive aims to enhance rights holders’ chances, notably musicians, performers and script authors, (creatives) as well as news publishers, to negotiate better remuneration deals for the use of their works when these feature on internet platforms. It does this by making internet platforms directly liable for content uploaded to their site and by automatically giving the right to news publishers to negotiate deals on behalf of its journalists for news stories used by news aggregators.
  2. Locking in freedom of expression: Numerous provisions are specifically designed to ensure the internet remains a space for freedom of expression. As sharing snippets of news articles is specifically excluded from the scope of the directive, it can continue exactly as before. However, the directive also contains provisions to avoid news aggregators abusing this. The ‘snippet’ can therefore continue to appear in a Google News newsfeeds, for example, or when an article is shared on Facebook, provided it is “very short”. Uploading protected works for quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody or pastiche has been protected even more than it was before, ensuring that memes and gifs will continue to be available and shareable on online platforms.
  3. Many online platforms will not be affected: The text also specifies that uploading works to online encyclopedias in a non-commercial way, such as Wikipedia, or open source software platforms, such as GitHub, will automatically be excluded from the scope of this directive. Start-up platforms will be subject to lighter obligations than more established ones.
  4. Stronger negotiating rights for authors and performers: Authors and performers will be able to claim additional remuneration from the distributor exploiting their rights when the remuneration originally agreed is disproportionately low when compared to the benefits derived by the distributor.
  5. Helping cutting edge research and preserving heritage: The directive aims to make it easier for copyrighted material to be used freely through text and data mining, thereby removing a significant competitive disadvantage that European researchers currently face. It also stipulates that copyright restrictions will not apply to content used for teaching or illustration. The directive also allows copyrighted material to be used free-of-charge to preserve cultural heritage. Out-of-commerce works can be used where no collective management organisation exists that can issue a license.

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