Fight Against YouTube Goes International

More than 1,000 artists have signed an open letter European Commission President Jean-Claud Juncker demanding companies like YouTube be held responsible for copyright infringement.

If this sounds familiar, it should—the letter comes just weeks after nearly 200 artists made similar requests of the US Congress.

In the EU letter, the artists say that music is “fundamental to Europe’s culture. It enriches people’s lives and contributes significantly to our economies,” but there exists a potentially disastrous situation as music consumption far outpaces compensation.

The future of music as a keystone of culture “is jeopardized by a substantial ‘value gap’ caused by user upload services such as Google’s YouTube that are unfairly siphoning value away from the music community and its artists and songwriters,” say the petitioners, artists ranging from Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney to Lady Gaga and France’s former first lady, Carla Bruni. The gap “undermines the rights and revenues of those who create, invest in and own music, and distorts the marketplace. This is because, while music consumption is at record highs, user upload services are misusing ‘safe harbour’ exemptions.”

The petitioners call on the European Commission to capitalize on the upcoming review of the EU’s copyright legislation to address and identify appropriate use of safe harbour provisions. “We urge you to take action now to create a fair playing field for artists and rights owners. In doing so, you will be securing the future of music for generations to come. We hope we can work with you to create a sustainable and thriving music sector for Europe.”

The full letter, and the full list of more than 1,000 signers, can be found here.

The effort was orchestrated by two organizations, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA). In a statement released June 30, IMPALA’s Executive Chair Helen Smith said, “The voice of artists in Europe is key and it’s great that more and more are speaking out. We look to Europe to take the lead. The value gap is costing millions and it is essential to address it to ensure proper value along the chain.”

This letter came just weeks after some 58 members of Parliament signed onto a letter asking the Commission to protect copyright holders by making more clear the status of YouTube and other similar content providers. The next day, June 22, Paris-based International Artist Organization called on the European Commission to address the value gap. In that letter the group said that while YouTube is great for exposure, “it is all too close to services which pay up to ten times more” without being able to “reconcile against the proportion of revenue that usage delivers back to artists,” both reported by Billboard.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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