efore we will have various positions about the new (and now approved) EU Copyright directive discussed in our Rights Management thread at this year’s Reeperbahn Festival Conference, you might want to check the following article by the UK’s MMF chief executive Annabella Coldrick, who outlines the position of the Music Managers Forum.
Reeperbahn Festival: Why should the EU Copyright Directive be of interest to artists and managers?
Annabella Coldrick: Copyright legislation only gets an update every 15-20 years at European level. I worked on the last directive in Brussels in the early 2000s and, whilst the music industry and technology has changed dramatically since then due to first downloads, then streaming, the legal framework hasn’t. It’s important that this framework is modernised to reflect the current way music is used and consumed online. We want to guarantee that European artists share in the value of the use of their music by ensuring fair payment all the way through the value chain - from audience to artist - via all the players in between (digital platforms, labels, publishers, collecting societies).
Reeperbahn Festival: If the vote goes through in the European Parliament on September 12th what will it mean for the artists?
Annabella Coldrick: If the current proposal being discussed in Parliament is adopted, then this should level the licensing field across the digital music platforms and close legal loopholes. Theoretically this may lead to an increase in remuneration from the use of ad-funded music online. Services currently benefiting from ‘safe harbour’, a provision from the early days of the commercial web where ‘mere conduits’ are not liable for user generated content, will be required to licence in advance, not just take down music content uploaded by users. This is the controversial Article 13 everyone is talking about and the music industry is campaigning on.
Reeperbahn Festival: Article 13 isn't the only area of interest in the Copyright Directive - what else should people know about?
Annabella Coldrick: Alongside Artists associations, we’ve campaigned as managers to ensure that the new Copyright directive doesn’t just close the ‘value gap’ between some music services and rights-holders, but also ensures fair payment throughout the entire value chain. Articles 14-16 oblige fair and transparent accounting to music makers. A contract review mechanism for when remuneration originally agreed is disproportionately low to subsequent revenues, should enable artists contracts to be modernised through alternative dispute resolution, not the courts. This could be hugely beneficial for heritage artists on very low royalty rates and still seeing ‘packaging deductions’ on digital income.
The Parliament text also contains the ability for artists and songwriters to reclaim control of their rights where a label rights assignment contract is not fulfilled or broken (e.g. if they are not promoting your music to the audience or reporting to the artist at least once a year on its use). Finally, the text introduces independent audit rights of parties representing or controlling rights, not just for individual artists but as a collective, this could be a game changer in the event of structural reporting failures.
Reeperbahn Festival: How likely are these other Articles to be voted through?
Annabella Coldrick: We will know by the time of the Reeperbahn Festival as the European Parliament’s vote is due on the 12th September. Even if they do get voted through by the Parliament they will thereafter undergo negotiations with the European Council (of Member State governments) through a process called ‘conciliation’ which could take several months, so we will be campaigning to see that articles 14-16 are maintained. After all of this there will be an implementation period into national law. Even though we’re facing Brexit in the UK, we will campaign for their full transposition so UK artists can benefit from these new European provisions.
Reeperbahn Festival: Earlier this year, the MMF UK was involved with creation of a new pan-European body, EMMA. What is the purpose behind this?
Annabella Coldrick: Along with Music Manager colleagues in Finland, Sweden, Poland, France, Norway and the Netherlands we felt there was a need for a collective and representative voice of Music Managers at European level. Some of this group are members of the international IMMF but had no dedicated European representation on important issues such as the EU Copyright Directive or the Music Moves Europe programme which is why we worked together to found the European Music Managers Alliance or EMMA. We’re holding our first full Board meeting at this year’s Reeperbahn Festival followed by an open meeting for all music managers in town to discuss issues that matter to them. We have high hopes for increased cooperation and influence both with policy makers and the European Music Industry bodies.