Article 13 debate continues: Facebook “duplicity” and rightsholder divisions

25 January 2019

Following the failed Council vote last week, debates have intensified on article 13 from rightsholders and platforms alike.

John Phelan, Director General of ICMP (representing, amongst others, Sony and Warner/Chappell) spoke via Music Business Worldwide on the need for a “clear solution to the Value Gap” rather than an “unclear final stab at it”. Agreeing that the Romanian Presidency’s version of the draft Directive was “desperately deficient”, Phelan is still hopeful that a majority of supporters are behind the introduction of article 13. Throughout, Phelan refers to objectors of the new proposals as “anti-copyright”.

Elsewhere, Scottish author Ken MacLeod, released a statement via Medium stating his opposition to article 13 which he describes as “[d]rafted with scary imprecision”:

“The European Parliament would do well to ditch the offending articles, leave creators and publishers to deal with egregious rip-offs of their work, and leave the rest of us to meme and link and parody and remix as we please.”

Despite public statements of opposition to article 13 via CCIA (a trade organisation), Facebook has reportedly been in contact with the European Commission on the merits of their content identification and filtering technologies (including Audible Magic, a company also accused of heavy lobbying), apparently in an effort to assure legislators that new liability measures are unnecessary. Facebook reportedly also stated a preference for “collaborating and relying on technology rather than complex legislation”, claiming that their Community Standards (Terms of Use) were a more flexible and open instrument of user regulation (leading to accusations of privatised law enforcement). Such behaviour has been percieved as duplicitous by commentators, as Facebook has apparently been attempting to advocate for the very technology it has simultaneously publicly opposed.