Debates intensify ahead of Parliamentary vote

11 September 2018

In a similar fashion to the Italian Wikipedia “black out” in July, German OpenStreetMap have reportedly made their map unusable in protest of the proposed Copyright Directive. Other opponents of the reform, including Siada El Ramly (executive director of EDiMA) have also voiced their concerns regarding the proposed legislation. In particular, they have highlighted how debates have descended into a dichotomy of tech giants vs artists/creators, which neglects the “crux of the matter”, namely the value brought to the European economy by internet platforms. Artists Neil Gaiman and Stephen Fry, who has opposed the reform throughout, have continued to tweet in support of it’s rejection.

The music industry has continued to support the reform, with the International Council for Creators of Music sending a letter to MEPs urging them to vote in favour of the new Directive. Not only does the Council express support for article 13, but also the “transparency triangle” of articles 14 through 16. The letter also notes that:

“There is good evidence that the narrow vote of earlier this summer was largely influenced by powerful non-EU technology interests in a cynical, automated and wildly inaccurate campaign.”

UK Music continues to support the reform, calling the debate a “battle for the heart and soul of our creative music industry”, and a matter of “standing up to … a massive corporate bully [(Google)]”. Lord Michael Grade, writing in an editorial comment for the British Phonographic Industry, views the Copyright Directive as means of ending a “great injustice” by internet platforms.

Dissenters from this general stance taken by the music industry include artist Wyclef Jean, who denies the existence of any such “value gap”, and urges artists to “embrace” platform communities.

EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel has spoken in favour of the reform, claiming it is necessary for the benefit of creators, press, citizens and European platforms:

“None of the positions now on the table will destroy the internet or prevent citizens from sharing hyperlinks, parodic images or their wedding memories. None of the positions is a threat to free encyclopaedias like Wikipedia; none of the positions will destroy European cultural heritage”

Nonetheless, some sources claim that MEPs are decidedly split over the reform, even inter-group. MEP Michele Rivasi (French Green), claimed that the debate is “not [about] scientific expertise, it’s [about your] social and political view”; other MEPs note that the technicality of the Directive language means experts should be relied on.