In an open letter to the EU and European national officials who are negotiating the final form of the new Copyright Directive (by all accounts, a hot mess), some of the largest rightsholder groups and corporations in Europe — sports leagues and movie studios — have condemned the direction negotiations have gone in and asked to have their content removed from the scope of the Directive.
The controversy is over Article 13 — a rule requiring that online platforms never allow a user to display an unlicensed copyrighted work, not even for an eyeblink — which was heavily promoted by the music industry and its lobbyists.
The sports leagues and movie studios have broken with the record labels, arguing that the European courts have recently ruled that companies like Google might have more liability than Article 13 would heap upon them, and warning that passing Article 13 would give the Big Tech companies more power.
So they're asking for all the negotiation on Article 13 since 2016 be torn up, and the process restarted — something that's effectively impossible — and that otherwise, movies and sports matches be exempted from Article 13's rules.
That latter would be, if anything, even worse than Article 13 on its own: two conflicting liability regimes that only the very, very largest companies could navigate. Article 13 on its own is very likely to drive all the European competitors to US Big Tech out of business, but Article 13 in combination with the liability system promoted by the signatories of this letter would certainly leave US Big Tech as the only possible players in the online world.
But a more likely outcome is that Article 13 will simply be scuttled by this division on the rightsholder side. Nearly everyone now hates Article 13: movie studios, sports leagues, technical experts, legal scholars, privacy experts, competition experts. A few large music companies and a few artists' groups who've mistaken their interests as being the same as the interests the corporations they do business with are the only defenders Article 13 has left.
Nearly 4,000,000 Europeans have signed a petition objecting to Article 13: why don't you join them now?
The companies say that Article 13 will give more power to Google and the other Big Tech companies it was supposed to rein in, and make it harder for entertainment companies to negotiate favorable deals with the tech sector. They demand that the negotiators finalising the Directive remove their products from Article 13's scope, unless the negotiators want to roll back the Article 13 language to its 2016 state, an essentially impossible outcome.
Support for Article 13 is evaporating. EU Member States have come out against it. Nearly 4,000,000 Europeans have signed a petition opposing it, and independent scholars and experts have objected to it from the start.
In a Letter To The EU, European Film Companies and Sports Leagues Disavow Article 13, Say It Will Make Big Tech Stronger
[Cory Doctorow/EFF Deeplinks]