BPI says next Stormzy's future at stake ahead of key EU copyright vote

The British Phonographic Industry is calling on MEPs to back proposed law changes.

The future of the next Stormzy and Dua Lipa is at stake ahead of a key vote on EU online copyright law on Thursday, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has said.

The BPI’s chief executive Geoff Taylor has called on MEPs to back proposed changes, which he believes would force large online platforms like YouTube to pay songwriters and performers fairly for the use of their work.

One of the potential law changes centres around a piece of draft legislation known as Article 13.

It suggests that websites can continue to house music videos but must ensure that copyrighted works are not available where a licence has not been agreed for its use.

Taylor said that unless the changes were backed, UK recorded music revenues would remain significantly less than their peak of 20 years ago.

He said: “Billions of views of music videos are clocked up each year on services like YouTube, but video still contributes only 3.2% of the income generated by UK recorded music.

“This is because tech giants hide behind ‘safe harbours’ from liability to avoid paying fair royalties to the artists concerned.

“This antiquated EU rule has undermined creators’ incomes and investment in new talent, distorting the market for digital services by creating a ‘value gap’ with licensed services that pay fairly.

“The status quo is holding back both creativity and innovation. MEPs should ensure music and technology flourish together, through freely-negotiated licence deals.

“For the sake of the next Dua Lipa or Stormzy and the next Spotify, let’s hope they pass this measure.”

Lobby groups have criticised the proposed changes saying it risks the future of remixes and memes, typically humorous edits of short videos that are spread by online users.

Campaigners say that if Article 13 is passed it will prevent free and creative sharing of content on the internet.

Many leading technology figures, including the co-founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, have also voiced their opposition to the proposed law change.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is among the technology leaders to oppose Article 13 (Yui Mok/PA)

A spokesman for Google, which owns YouTube, said: “The success of our partners has always been core to our work at YouTube, and to delivering great services for people.

“That’s why we have music licensing agreements all over the world, including in Europe.

“Through these agreements, we pay the majority of our revenue to partners, amounting to over a billion dollars for the music industry in the last 12 months.

“We’ve always believed there’s a better way than this proposal, and that innovation and partnership are the keys to a successful, diverse and sustainable creative sector in the EU.

“For both European creators and consumers, it’s vital to preserve the principles of linking, sharing and creativity on which so much of the web’s success is built.”

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