Tech giants and Create.Refresh

Last December, we felt the need to express our concerns regarding the launch of the Create.Refresh project, which we found ethically inappropriate. Last week, we noted that this project is now finalised and widely exhibited in the Parliament, and we felt it was necessary to remind MEPs certain facts on the project and to underline why this Copyright Directive is so important for the entire community of authors in Europe, as well as the cultural and creative sector as a whole. You'll find the letter below.

 

Brussels, 5 April 2018

Dear MEPs,

It has come to our attention that MEP Wölken is organising an exhibition next week related to “Creators of European Digital Culture”, which is linked to the online campaign “Create.Refresh”.

Whilst we fully respect the organisers of this exhibition and the participating creators, we felt it was important to call your attention to the fact that Create.Refresh is a project which is paying artists to express themselves against article 13 of the draft Copyright Directive, under the pretext that such a provision would lead to censorship in the internet.  Its credibility and ethics are called into question given it is funded by organisations such as the Computer and Communication Industry Association (CCIA), which groups together companies such as Google and Facebook, and NGOs who receive financial help from Google, and who would benefit directly from article 13 being abandoned.     

This campaign, which claims to rally around 80 artists, does not even come close to representing the position of the vast majority of creators and authors. On the contrary, thousands of creators and authors from Europe and worldwide are calling for a European legislative framework that would allow them to be remunerated by huge platforms such as YouTube, who today behave as copyright free-riders. More than 24,000 creators have signed a petition (makeinternetfair.eu) to call for a meaningful solution to this transfer of value problem, on the basis of the Commission’s proposal. It has also been supported by organisations representing millions of creators in Europe and across the world, from composers to directors, journalists to screenwriters, visual artists and literary authors. Read our Joint Statements from October 2017 and January 2018.

Creators cherish above all their freedom of expression, which is part of their DNA, and they would certainly not promote or support any solution that would lead to censorship. However, they do need to be remunerated for the massive use of their works on the Internet by those UUC platforms.  This is necessary for them to be able to earn a living from their artistic activities and thus to contribute to the flourishing cultural creation, a core aspect of EU integration. In order for this to be possible, we need EU law to specify that these services need to obtain a licence from the rights holders.  Rapporteur MEP Voss is currently working on compromise amendments that we hope will allow this clarification in the law.

Freedom of expression is compatible with copyright and a meaningful solution should be adopted by the EP in article 13 of the Copyright Directive, on the basis of the Commission’s text, allowing creators to be remunerated fairly by online UUC services.

In short, we feel it is important to straighten out the fact that this new Directive would actually restore creators’ existing rights, which have currently been taken away from them by certain internet giants, who intend to grow without respecting any part of EU laws. Creators want to have their works available online AND get paid for it, the issue is as simple as that. The Create.Refresh movement claims to be fighting for creators’ rights but has completely missed the point that creators have the independent choice and power to be paid for their work based on their authors’ rights.

We expressed our views regarding the Create-Refresh project back in December when it was first launched and recommend you take a look if you have a chance. We do not want filters or censorship. But we do want fair remuneration for our authors, who are at the core of enriching our cultural sector.

which we found ethically inappropriate. Last week, we noted that this project is now finalised and widely exhibited in the Parliament, and we felt it was necessary to remind MEPs certain facts on the project and to underline why this Copyright Directive is so important for the entire community of authors in Europe, as well as the cultural and creative sector as a whole. You'll find the letter below.” 

Published on 10 April 2018