Article 13 and the development of start-ups and small businesses in the digital market



Europe is home to creative start-ups


Europe has been home to new innovation and business models, while preserving its main principles of copyright, rule of law and social justice. The online music streaming market for instance has been developed and led by European companies that first started and scaled up in Europe (e.g. Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz, 7digital, etc.). For instance, Deezer started as a blog by two students and grew to be one of the biggest services after starting to obtain licences from authors’ societies, which gave them the guarantee to license the entire world repertoire.


A level Playing field is essential for SMEs


Currently, user uploaded content platforms (UUC) such as YouTube or Facebook, that occupy most of the market, have become the main route to accessing creative works. They are distorting the online market since they don’t pay for copyright, taxes, etc. while legitimate online businesses do so and employ people in Europe. To enter the digital market with fair conditions, start-ups and SMEs need a level playing field. Article 13 will boost the development of the online market, enabling European start-ups in the UUC and online content market to compete on a level playing field with global giants, with easy access to the market and legal certainty. 


Moreover, rights management and content identification technologies are rapidly developing markets in a data economy for European start-ups too; B-MAT, Soundmouse are amongst examples of successful ones that have grown in Europe.


Licences tailored for SMEs and start-ups


Art 13’s primary aim is to provide fair licences and remuneration to creators. Such licences are widely available from authors’ societies or the hubs of societies guaranteeing wides possible rights clearance at single points. Especially for small businesses, authors’ societies provide adapted, and even one-click, online licensing options in a streamlined and easy manner.


Affordable and adapted technical solutions for SMEs


Art 13 requires ‘cooperation’ between the platforms and rightholders for “appropriate and proportionate” measures. Such measures are necessary: i) For the functioning of licences, to ensure the accurate and timely distribution of royalties collected from such services to the actual creators, and; ii) In the absence of licensing agreements, for the non-availability of infringing content.


The key word here is ‘cooperation’ which implies that platform services and rights holders are partners in implementing the measures.


Big UUC platforms already implement technologies for content identification but only for their own business purposes, without taking into account the relevant copyright data. Article 13 will allow existing measures to be adapted to copyright.


For SMEs entering into the market, inexpensive and effective technologies are readily available and several companies provide affordable bespoke solutions in this area (for 500€/month or even less).


Article 13 does not require a specific technology but asks for appropriate and proportionate measures. Any type of functionality can be accommodated. This can be watermarking, fingerprinting, file hash, or other technologies and even human review. This ensures a wide range of new businesses around digital market for cultural content.