The Copyright Directive and what the vote means for author remuneration and European democracy

Strasbourg, September 11, 2018 – Less than 24 hours before the plenary vote on the Copyright Directive, GESAC, the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers that represents over 1 million authors, takes a look back at why this Directive is essential, and how the outcome of tomorrow’s vote will be a reflection of the state of European democracy.

What is the Directive about?

Platforms hide behind a copyright loophole to avoid negotiating licences for the content they provide access to and actively organise, promote, and monetise. The result is that creators whose works are increasingly used online, don’t see any, or only very little pay from this usage. Moreover, legitimate content services that do negotiate licences are faced with an unfair disadvantage, as tech giants that have no or little costs associated with their main product—creative content.

How can this be solved?

Article 13 of the Copyright Directive is a good first step. It clarifies existing law, and takes out the loophole behind which platforms like YouTube or Dailymotion have been hiding to claim safe harbour (or the exemption of liability for copyright for being a “mere technical intermediary”). With this Directive, these platforms would be obliged to cooperate with rights holders, in order to negotiate a licence.

What is the fuss about?

Platforms like YouTube or Facebook actively use creative content on their platforms in order to keep their users online as long as possible and increase ad revenues. Article 13 would oblige them to share a part of the benefits they pocket from the creative content they provide access to. In other words, these platforms have every reason to convince the general public and MEPs that this law is problematic and that we should keep the status quo. This naturally does not mean that there weren’t legitimate concerns to address (and they are in the latest positive proposals), but many were made up and/or severely inflated.

Where do we stand?

The tactics of these platforms proved successful in July. The campaign was hacked and public opinion was completely misrepresented. Nevertheless, since then, the lies were debunked, and the public opinion was shown to be far more in favour of regulating tech, and protecting creators than what many were led to believe. In fact, 2/3 of respondents of a poll (in 8 EU countries where the debate was very active) indicated they thought big tech had more power than the EU, showing there is a real necessity to oblige more transparency and to better regulate giant tech.


This vote will not only be about protecting creators and ensuring they have a fair share of the benefits generated by their works, it will also be about the safekeeping of democracy from heavy-handed tech giant pressure.




GESAC (European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers) comprises authors’ societies from across the European Union, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. As such, we represent more than 1 million creators and rights holders in the areas of musical, audiovisual, visual arts, and literary and dramatic works.


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Aurelia Leeuw

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