European Union Aims to Implement Forced Content Quotas on Streaming Services by the End of 2019

The finalized Article 13 text is either a breakthrough, a disaster, or something in-between — depending on the organization you talk to.

It’s done.

After more than two years of EU deliberations, thousands of hours of hearings and endless debates, a finalized version of the Copyright Directive has been submitted.  The Copyright Directive includes the controversial Article 13, once a slam dunk for the music industry but now the focus of industry in-fighting.

The wrapped-up “Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market” was submitted on Wednesday evening, and shuttled to EU legal departments for review.  The EU is expecting a finalized version in the March or April timeframe.

The text was hammered out by three major EU groups: the European Commission, the EU Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. That ‘trilogue’ discussion process was constantly buffeted by special interest lobbying, including intense efforts by Google and its critical YouTube subsidiary to soften the measure.

That effort included YouTube Music chief Lyor Cohen, who campaigned aggressively against the original Article 13 language.

More recently, a contingent of French and German negotiators forged a brand-new version of the Directive, including Article 13.  But that effort was also decried as poison by the tech industry, with large and small factions decrying the measure as too harsh.

Initially, the battle was pitched between IP owners and tech giants like Google.

But once the language of the bill started to morph, the music industry found itself in a civil war of disagreement.  One critical issue was whether copyright restrictions were strict enough, and liabilities punishing enough to really impact change.

Just last week, a joint letter from the IFPI, ICMP, IMPALA urged the cancellation of the Directive.  That was supported by other heavyweights within the online video, sports, and broadcasting sectors.

Still, one of the largest European music industry IP groups is backing the finalized text, even though its contents remain private.  “Online platforms will finally have to pay authors a fair remuneration for the usage of their works,” GEMA’s president, Harald Heker, stated late Wednesday.

But what does the updated Directive say, exactly?

“It is often ignored that the European Parliament and the Member States have continuously developed the contents of the Directive further in intensive debates,” Heker noted.  “The draft of the Directive that we now have in front of us imposes a higher level of responsibility onto the online platforms and strengthens the position of creators as well as internet users at the same time.”

“For music authors, this would be an important step for which GEMA has been fighting for a long time. It is now up to the European Parliament to give green lights for a modern copyright.”

GESAC, the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers, has also endorsed the latest Directive.

Sounds positive, though German media conglomerate Bertelsmann has declared the reworked directive a disappointment.   “With the adoption of the EU Copyright Directive, there are more disadvantages than advantages for us,” the conglomerate stated.

YouTube declined to offer a comment until the final text has been reviewed.  “Copyright reform needs to benefit everyone — including European creators and consumers, small publishers and platforms,” the video platform stated.

“We’ll be studying the final text of the EU Copyright Directive and it will take some time to determine next steps. The details will matter, so we welcome the chance to continue conversations across Europe.”

More as this develops.