Paul McCartney Calls On European Parliament To Tackle Value Gap Ahead Of July 5 Copyright Vote

 Mary McCartney
Paul McCartney

Sir Paul McCartney has joined the growing chorus of artists, labels and music industry bodies calling upon European regulators to pass sweeping reforms to copyright law and address the so-called value gap, the difference between what free user-upload sites and subscription services pay creators for their music. 

In an open letter published by IFPI, the former Beatle urges members of the European Parliament to back the EU’s proposed copyright directive when they meet in Strasbourg for a plenary vote July 5. 

“You hold in your hands the future of music here in Europe,” writes McCartney, stressing the importance of music and culture as “our heart and soul.” 

“Unfortunately, the value gap jeopardizes the music ecosystem,” he warns. “We need an internet that is fair and sustainable for all. But today some user upload content platforms refuse to compensate artists and all music creators fairly for their work, while they exploit it for their own profit.” 

Passing the proposed copyright directive, which was approved by the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee June 20 but still needs the support of the entire institution before becoming law, would “address the value gap and help assure a sustainable future for the music ecosystem and its creators, fans and digital music services alike,” states McCartney. 

He joins a list of more than 1,300 recording artists and songwriters pushing for MEPs to go through with the reforms, which, if passed, will force user generated content services like YouTube to obtain music licenses and effectively ending Europe's safe harbor provisions, which protect sites like YouTube from liability if users upload content without rightsholders' permission.

Other notable names to back the campaign include Plácido Domingo, James Blunt, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, while more than 30,000 songwriters, artists and creators have signed a petition in support of the copyright directive.

Unsurprisingly, that’s not a view shared by the tech community, with opponents of the reforms claiming that they will they restrict freedoms online and could put an end to memes, remixes and other user-generated content.

To try and sway opinion of law makers, there has been fierce lobbying from both the tech and creative sectors in the two year run up to the plenary vote, with YouTube owner Google spending more than €31 million ($36 million) to try and influence policy decisions, according to figures compiled by UK Music using the European Union's Lobbying Transparency Register. 

“The stakes are high and there is a massive disinformation campaign,”states a last-minute open letter to European parliamentarians from Helen Smith, executive chair of Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA), also published today (July 4).  

“There are a lot of false claims that the new copyright rules would create a “censorship machine” and that it would be the end of the internet,” writes Smith, arguing that “copyright and innovation are two sides of the same coin” and that “all eyes are now on the EU as it rewrites the rules of the game.”