UMG Owner Vivendi Backs Calls for European Union to Address YouTube 'Market Distortion'

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Universal Music owner Vivendi is backing calls for the European Parliament to "correct the distortion of the digital marketplace" caused by User Upload Content (UUC) services like YouTube. 

The French media giant is one of a number of European companies and trade groups who have signed an open letter voicing concerns over a possible 'watering down' of the European Commission's controversial Copyright Directive.  

The widely debated reforms were approved by the European Parliament in November. In the weeks since then, lawmakers have been negotiating with members states to finalize the directive, which Google-owned YouTube claims threatens "the livelihoods of thousands of artists, creators and songwriters."

Of particular concern to YouTube is Article 13, which makes "online platforms and aggregators liable for copyright infringements." Critics of the reforms say they could put an end to memes, remixes and other user-generated content. 

Supporters of the directive strongly dispute that claim and say they are the best way to address the so-called 'value gap,' referring to the relatively small remuneration that YouTube returns to musicians and rights holders who generate its biggest audience.  

Since November's vote, numerous representatives of the tech and creative community have published open letters and blog posts arguing their position, with today's representing a coalition of European authors, composers, songwriters, artists, publishers, broadcasters, music producers and news and media companies.

"We have reviewed the European Commission text/non-papers on article 13 and we have serious concerns about the direction of travel," states the letter, also signed by IFPI, the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA), the European Publishers Council (EPC), the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (GESAC) and independent labels body IMPALA, as well as media conglomerates Mediaset and Tf1.  

"As we reach the very final stages of this process, and negotiators seek to finalise a compromise text, we urge you to remember that the overall aim of the original European Commission proposal was to correct the distortion of the digital market place caused by User Upload Content (UUC) services, which enable users to upload content onto their sites and then profit from the availability of creative content without returning fair revenues to rightsholders, who create and invest in such content," the letter continues. 

It goes on to argue that making UUC services like YouTube liable for copyright infringements is the "only solution" to "meaningfully" address the value gap. 

"Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, the text now put forward by the European Commission would need fundamental changes to achieve the Directive's aim to correct the Value Gap/ Transfer of Value," says the letter, warning that any solutions that "seek to qualify or mitigate the liability" of platforms hosting copyright infringing content could leave "rightsholders in a worse position than they are in now."


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