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Indie Music Trade Body IMPALA Releases a 10-Point Plan to Curb ‘Abuses’

IMPALA announced this week a 10-point "Digital Action Plan" that gives the European power structure a roadmap to addressing hot topics like weak copyright standards, diversity on radio and finding…

IMPALA, the European indie label trade group, announced this week a 10-point “Digital Action Plan” that gives the European power structure a roadmap to addressing hot topics like weak copyright standards, diversity and finding new ways to help smaller players in the market. The group believes that by strengthening its cultural and creative sectors, Europe can be the “world’s strongest and most inclusive digital player.”

The plan coincides with discussions underway in the European Parliament’s Culture & Education Committee, which seeks to “update EU single market rules for the digital era” and “boost the music download business.” According to IMPALA executive chair Helen Smith, the group’s plan aims to inspire the committee and other decision-makers to “re-engage Europe with its creators and citizens.”

The trade group’s biggest objective is strengthening creators’ rights, including copyright, which it calls a “fundamental right and security for young people who choose to pursue a creative career.” One of the goals is to stop abuses of the so-called “safe-harbour” exemption that protects online entities, like video-hosting sites, from liability for illegal activity — mostly the uploading of copyrighted material — by its users. 

IMPALA calls for the implementation of the “follow the money” approach across Europe in order to end the piracy of copyrighted materials found in advertising and other destinations on the internet.

Another key element of IMPALA’s plan calls for a level playing field for small and medium-sized enterprises in the music business, who account for 80 percent of jobs and 80 percent of investment in new music in Europe.

Other goals include increased broadband speed, improved online security, and greater fairness in taxation. There’s also a call for the EU to revisit the “rules of engagement” for how companies engage online, “from respecting people’s data, property and privacy, to fair search, to ensuring ‘digital humanism.'” In a press release, IMPALA uses this issue to take a dig at YouTube, which is under fire for allegedly pressuring indie cellist Zoe Keating into signing a contract or face having her channel blocked.

In June of last year, the organization filed a complaint against YouTube with the European Commission, accusing the company of violating rules around anticompetitive business practices.

“An industrial policy for culture is a pre-requisite for Europe’s digital economy,” said IMPALA’s Helen Smith. “This involves reinforcing copyright and clarifying what operators like YouTube can and can’t do. Ensuring a successful digital single market also implies a host of other measures such as promoting diversity in a measurable way and devising a new regulatory, competition, social and fiscal framework for smaller actors.”

The 10 point plan:

  1. Reinforcing the rights that drive the digital market and grow Europe’s copyright capital
  2. Giving citizens the best digital infrastructure in the world
  3. Improving pluralism and diversity online as well as offline
  4. Revisiting the “rules of engagement” online
  5. Growing Europe’s “missing middle” by improving conditions for smaller actors
  6. Effectively tackling websites which are structurally infringing
  7. Increasing investment through a new financial approach to culture
  8. Introducing greater fairness in taxation
  9. Mapping how creativity works and measuring the sectors
  10. Placing culture and diversity at the heart of Europe’s international work

Read more about the plan or see the specific action items.