Two groups representing the film and music industry wrote to Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday (11 July) asking the European Commission to crack down on internet companies they say are exploiting artists.
Creative industries and internet companies are bracing themselves for changes to EU copyright law that the executive plans to propose in September.
Songwriters, singers and movie directors and producers signed a letter to Juncker asking him to propose measures that would require YouTube to pay artists more if their works are available on the platform.
Véronique Desbrosses, the manager of GESAC, the European grouping of author societies, said YouTube causes more damage to the creative industry than other platforms because it is the biggest.
Desbrosses said Content ID, YouTube’s system for automatically recognising copyrighted material, “is not working at all” because it detects published sound recordings but not all copyrighted works.
A Google spokesman said that Content ID “goes above and beyond what the law requires” and said the system automatically detects 99.5% of all copyright claims for music on YouTube.
YouTube has already paid $3 billion to musicians and is trying to work out arrangements to increase that figure, according to the company.
“Digital services are not the enemy,” the spokesman said.
Out of the more than 1000 artists who signed the letter, 15 are British – more than from any other EU country.
Desbrosses told EURACTIV.com that the Commission needs to make sure artists are paid properly to fix the European “identity crisis” that was brought out by Britain’s vote to leave the EU.
“Culture is something that helps to forge a European identity for citizens. It’s part of Europe’s big identity crisis that emerged with Brexit,” she said.
“It’s time for Europe to take care of Europe, the culture and the creators because they’re part of the solution.”
Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, composer Ennio Morricone and Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar all signed the letter.
The music and film industries have pressured the European Commission to introduce laws that will make internet companies pay more money to artists.
A different group of industry associations sent another letter to Juncker on Monday, asking for the executive to propose new measures that would extend royalties like the ones artists receive from radio stations to online services like Spotify and Netflix.
“Few artists can negotiate royalties. We want the additional right to be able to receive remuneration beyond a contract fee,” said Nicole Schulze of the Association of European Performers’ Organisations.
The European Commission named the modernisation of copyright law as one of its priorities for the 16-point digital single market plans presented in May 2015.
The Commission proposed a first copyright measure in December 2015 that would allow consumers to use digital content like Netflix when they travel within Europe, as long as they accessed it legally.
EU Digital Commissioner announced that the executive will propose a further copyright reform measure in September or October 2016. The proposal was originally expected in spring 2016 but was delayed.