@IMPALAmusic: Time to focus on the cultural industries – IMPALA’s agenda for Brexit negotiations

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 31st January 2020

Today marks the official start of Brexit. The UK and the EU will now negotiate the exact terms upon which they part company.

This means constructing a new deal to avoid disadvantaging the UK/EU trading relationship. IMPALA’s Executive Chair Helen Smith did an interview earlier this week on what the situation is until a new agreement is negotiated, and what the priorities should be for the negotiators in the next phase.

Helen Smith commented: “A sector specific approach is essential to ensure ongoing terms accommodate the needs and opportunities of the cultural sectors in a post Brexit world.”

IMPALA has underlined that the next step is crucial and has supported recommendations across the European cultural sectors.

Smith continued: “This is particularly key for small businesses and emerging artists, who won’t have the means to work their way around complex barriers. If we want an illustration of why that’s important, we just need to look at IMPALA’s album of the year shortlist published yesterday. That is the diversity we want to continue to see crossing borders. Brexit will not prevent that, the independents’ voice will keep being heard.”

The UK’s recent stance on the EU’s copyright directive has caused concern in the music sector and IMPALA commented on this earlier this week. Even if it doesn’t adopt the directive as such, the UK can still align its legislation, deliver on its promises and remain a leader in Europe.

Smith concluded: “We urge both the UK and the EU to prioritise concrete terms that recognise that the European music market is borderless in nature and needs nurturing with sector-specific deal terms.”

About IMPALA
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are SMEs. Known as the “independents”, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists – they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector’s jobs (for more information, see the features of independents). IMPALA’s mission is to grow the independent music sector, return more value to artists, promote cultural diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access and modernise perceptions of the music sector.

Letter to Congress on the Nexus of the Copyright Directive, USMCA and Brexit

Artist Rights Watch readers might be interested in this letter I sent to Congress last month regarding the European Copyright Directive/Brexit/USMCA intersection.  This is real now, Brexit is happening tomorrow and the UK Government announced it will not be transposing the European Copyright Directive.  The UK government will no doubt be seeking–quickly–a bilateral trade agreement with the US.  Having just concluded and signed into law the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA), the Trump Administration may be tempted to use certain aspects of the USMCA as the basis for a UK bilateral agreement.

While creators were able to hold the line on some important copyright issues, Google was able to get the USMCA to incorporate DMCA loopholes that are a big problem and go in the opposite direction of the progress on safe harbor loopholes gained in the European Copyright Directive.  Google has built up a massive lobbying effort in the UK and you can expect it to kick into high gear on this issue.  Google will try to gain in the UK what they lost in the European Parliament, and then bootstrap any gains into opposition against other EU countries adopting the Copyright Directive.

You may wish to draw on these points to send a letter of your own.

Limiting Safe Harbors in Trade Agreements

Many welcome the passing of the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  However, creators in will be concerned about perpetuating in other trade agreements the harms in the USMCA’s Article 20.89 (Legal Remedies and Safe Harbors).

These concerns arise because the Article incorporates the highly controversial “DMCA safe harbor ” (17 USC Sec. 512 et seq).  The Article perpetuates the DMCA’s highly controversial and debilitating “whack a mole” regime that creators have suffered for decades.  Our fellow citizens simply cannot tolerate such grotesque unfairness becoming standard practice for trade agreements by the United States.

I encourage you to call on your colleagues to include in the legislative history of the USMCA language that would recognize the harms to artists and all creators of  Article 20.89, disclaim the use of the Article as a model for future trade agreements and require the US Trade Representative to consult with the relevant committees of Congress before negotiating future agreements that address safe harbors.  This is particularly urgent given the Copyright Office’s current review of the DMCA and legislative events in Europe moving in the opposite direction of the Article.

Piracy and the near-piracy by companies like Google and its YouTube subsidiary is most pronounced in the blatant encroachment on creator rights by the DMCA’s “whack a mole” extortion model of both online pirates and those who support them in the piracy supply chain–hosting services, search engines and advertising sellers and resellers.   This illicit enterprise is clearly not in the public interest.

Internet piracy does not distinguish among “hit” records or genres, geographic areas, or creative categories.  It needs to be repeated that the follow-on effects are massive for all of those in the creator’s supply chain as well as the creative economy.  Two generations of clients ask us of the DMCA loophole, “How can this be legal?”

The Article effectively codifies the notification-counter-notification call and response of the so-called “DMCA safe harbor.”  The infringer sending a counter-notification after receiving a takedown notice likely knows that there is no downside for challenging an independent artist if that artist cannot afford a federal lawsuit to enforce a reply to a counter-notification (17 USC Sec. 512(g)(2)(C)) much less international copyright enforcement.

For independent artists, international copyright enforcement essentially does not exist.  Consequently, counter-notifications are frequently supported by the flimsiest of theories, often laughably misreading the safe harbor laws based on “Internet myths”.

Artists, however, are not in on the joke because the punchline is that the theft continues absent the court order that is financially beyond reach.  Profits from the piracy supply chain continue unabated and the law—including the Article–is mocked once again.

This tragic call-and-response is particularly mismatched when challenging the Internet companies that are the biggest publicly-traded multinationals in commercial history.  Challenging the safe harbor requires all creators to constantly police these platforms and sue to enforce their rights.   That’s just not realistic.  By adopting the DMCA in the Article, the safe harbor becomes a brutal fortification.  Process becomes punishment for creators.

As you may be aware, the European Parliament recently adopted the new European Copyright Directive that sharply cut back on safe harbors like the DMCA that allow profit from piracy.   The message from our trading partners is clear—no more whack-a-mole.  It would send entirely the wrong signal for the United States to try to force what is essentially an economic sanction on our trading partners through the back door of a trade agreement with loopholes like Article 20.89

Dual Class Stock

I also call your attention to the dual class voting stock mechanism popularized in Silicon Valley by Google that gives Google’s founders 10 to 1 voting power over holders of the company’s publicly traded shares.  This dual class system has been criticized by many, included SEC Commissioner Robert J. Jackson, Jr. out of concern that it effectively establishes “corporate royalty.”  Commissioner Jackson’s concerns are prominently confirmed in the recent departure from Google’s management of Larry Page and Sergei Bryn who still control Google due to their 10:1 voting stock.

If the USMCA can require our trading partners to pay certain minimum wages, it seems that trade agreements could also address this fundamental unfairness that has most recently led to the economic debacle at WeWork.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on USMCA.

@GazTheJourno: Brexit judgment could be hit for six by those crazy Supreme Court judges, says barrister

[It’s not Manny, Moe and Jack…really.]

uk_brexit_judges_full

Interview Britain’s exit from the European Union could be guaranteed by the Supreme Court if the government has the cojones to appeal Thursday’s Brexit-bashing Divisional Court verdict, says barrister Greg Callus.

Speaking after the verdict was handed down in the case against the government, Callus told The Register that although the 23 June referendum’s outcome is not legally binding, the Supreme Court has very wide-ranging powers to create new law as well as confirm readings of the existing law.

“The thing is, this is such an important case the Supreme Court could say ‘we’ll have to have it even though there are no arguable grounds’ and the Supreme Court is the Supreme Court,” said Callus, perhaps slightly tongue-in-cheek as he echoed the infamous “Brexit means Brexit” non-saying.

“It’s not bound by the arguments the parties put forward,” continued Callus, of media and entertainment law practice 5RB.

“The Supreme Court could say, ‘Here are new grounds you’ve not seen before and that none of you have ever thought of; this is the law.’ I’m sure they would ground it in something but they are free from control in the Supreme Court; they decide.”

Read the post on The Register.