European Commission Seeks Solutions for YouTube Value Gap

Plans for user-generated platforms like YouTube and DailyMotion to require licenses or sign-up to revenue sharing deals with rights holders are reportedly being considered by the European Commission (EC).

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Reuters says it’s seen a draft paper by the EC that proposes the idea of forcing platforms hosting user-generated content to sign agreements with rights holders “reflecting the economic value of the use made of the protected content.”

The agreements could take the form of a copyright license or a monetization agreement such as sharing of revenue, the news agency reports. The proposed draft reforms are part of the EC’s ongoing Digital Single Market strategy, which is expected to include regulatory reform to copyright legislation in the EU.

In March the European body launched an open consultation on a mooted extension to publishers of the neighbouring rights currently granted to broadcasters or producers of copyrighted material.

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It is, however, the issue of safe harbour exceptions and the so-called “value gap” between music consumption on platforms such as YouTube and the relatively low revenues received by rights holders that has received the most publicity ahead of the EC unveiling its revised EU framework.

In June, more than 1,000 artists — including ColdplayLady Gaga and Ed Sheeran —signed a letter calling for Europe’s leaders to address what they view as disproportionate returns for the commercial exploitation of music. This year has also seen 58 members of the European Parliament petition the EC over safe harbor provisions, while Paris-based International Artist Organisation (IAO) called for legislative action to address the “value gap.”

When contacted by Billboard, the European Commission declined to speak directly about proposals for platforms to sign revenue sharing deals, but in a statement spokesperson Christian Wigand did reaffirm the EC’s previously held position that it is “considering whether to grant a so-called neighbouring right to news publishers” that “would recognise their role as investors in content and give them a stronger position when negotiating with other market players.”

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Its plans to modernize EU copyright rules are “absolutely not about an EU levy on search engines,” added Wigand. “Overall our objective is to make sure that Europeans can access a wide and diverse legal offer of content, and therefore strengthen cultural diversity, while ensuring that authors and other rights holders are better and more fairly protected,” he went on to say.

The EC is due to present its proposals to revise the EU copyright framework in the second half of next month.

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