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Record Labels, Film Studios, Tech Companies And The Public Now All Agreed That Article 13 Is A Disaster

Earlier this week, we noted that the film, TV and sports industry associations had come out against Article 13 in the EU Copyright Directive. It was for all the wrong reasons of course -- mainly, that (1) negotiators were exploring very minor safe harbors that would give internet platforms conditions they could follow to avoid liability and (2) they were hoping that a few court cases would break their way and they'd get an even better result in the courts -- but it was still notable. After all, much of Article 13 was pushed for by those same industry reps.

Still, some suggested that while the movie and TV folks wanted out, the record labels didn't, as they had been even more instrumental in crafting Article 13, with their entirely mythical concept of the "value gap" (a thing that does not actually exist) which they incorrectly believed Article 13 would solve. However, on Thursday, even the record labels bailed out on support for Article 13, though it appears for the same awful reasons as the film studios. They don't go quite as far as the film and TV folks (who ask for Article 13 to be put on hold indefinitely), but rather call for major changes:

With the final trilogue only days away, European creatives and rightsholders urgently inform EU policymakers that the 13 January draft text of the proposed Copyright Directive does not meet the original objective of Article 13 and urgently requires significant changes.

They don't really explain why they're so upset, but it's not difficult to see that it's the same reason as the film, TV and sports organizations. Again, Article 13 is a kind of bait and switch. All of the stuff people are complaining about -- the mandatory filters, notice-and-staydown, the insane fines -- all go away if the internet platforms agree to basically cough up all their money to the legacy copyright gatekeepers. The "secret" truth behind Article 13 is that even the folks crafting it know that all of the demands are absolutely ridiculous. It's just that they've included a "way out." And that "way out" is to agree to insane licensing rates from the legacy copyright players. Despite the nonsense you'll hear, this won't create "fair market" rates or "fair" anything. You don't negotiate a fair market rate when you're basically told that if you don't agree to whatever rates the copyright gatekeepers set, you'll get fined billions of dollars.

So any path to avoiding having to agree to a license at the end of a shotgun is seen as a non-starter for the entertainment industry. Though, their latest bit of petulance about not getting everything they want kind of gives away the gameplan. This was never about stopping infringement. It was always about a government-mandated wealth-transfer from the companies who actually innovated to the companies that failed to innovate.

Either way, if they no longer like the deal, the tech companies have never liked the deal and (most importantly) the public hates the deal... then why is the EU still pushing forward with it? Who actually still supports it, beyond the politicians in the EU? It's one thing to say that a true political compromise makes no one happy, but this is a case where everyone is fundamentally against the end result entirely.

So, please, European bureaucrats: let's just leave Article 13 in the trash pile where it belongs.

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