Intense lobbying continues ahead of EU copyright vote

World famous artist Wyclef Jean has joined others in urging MEPs to this week vote against a proposed reform of the EU copyright laws which has returned to the plenary following Parliament’s decision not to enter the interinstitutional negotiations.

Wyclef Jean | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

10 Sep 2018

MEPs will this week vote on a series of amendments to a report updating the EU copyright directive. 

Attention is particularly focused on Article 11, which enhances rules covering payments to publishers when digital platforms reproduce articles, or parts of articles, and Article 13, which addresses the liability of platforms hosting copyrighted works such as music.

Deputies are due to vote on the planned reform in Strasbourg on Wednesday and, ahead of the vote, MEPs have been subject to frantic last-minute lobbying from both sides.


Rapper Wyclef Jean argued that musicians are “collectively better off financially and promotionally because of internet platforms.

“The solution to the challenges of the Internet isn’t to tear it down, it’s to build on top of it. There are too many fingers being pointed and too few productive conversations.” said Jean.

He said the draft directive, if adopted in its current form, could force internet platforms to introduce upload filters and censor content.

The singer argues that MEPs “should reject arguments that platforms like Soundcloud, Vimeo and YouTube create a ‘value gap’ for creators and see that musicians and internet service providers can team up and make the music community better for everyone.”

He appealed to MEPs to “embrace and improve the internet, rather than attempt to block and hinder it.”

His message is echoed by Julian Stark, a writer and film director who is part of the Create.Refresh campaign, a collective of European artists and organisations, who said, “The copyright directive will force online platforms to censor freedom of expression online under the guise of protecting artists. 

“But Wyclef Jean’s experience, and that of thousands of other creators across Europe, shows that we have more to gain from working together with platforms, rather than standing in the way of progress.

“We thank Wyclef Jean for standing up against this damaging legislation. Whether intended, or not, this law will prevent the uploading and sharing of content online and we ask MEPs to reject it now.” 

The EPP group, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that in the plenary vote it “seeks a balance between the right holders and artists and internet users on the other side.”

It said, “The EPP believes that platforms which develop their commercial activities on uploaded creative content need to fairly remunerate the creators.”

Campaigners are also taking their message directly to MEPs in Strasbourg with war correspondent Sammy Ketz due to speak at a press conference along with French Socialist MEPs Virginie Rozière and German Greens deputy Helga Trüpel.

Ketz said, “At stake is the freedom of the press because when newspapers run out of journalists, that freedom will be gone.” 

He has called on Google, Facebook and other internet giants to reimburse the media for the editorial content that they are currently using for free.


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