Former Universal Music Exec: Article 13 Will Hold Music Industry Back

While some may look at the European copyright debate as an artist vs tech debate, some voices are casting doubt on that perspective.

In the debate surrounding European copyright reform, there is no shortage of opinion out there. The ultimate loss in an initial vote to reject internet rights in favour of major corporate interests seems to have only emboldened this. If you’ve followed coverage elsewhere, you might have noticed an all-too familiar refrain: that this is a debate that pits creators against technology.

Supporters of the copyright legislation often play this up quite a lot in an effort to sell their case that copyright laws trump innovation. That perspective has been dealt with a heavy blow when Creative Commons joined others in condemning the copyright legislation.

As many know, Creative Commons is a licensing system that allows creators to maximize and specify what can and cannot be done with their creations. It has helped countless creators license their music for users to distribute, broadcast, and remix in a clear and concise manner. Of course, some may continue to this day insist that Creative Commons is no friend to artists and that their opinion doesn’t necessarily count as an opinion that represents the creators side of the debate.

Regardless of your thoughts on this, the perception that the European copyright debate is little more than a standoff between creators and the technology sector has been dealt another heavy blow. The voice joining the debate is also no small voice at all, either.

Pascal Nègre may not be a household name for North American’s, but some in Europe may know the name quite well. This is because he was the head of Universal Music in France from 1998 – 2016. Of course, that isn’t his only credentials by any means. Nègre has penned an opinion piece saying that article 13 will hold the music industry back. Music Business Worldwide is currently hosting an official translation of his thoughts on the debate:

I am concerned by the Copyright Directive currently being discussed in the European Parliament, and especially Article 13.

This Article, as it currently stands, would require any platform to systematically detect and block any uploading by a user of a potentially copyright-protected content – not just music – except when a license agreement has previously been concluded with the beneficiary or its representatives.

This very broad provision could actually have a negative impact on creation, since it would lead to some form of blind, automatic and systematic censorship.

After 35 years of working in the music industry, I feel that this would ultimately prove bad for artists, the music industry, and society.

Nègre goes on to discuss a lot of different points that we’ve certainly brought up countless times in the past. He effectively says that we now live in a world where there are online digital retailers helping artists sell their content along with other legal services. There was certainly a time where piracy ruled the online landscape, but that is rapidly disappearing thanks to these legal services. He even goes so far as to say that Article 13 simply ignores all the progress that has been made over the years on this front and would ultimately hold the music industry back.

All this falls in line with what we’ve been saying for years. The only real threat to piracy is viable legal alternatives. If there is a compelling legal alternative, people will move over to those services. This observation is the result of years of research, reading through countless studies, reporting on these issues for over 13 years now, and observing various trends in the online and business environments.

Moreover, even if you flatly disagree with this perspective despite years of evidence, it is now impossible to honestly refer to this debate as a creator vs technology fight. There are those in the music industry who are not on side with what Article 13 could potentially do.

How this will shape the future of this debate is unclear at this point. Still, there are certainly a lot of takeaways observers can get from this opinion piece alone. We will continue to cover developments of this major debate currently gripping the European Union.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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