Bill Whelan
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July 2016

Ennio Morricone, Bill Whelan and Pedro Almodóvar Want Fair Play from YouTube

A petition has been launched which demands that the EU take effective action to force tech giants like YouTube, Facebook and others to pay a proper rate for the use - or what currently amounts to the abuse - of music and other art forms on the internet.

Bill Whelan Ennio Morricone, Bill Whelan (pictured), Brendan Graham, Pedro Almodóvar, Charles Aznavour, Andrea Bocelli, Daniel Buren, Alejandro Sanz and Albert Oderzo are among the big names who have launched a petition, Make The Internet Fair For Creators, which appeals to the European Commission for immediate action on the issue of the erosion of the value of music and other art forms.

The objective of the petition, which was signed at the outset by over 1,000 leading artistic creators, is to convince the Commission to properly address the transfer of value taking place online, at the expense of songwriters and composers.

The European Commission has found itself under increasing pressure from the cultural sector in recent weeks, with letters being sent by songwriters and musicians, musicians' and creators' organisations and now authors and creators from all artistic sectors. This latest letter, signed by some of Europe’s most important cultural exporters and influencers, urges the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to quickly find a real solution to enable a fair sharing of the value created - and the revenue generated - on the Internet.

The giant internet corporations have argued that copyright obligations don’t apply to them, and as a result artists’ income has dropped hugely, as streaming takes over from hard copy - and even from download - sales.

"They hide behind safe harbour exemptions to avoid paying creators and rights holders fairly," it was explained to Hot Press. "It’s not just major pop stars or the music sector at large that is under threat because of this; it is the entire creative ecosystem, made up of composers, authors, directors, screenwriters, photographers, sculptors, painters, etc."

The letter spells out just how damaging the development is for musicians, composers and artists.

"The dominant players on the market, like YouTube, are platforms built on user-uploaded or aggregated content that don’t or only barely provide remuneration for our work," says the letter. And it goes on to emphasise that this "pulls the entire market value of creative works down in a never-ending race to the bottom."

Renowned Irish composer, producer and arranger Bill Whelan, who is a founder member of IMRO, has been vocal on the issue in the past - and he is among those who have signed the letter.

"The arrival," he says, "of universal access to the Internet with the attendant free and illegal availability of music and other copyright material has had a seismic effect on an economy which had previously supported and disseminated this material. Legislators worldwide have been unable to keep pace with the rate of change and have consequently been unable to evolve a body of law which protects the rights and interests of creators and copyright owners.

"This fact is now well noted internationally," he added. "What is less evident is the fundamental change that has taken place in the lives of those who were previously able to devote their careers to activities which can be described as 'cultural'.

"The nourishing effects of creative activities are essential to our understanding of ourselves and our society. By removing the income sources which previously sustained these, we have, in a startlingly short time, reduced these careers to being essentially ‘amateur' or part-time. The creators who wish to continue their work are now forced to engage in all kinds of often unconnected activities to support themselves.

"The Commission should be forcefully aware of the organic effect that this is having culturally and take swift and radical action to respond to this alarming and culturally damaging situation."

If you want to read the petition in full, and sign it, look here:

Make the Internet Fair for Creators

- See more at: "The Commission should be forcefully aware of the organic effect that this is having culturally and take swift and radical action to respond to this alarming and culturally damaging situation."
McGuinness / Whelan

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