MEPs urged to make a stand for creativity
Artists, authors, producers call for the right copyright rules ahead of vote
Strasbourg, 13 February 2001 - Artists, authors and producers have called on the European Parliament to decide in favour of culture and creativity when they vote on the EU Copyright Directive tomorrow. The Directive, designed to update copyright law to the Internet age, is vital to the future of the creative community in Europe, but still has serious shortcomings.
Beatles producer Sir George Martin travelled to Strasbourg today to express his concern over the Directive. Sir George said: "Europe is world renowned for its cultural richness and this Directive is supposed to ensure that Europe has the right environment for writers, artists and musicians to continue creating great work. But I am seriously concerned by efforts to use this law as an opportunity to erode copyright protection."
The creative community is enthusiastic about the possibilities new technology can bring to provide top quality European cultural works to consumers any time, anywhere, at the touch of a button. But, at the same time, creators need to know that their efforts will not be wasted and their work will not be abused on the Internet.
Belgian singer Axelle Red noted that a random search found almost 16,000 unauthorised files of her work over an 18-hour period. Axelle Red said: "I may not mind that my work is circulated on the web, but I would like to be asked. A huge amount of time and energy goes into creating my music, so I want a say over how it is used."
The debate on copyright comes at a time when the circulation of unauthorised music files on the Internet makes daily headlines and demonstrates the urgent need for copyright protection. EU Ministers reached a Common Position on the EU Copyright Directive last year. But that text is now in danger of being weakened by last minute amendments that would substantially undermine copyright protection.
Bernard Miyet, Vice-President of GESAC, the organisation representing European authors, said: "Until now, Europe has played a fundamentally important role in establishing a copyright model that promotes artistic creativity. It would be paradoxical if Europe tomorrow produces a law that leads to a significant regression of copyright protection for European creators."
Jay Berman, Chairman and CEO of IFPI, the organisation representing the music industry worldwide, said: "The reality is that when music is passed around the Internet, without permission, it destroys livelihoods. Everyone talks about private copying, but there is nothing private about a piece of music being sent to millions of people over the Internet. Private copying should be kept truly private."
Prominent writers, musicians and performers from the 15 Member States have written to the European Parliament in recent weeks to voice their concern over the future of copyright. Celebrated figures from the film world who sent letters to their national MEPs include Italian film actors Roberto Benigni and Sophia Loren as well Duncan Kenworthy, the producer of the British film, Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Nobel prize-winning authors Seamus Heaney and José Saramago wrote to their national MEPs from Ireland and Portugal respectively. Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, French opera singer Roberto Alagna and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra wrote to the European Parliament, along with other classical music figures such as British conductor Sir Simon Rattle and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
Rock and pop stars who sent letters expressing their concern over the Copyright Directive include Patrick Bruel (France); Alejandro Sanz and Luz Casal (Spain); Ron Wood, Sting and Dave Stewart (UK); Björn Ulvaeus from Abba (Sweden); Eros Ramazzotti (Italy); Marium Müller-Westerhagen (Germany); Nana Mouskouri and Giorgos Dalaras (Greece); Helmut Lotti (Belgium); Bomfunck MC (Finland); as well as Ronan Keating, The Corrs and Westlife (Ireland).
Luis Cobos, Spanish conductor, composer and President of ARTIS GEIE, the organisation representing European performers, said: "Our great strength in Europe is our incredibly rich and diverse cultural heritage. We urgently need the right rules to allow us to share this culture not only throughout Europe, but also with the rest of the world. Instead we seem to be concentrating on infrastructures and neglecting the need to nurture culture."
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