UK Music chief slams Google as “corporate vultures” as figures show Google’s €31m EU lobbying bid

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has launched a ferocious attack on Google for its “big money” campaign to prevent EU-wide changes on copyright rules.

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03/07/2018: UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has launched a ferocious attack on Google for its “big money” campaign to prevent EU-wide changes on copyright rules.

The move comes ahead of a vital vote on the EU Copyright Directive in Strasbourg this week which aims to protect rights-holders and reward creators fairly for the music shared on Google-owned YouTube.
According to the European Union’s Lobbying Transparency Register, Google directly spent €5.5m on lobbying and is a client of at least eight consultancy firms employed to influence policy initiated by European Union institutions.

A total of 14 members of Google’s staff work on the company’s EU lobbying operation with 3 employees being accredited with access to the European Parliament’s premises.

The US company also indirectly lobbied the EU via its membership of 24 other organisations, as well as two European Parliament industry forums. The combined value of Google’s indirect lobbying of the EU amounts to €25.5m.

Google’s memberships include the Computer and Communications Industry Association and OpenForum Europe. They both provide grants to Copyright for Creativity (C4C), a dedicated campaign against attempts to introduce changes to copyright law that would hold Google’s YouTube to account.

Google is trying to scupper the proposed changes, which are due to be put to a vote of Euro MPs on Thursday, because it would force the tech giant to pay much higher fees for the music it streams on YouTube.

Audio streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music pay around £4.3bn or £15 per user annually for the music they use – significantly more than the £650m or 50p per user returned annually to the industry by firms like YouTube.

YouTube is the number one source of music consumption in the world with 85 per cent of visitors going to the site each month for music.

But Google and other tech giants are funding a huge array of groups seeking to crush the proposed change aimed at levelling the playing field between content creators and digital platforms.

Among the myths pedalled by those fighting against the EU Copyright Directive are bogus suggestions that the changes will mean the end of memes and, remixes and other user-generated content.

According to new figures compiled by UK Music – the body that represents the UK commercial music industry – Google and its associates are behind a  €31 million lobbying operation (see editor’s notes below) of the European Union on issues including the digital single market, copyright and licensing.

The music stars backing the EU copyright changes to give creators a fair deal include James Blunt, 60s legend Sandie Shaw and BASCA chairman Crispin Hunt who has written for Florence + the Machine.

Commenting, Michael Dugher said:

“Google has made vast sums of money behaving like a corporate vulture feeding off the creators and investors who generate the music content shared by hundreds of millions on YouTube.

“These EU copyright changes are aimed at ending an injustice that has seen Google’s YouTube and other big tech firms ripping off creators for far too long.

“These new figures expose the fact that Google is acting like a monolithic mega-corp trying to submerge the truth under a tsunami of misinformation and scare stories pedalled by its multi-million propaganda machine.

“Instead of mounting a cynical campaign, motivated entirely out of its self-interested desire to protect its huge profits, Google should be making a positive contribution to those who create and invest in the music. MEPs should ignore the big money lobbying from big tech and back fair rewards for creators.”
The new revelations follow criticism last week that Google is trying to persuade news publishers to lobby against the positive changes with untrue claims that the Directive would curb internet freedoms.

The existence of a value gap – known as the “transfer of value” – significantly reduces the amount of money composers and performers receive for their creativity.

On almost every economic indicator, the music industry  outperforms the national average – except on one thing: average earnings are below that of the rest of the economy.  This is just one of the reasons why we need fair rewards for musicians, creators and investors.

Article 13 in the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market represents a proportionate step towards developing a fair digital market.

It recognises that online video services engage in copyright protected activity and require a licence. It forces online content sharing platform providers to engage in licensing discussions with rights-holders and places ultimate discretion as to whether to grant a licence with them.


Notes to Editors

Google’s EU Transparency Register entry is available here:

Their main activities include digital single market strategy, intellectual property, licensing and internet governance.

  • Google memberships
Organisation Total estimated  EU lobbying costs (based on upper range) EU Transparency Entry
American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmCham EU) €1.25m
The European Digital Media Association (EDiMA) €400k
European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA) €10k
Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe (IAB Europe) €400k
Computer & Communications Industry Associations (CCIA) €500k
Transatlantic Policy network €516k
Application Developers Alliance €200k
Allied for Startups (AfS) €300k
Alliance for Safe online pharmacies €65k
Friends of Europe €3.75m
Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung €1.75m
Lisbon Council for Economic Competitiveness and Social Renewal €1m
Bruegel €5m
European Policy Centre €2.5m
Centre for European Policy Studies €10k
Centre for Data Innovation €100k
OpenForum Europe €200k
Centre for corporate innovation N/A N/A
Bitkom €400k
European Horizon N/A N/A
Centre on Regulation in Europe €300k
Connectivity and communication coalition N/A N/A
TOTAL: €24.8m  
  • European Parliament Industry Forums that Google contribute too
Organisation Total estimated  EU lobbying costs (based on upper range) EU Transparency Entry
European Internet Forum £500k
EU40 £200k
TOTAL: €700k  
  • Lobbying consultants that list Google as a client
Organisation EU Transparency Entry
Bartholomew Advisors SCS
FTI Consulting Belgium
Political Intelligence
McClarty Associates
MUST & Partners
MKC Communications
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