In Open Letter

AFS Letter: Entrepreneurs in Europe want to thrive!

Dear MEPs,

European entrepreneurs are counting on your support to keep them innovating and are urging you to vote against the adoption of the copyright directive. Let’s find a better solution for startups because the current provisions will harm them. Here is why:

The SME exemption proposed in the directive does not work for startups:

  • It can take more than 3 years for startups to be established. With the current provisions, startups are navigating in thick fog. They will have to deal with two different legislative regimes after 3 years, regardless of scale, which leaves them in legal uncertainty when they start out.
  • Technology allows small teams to change the world, even if they can have 5 million users per month on their platforms. High users of numbers do not mean having the funds to develop expensive filtering tools (which might not even work). At best, startups have the resources to buy these tools from big platforms many are trying to hit with this reform.
  • Startups are innovative, they reinvest their revenues in innovation. The threshold of €10 million turnover per year will lower their ambitions of delivering better products and services, which will negatively impact the choice for users.

The ancillary copyright for publishers will only favour those who can afford it. Large incumbents online providers will be privileged while startups will be prevented from entering this market. For example, big publishers gave free licenses to big tech platforms in Germany, and are charging startups for the same licenses. Germany and Spain show that the ancillary right lead to the reduction of press diversity and hamper innovation.

Europe cannot become a scale-up continent if it prevents its innovative startups from growing. The progress made on a mandatory exception for text and data mining, which is of crucial importance for AI startups, shows that finding a solution that enables innovation while protecting copyright is possible.

We urge you to consider the impact of your decision for innovation, citizens, startups and fundamental rights – please reject this directive in favour of finding a better solution. We would be happy to elaborate on our position and share further examples in a meeting.

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