EU copyright reforms set to hurt creative industries, says Google

Plans to set in motion copyright enforcements have been approved by the European Parliament, despite campaigns against it by Google and internet freedom activists. 348 MEPs were for, and 274 against the changes.

Article 11: “the link tax” is making companies like Google pay licensing fees to newspaper publications for their clustering of news articles in services like Google News.

Article 13: “the upload filter” is being put in place to knuckle down on copyrighted material being uploaded without permission. Tech firms will have to pay publishers, artists and musicians compensation if their work is uploaded without their prior consent.

Many musicians and creators are backing the new legislation saying it promotes fairness. However, these steps to stop copyright infringement have been attacked by many.

The chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, Catherine Stihler, a not-for-profit organisation which pushes for open data, called the reforms “a massive blow for every internet user in Europe. MEPs have rejected pleas from millions of EU citizens to save the internet, and chose instead to restrict freedom of speech and expression online.”

You’ll be pleased to know that memes and Gif’s are exempt from this law.

Daytime TV star Lorraine Kelly wins freelance tax battle

£1.2 million has been saved in tax payments by TV presenter Lorraine Kelly when the judge classed her a freelancer by declaring that her portrayal as TV host is a performance, rather than her true identity.

Because of this “chatty” TV persona, Kelly is not classed as an employee of ITV but instead is a “self-employed star” who “presents herself as a brand and that is the brand ITV sought when engaging her,” said Judge Dean.

“She may not like the guest she interviews, she may not like the food she eats, she may not like the film she viewed but that is where the performance lies.”

No delay for the ‘loan charge’ policy

The 50,000 contractors guilty of tax avoidance will not be given the 6-month delay demanded by campaigners and MPs. The Treasury has published a 49-page review of the loan charge policy scandal calling the tax schemes “calculated and persistent avoidance.”

Those affected by the tax schemes face potentially huge tax bills dating back from as long as 20 years ago, and therefore some will face bankruptcy.

The loan charge will come into force next week, on Friday the 5th of April.

Courts should fast-track gig economy cases

Frank Field, who is chair of the work and pensions committee and led an inquiry into employment law evasion in the gig economy last year, suggested a modern and streamlined judicial system was needed to resolve cases within weeks rather than several years.

“What we have picked up from our evidence is a general unwillingness among companies to respect an employment tribunal’s initial ruling and implement the necessary structural changes. They choose instead to appeal repeatedly against the ruling, and often over several years, to the highest possible level.

“It was suggested to us that as the larger companies tend to have more financial and legal resources at their disposal, they can afford to adopt these tactics.”

Field’s report also argued that clearer definitions of “worker” and “independent contractor” status were needed, suggesting that these looked beyond contractual status and focused on the “factual substance” of the relationship between an individual and a company, rather than the substitutional clause that many tribunals consider.

He advised legislators to presume “worker” status as a basis in employment law, leaving it up to organisations to argue why individuals should be classified as “independent contractors”.

While many employers have made an effort to try and make changes to their hiring policy, changes still need to be made in order to protect the self-employed.

Voiceover artists face losing intellectual property rights

Voiceover artists are the latest group to fall victim to the so-called gig economy and the fragmentation of the job market, legal experts said yesterday.

Voiceover work for radio programmes, documentaries, audiobooks and advertisements is starting to be advertised online at much lower rates than the fees offered through traditional agencies, research by academics at Exeter University found.

Although these companies are operating within the law, the academics highlighted the likely legal implications of opening up voiceover jobs to anyone, not just professional performers.

The study found that voiceover jobs are being advertised at hourly rates of between £65 and £130, significantly less than the standard hourly rate for professionals of about £250.

“It could lead to a loss of skills and professionalism. It is right legally that voiceover artists should own the intellectual property rights to their own performance, and if they chose to surrender these rights they should be paid a standard financial rate in compensation, as happens now,” says Mathilde Pavis of the University of Exeter.

“Intellectual property rights ensure that artists receive remuneration, a royalty, that is proportionate for the usage of their work by clients. The more or the longer the work will be used by a client, the more the artist should be remunerated.”

BBC planning to pay presenters tens of millions to settle tax bill scandal

HMRC ruled that hundreds of BBC presenters were incorrectly paid as contractors when they were actually employees. Presenters say that they were forced to file as a limited company in order to keep their job at the BBC. High earning TV stars are among those affected but so too are local radio hosts who receive relatively low pay.

In order to resolve the tax dispute, the BBC is planning to offer to pay the difference between the tax that presenters should have been paying and what they would have paid through a PSC.

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