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YouTube receives flak for its “carpet-bombing propaganda”



The online video streaming platform YouTube has been garnering a lot of attention in the past few weeks. Ever since the European Commission proposed a reform of the copyright directive, YouTube has been openly attacking the EU for introducing Article 13 as a part of the reformation.

In a bid to alert its users and slam the EU’s reformatory move, YouTube began bombarding its #SaveYourInternet campaign across all its social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. The company went to the extent of replacing the pop-up on its European version of the website which initially prompted users to sign up for YouTube’s free ad service to a new message that warns users about the EU’s proposed copyright directive.

This move by YouTube hasn’t gone down well with the European music industry at large who have a different story to tell.

“It’s time for YouTube to respect the EU legislative process and focus its energy on working with labels to grow the value generated by recorded music, for example through its excellent new YouTube Music subscription service, rather than trying to protect an outdated safe harbour that has given it an unfair advantage over both competing services and individual musicians and creators. The money YouTube is spending to preserve special protections for its business would be much better spent rewarding the great music that drives users to its platform,”

said Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of British Phonographic Industry, in his response to YouTube Head of Music Lyor Cohen’s blog post.


Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI


According to Taylor’s post, even though YouTube claims to support the premise of Article 13. It is difficult to square with its ongoing carpet-bombing propaganda against that provision, which feels like a challenge to the legitimacy of the democratic process. Article 13 has been carefully scrutinised over four years by the European Commission, Council and Parliament. These three institutions have rightly concluded that the Value Gap is real and that YouTube ought to take some responsibility for the content it publishes, just like other publishers. YouTube now seems to be trying to scaremonger the EU into reversing decisions taken after a full debate, because it doesn’t like the outcome.

Taylor adds,

“Lyor Cohen argues that ad-supported revenues are helping to fuel music industry growth. That’s far from our experience.  Despite many billions of views, ad-supported video now generates less than half the revenue labels make from vinyl, and only one-sixteenth of the revenue from premium subscriptions. This problem needs to be fixed.”

The controversial Article 13 aims to protect the interests of artists by holding online platforms responsible for content uploaded by users that infringes the copyright norms. However, the threatened video streaming giant has refused to see eye to eye with this reform. YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, too, criticised Article 13, calling it “unrealistic”.



Not bowing down to YouTube’s aggressive propaganda, major European music trade organisations including the IFPI, IMPALA, ECSA, ICMP and GESAC, in their joint statement, ‘YouTube’s Fact-Free Fear-Mongering’, said,

“YouTube constantly refers menacingly to ‘unintended consequences’ if the Directive is adopted, and threatens to block content, instead of showing willingness to observe laws and fairly remunerate right holders. In fact, the Directive will bring fairness. Fairness for all platforms by creating a level playing field where everyone is playing by the same rules and fairness for right holders who will be properly rewarded for their creative content. It’s in our interests to boost online creativity, not restrict it.”

The statement, released on IFPI’s website, also states that the clarifications proposed by the EU institutions may not be to YouTube’s liking but they will contribute to sustainable and balanced growth of the European digital markets. This will ultimately benefit all stakeholders in the digital value chain including the citizens. Many thousands of international artists, authors, publishers, labels, managers, songwriters have urged the EU to find a solution to the value gap. YouTube’s eleventh-hour campaign of fact-free fear-mongering should be seen for what it is: an attempt to derail the EU democratic legislative process.

The argument of toss between YouTube and the ones who are in favour of the reformation has now erupted into a full-fledged war between the two polarised groups.


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