The internet community took to storm when the European Union’s (EU) revamped copyright rules were put to vote in its Parliament in September 2018. The Commission had put forth a proposal to change the copyright directive in 2016. The new directive aimed to rebalance the relationship between large internet companies which stream and link content created by others. According to the Commission, due to this phenomena, content creators who heavily rely on these internet giants are not fairly compensated.
In response to this move, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, in her blog expressed her concern,
“We have worked hard to ensure creators and artists are fairly compensated for their work. In the last year, YouTube paid to content owners across the EU €800mn. We have also paid the global music industry more than €1.5bn from advert-generated revenue alone. However, this creator economy is under threat from a section of the EU’s efforts to revise its copyright directive, known as Article 13, which holds internet companies directly responsible for any copyright infringement in the content shared on their platform.”
Though the YouTube CEO agrees with the goals of Article 13, Wojcicki is of the opinion that the European Parliament’s current proposal will create unintended consequences that will have a profound impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people. The consequences of article 13 go beyond financial losses. EU residents are at risk of being cut off from videos that, in October alone, they viewed more than 90bn times. Those videos come from around the world, including more than 35m EU channels, and they include language classes and science tutorials as well as music videos.
She added, “The parliament’s approach is unrealistic in many cases because copyright owners often disagree over who owns what rights. If the owners cannot agree, it is impossible to expect the open platforms that host this content to make the correct rights decisions.”
According to Wojcicki, creators have used YouTube to share their voices, inspire their fans, and build their livelihoods. Kurzgesagt — In a Nutshell recently became the number one channel in Germany by creating videos that help others fall in love with science. Artists like Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran reached fans on YouTube long before they were discovered by a label. And acclaimed musicians like Elton John have used YouTube to breathe new life into iconic songs.
In a bid to address issues pertaining to copyright infringement, Wojcicki clarified that YouTube has already been working on it.
“We have already taken steps to address copyright infringement by developing technology, like our Content ID programme, to help rights holders manage their copyrights and earn money automatically. More than 98 per cent of copyright management on YouTube takes place through Content ID. To date, we have used the system to pay rights holders more than €2.5 bn for third-party use of their content. We believe Content ID provides the best solution for managing rights on a global scale,” said the CEO.
Welcoming new policies to tackle copyright issues, Wojcicki suggests that policymakers must develop solutions which allow the creative economy to thrive as well. These measures could include more comprehensive licensing agreements, collaboration with rights holders to identify who owns what, and smart rights management technology, similar to Content ID.
She concluded, “Platforms that follow these rules and make a good effort to help rights holders identify their content, shouldn’t be held directly liable for every single piece of content that a user uploads. We ask policymakers to find a solution that protects rights holders and creators alike and listen to the growing number of EU voices, including some member countries, who agree there’s a better way forward.”
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