YouTube has officially voiced its side of the argument ahead of a vote in European Parliament on September 12 that will decide the future of the Copyright Directive.
The platform’s Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl has said the ability for creators and artists to find fans and build a business online is now “at risk” thanks to the heavily debated Article 13.
Should it be passed into law, Article 13 would prospectively force the likes of YouTube to be held legally accountable for all copyright-infringing material appearing on their platforms, challenging the ‘safe harbor’ protections these services currently enjoy in the EU.
In its current form, the Directive risks “discouraging or even prohibiting platforms from hosting user-generated content” said Kyncl speaking in a blog post.
“This outcome would not only stifle your creative freedom, it could have severe, negative consequences for the fans, the communities and the revenue you have all worked so hard to create.”
robert kyncl, youtube
He continued: “This outcome would not only stifle your creative freedom, it could have severe, negative consequences for the fans, the communities and the revenue you have all worked so hard to create.”
Kyncl cites the role of user-generated content in the success of videos by Drake, Dua Lipa and Alan Walker, explaining: “Creators and artists have built businesses on the back of openness and supported by our sophisticated copyright management tools, including Content ID and the recently launched Copyright Match Tool that manages re-uploads of creators’ content.
“Copyright holders have control over their content: they can use our tools to block or remove their works, or they can keep them on YouTube and earn advertising revenue. In over 90% of cases, they choose to leave the content up.
“Enabling this new form of creativity and engagement with fans can lead to mass global promotion and even more revenue for the artist.
“That’s what makes platforms like YouTube special: fan videos have the power to help propel established songs to new heights and even break new artists. This is the new creative economy in action.”
The idea that Article 13 will threaten the ability of people to create user-generated content has been dismissed as “bogus” by music industry representatives.
Public supporters of the Directive, which lost out on being passed through Parliament in its current form in July, include Sir Paul McCartney, Jean Michel Jarre and music trade bodies worldwide.
BASCA Chair Crispin Hunt has said: “The reality is that Article 13 is hardly revolutionary. It is a modest proposal that returns some sense of fairness and responsibility to the manner in which internet platforms operate.”
In a leaked letter following the renewal of WMG’s global YouTube licensing deal, Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper explained exactly why the music industry is so keen to force YouTube to be held liable for copyright infringement in UGC on its platform – and why this would have a material effect on closing the ‘Value Gap’.
He explained: “Our fight to further improve compensation and control for our songwriters and artists continues to be hindered by the leverage that ‘safe harbor’ laws provide YouTube and other user-uploaded services.
“There’s no getting around the fact that, even if YouTube doesn’t have licenses, our music will still be available but not monetized at all. Under those circumstances, there can be no free-market ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ negotiation.”
Music Business Worldwide