YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki says EU copyright rule will hurt creators

23 Oct 2018

YouTube on a laptop. Image: ibphoto/Depositphotos

Susan Wojcicki is urging YouTube creators to protest Article 13, a controversial EU copyright law.

Early in September, the EU passed its new directive on copyright after an intense few months of lobbying. Essentially, the directive makes tech firms liable for copyright protected-content. This is of particular concern for YouTube and other platforms that rely on user-generated content.

Addressing creators in a blogpost yesterday (22 October), CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, said that the legislation (Article 13 in particular) “poses a threat to both your livelihood and your ability to share your voice with the world”.

Legislation poses a threat

She continued: “And, if implemented as proposed, Article 13 threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs, European creators, businesses, artists and everyone they employ.

“The proposal will force platforms like YouTube to prioritise content from a small number of large companies. The burden of copyright proof will be too high for most independent creators to instantly demonstrate.

“There is a better way forward for copyright online but it’s critical you speak up now as this decision may be finalised by the end of the year.”

A contentious issue

Proponents of the legislation say it is important to protect fair pay for creators, but tech firms such as YouTube say it would then be too risky to host video from smaller content creators.

Notably, the financial burden of preventing the spread of copyright content would also fall on YouTube’s shoulders, a bill that will likely be massive. People are concerned that memes, parodies, remixes and educational videos, which currently pass as fair use on YouTube, could be in jeopardy.

Wojcicki added that the company’s Content ID already adequately protects content owners. It automatically compares the content of new videos to a database of copyrighted video and audio, and lets copyright holders decide whether to block a video using their material or run ads against it instead.

Internet pioneers such as Tim Berners-Lee previously criticised the regulations, citing concerns around content monitoring and the potential for censorship.

While the European Parliament gave the new directive the go-ahead in September, the process is not quite over yet.

YouTube on a laptop. Image: ibphoto/Depositphotos

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects