YouTube have issued their first official statement regarding the European Union Copyright Directive. In her letter to YouTube Creators published yesterday October 22nd, Susan Wojcicki (https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/), set out that the proposed Article 13 of the Directive as currently written threatens to shut down the ability of the platform to operate, with EU users potentially facing blocks from content already uploaded and hundreds of thousands of livelihoods at risk.
As one of the internet’s foremost user generated content sites, YouTube has the most exposure to liability for content uploaded under Article 13. The Article removes the exemption of being a ‘mere conduit’ from for-profit content sharing platforms. There will be exemptions for those who act to develop effective and proportionate safeguards to protect the works of rights holders, to act quickly to remove violations and to make their best efforts to prevent further breaches of copyright, but some, YouTube included see the requirements as being too vague, or unworkable when you take into account the volume of video being uploaded.
With more and more media being created directly for online sharing platforms such as YouTube, VIMEO and Amazon owned Twitch, the barrier to broadcasting has never been lower for content creators. It is now a valid, and lucrative career choice to e effect establish your own broadcast stream, channel or network on one of these platforms, but it is undeniable that abuses of copyright can and do exist alongside the original user generated material. The questions seems to be whether the sharing platforms have done enough, or are the European legislators asking too much of them?
The Directive is currently in the trilogue negotiation stages, between the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. It remains to be seen if the increased involvement of internet heavy hitters like YouTube sway the path of the European legislators. And of course the continuing question of the impact of the directive on the UK post-Brexit still looms large, as it seems to with pretty much everything else, we will just have to wait and see how the situation develops.
Written by Stephen Nolan – Guest Blogger