On March 26, the EU Parliament voted to pass the new Copyright Directive, including the controversial Article 13 (Article 17 in the final text).
The final step took place mid-April, when the Council of Ministers approved the legislation, despite opposition from Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and Sweden.
YouTube was and remains one of the primary targets of the legislation. Copyright holders, those from the music industry in particular, want to prevent the platform from utilizing content without paying a fair market rate.
Whether that will be the actual real-world outcome remains unclear but in a new post on its Creator Blog, YouTube says that it still has deep reservations surrounding the legislation.
“[W]e are also still very concerned about Article 13 (now renamed Article 17) — a part of the Copyright Directive that recently passed in the E.U,” writes YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
“While we support the rights of copyright holders—YouTube has deals with almost all the music companies and TV broadcasters today—we are concerned about the vague, untested requirements of the new directive.”
While it hardly needs repeating, the tacit requirement for some Internet platforms to install upload filters to prevent infringement in the absence of content licensing deals remains a big concern for many companies. While YouTube already has such systems in place, strict upload filters are a potential threat, Wojcicki suggests.
“[Article 17] could create serious limitations for what YouTube creators can upload. This risks lowering the revenue to traditional media and music companies from YouTube and potentially devastating the many European creators who have built their businesses on YouTube,” the company’s CEO adds.
Although Article 17 has passed on the EU level, member states will still have to write its provisions into local law, a process that’s likely to prove both complex and controversial. Wojcicki would like to see YouTube supporters, many of whom are Article 17 opponents, continue the fight, to ensure the best possible outcome.
“While the Directive has passed, there is still time to affect the final implementation to avoid some of the worst unintended consequences. Each E.U. member state now has two years to introduce national laws that are in line with the new rules, which means that the powerful collective voice of creators can still make a major impact,” she writes.
“We must continue to stand up and speak out for open creativity. Your actions have already led to the most popular Change.org petition in history and encouraged people to reach across borders. This is not the end of our movement but only the beginning.”
Finally, Wojcicki says that the company has been listening to key YouTube content creators who have expressed frustration over what they feel is an abuse of the copyright claims process on the platform.
Some users are receiving copyright claims following the use of small excerpts of copyrighted content lasting ten seconds or shorter, sometimes in an inadvertent context. It appears that the platform may be prepared to tackle this issue in the future.
“We also heard firsthand that our Manual Claiming system was increasingly being used to claim very short (in some cases one second) content or incidental content like when a creator walks past a store playing a few seconds of music,” Wojcicki notes.
“We were already looking into this issue but hearing this directly from creators was vital. We are exploring improvements in striking the right balance between copyright owners and creators.”
These types of claims, that are often filed without considering fair use implications, are decried by creators as a major irritant when attempting to review and critique third-party content, or film in public places. How YouTube will tackle this problem remains unclear but addressing it effectively could be a real boost to those who use copyrighted content within the confines of the law.
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