YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki called out video makers to protest against a controversial copyright law in the European Union. She urged all YouTubers to “take action immediately” and oppose the ruling with videos and social media posts with the hashtag “#SaveYourInternet.”
“We are committed to working with the industry to find a better way. This language could be finalized by the end of the year, so it's important to speak up now," she wrote in her quarterly letter to creators, on Monday. “This legislation poses a threat to both your livelihood and your ability to share your voice with the world.”
Her letter mainly focused on Article 13 of the EU’s new Directive on Copyright, which makes tech platforms liable for copyright-protected content. In simple words, platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter should make sure that its users don’t share copyrighted material. “It would be too risky for platforms to host content from smaller original content creators because the platforms would now be directly liable for that content,” she argued in her blog post.
Proponents say that the rule is necessary to protect fair pay for creators. And here’s Wojcicki’s view on the same: “Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people -- from creators like you to everyday users -- to upload content to platforms like YouTube. And it threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere. This includes YouTube's incredible video library of educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials, and other How-Tos.”
Wojcicki said that YouTube’s Content ID copyright detection and payment system already protects content owners. The system automatically compares contents of freshly uploaded videos against a database of copyrighted content and let the owners decide whether to block a video that uses their content or run ads against it. The system also compensates the rights holders, she clarified.
“We realize the importance of all rights holders being fairly compensated, which is why we built Content ID, and a platform to pay out all types of content owners. But the unintended consequences of article 13 will put this ecosystem at risk,” she wrote.
Wojcicki’s SaveYourInternet campaign reminds us of the efforts sponsored by Google and other internet giants, in 2012, to protest against the U.S.’s SOPA law introduced to combat online copyright infringement and online trafficking in counterfeit goods. The bill – backed by Hollywood studios and other content owners – was stalled out after widespread online protests.