YouTube Chief Executive Rails Against EU Copyright Proposal

The European Union has proposed, in a copyright directive, that platforms, not users, be responsible for copyright infringement. For the second time, YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki strongly stated in her blog that her company does not have the technical or financial wherewithal to comply with this portion of the copyright directive, known as Article 13. Wojcicki, the only tech chief thus far to voice opposition, noted that more than 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

The Verge reports that Wojcicki also noted how complex copyrights can be, pointing to “Despacito,” the site’s most watched video, that “contains multiple copyrights, ranging from sound recording to publishing rights.”

“Although YouTube has agreements with multiple entities to license and pay for the video, some of the rights holders remain unknown,” she said. “That uncertainty means we might have to block videos like this to avoid liability under Article 13. Multiply that risk with the scale of YouTube, where more than 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute, and the potential liabilities could be so large that no company could take on such a financial risk.”

YouTube has also “gone on the offensive over the last month to garner support in opposing the EU’s copyright directive,” in part by tweeting videos of creators condemning Article 13 and creating an informational site about it. The company also “released a number of updated statistics regarding its Content ID system, which pays copyright holders for their original work if used in another creator’s video,” with Wojcicki reporting that the company has paid artists “more than €2.5B for third party use of their content.”

“We believe Content ID provides the best solution for managing rights on a global scale,” she said. YouTube has put more than $100 million into this system since its October 2007 launch.

“Platforms that follow these rules, and make a good effort to help rights holders identify their content, shouldn’t be held directly liable for every single piece of content that a user uploads,” said Wojcicki, who added how the copyright directive would impact European users and creatives. “EU residents are at risk of being cut off from videos that, in just the last month, they viewed more than 90 billion times,” she said. “Those videos come from around the world, including more than 35 million EU channels, and they include language classes and science tutorials as well as music videos.”

The European Union will take its final vote on the copyright directive in January 2019.