What Stricter EU Copyright Law Could Do To YouTube – And Your Own Marketing Efforts



The EU’s proposed “meme law” could stifle YouTube’s creator ecosystem. CEO Susan Wojcicki is speaking out about it.

Last week in a letter to platform creators, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki spoke out against proposed EU legislation that could affect “your livelihood and your ability to share your voice with the world.” The legislation in question is Article 13 of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The directive’s larger goal is to streamline how products are sold and offered across the coalition of countries. But that directive comes wiuser-generated including the controversial article.

As currently written, Article 13 requires sites that feature large quantities of user-generated content to filter and reject content that violates copyright. In aggregate, this may not seem like a bad thing. But the same mechanism that would filter out non-licensed photographs or music, would filter out other types of previously permitted content—and would do so indiscriminately. According to TechCrunch, “even though memes and parodies are protected by previous laws (in some countries), these upload filters wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a copyright violation and a meme—and they’d block out content that should be allowed. This is how Article 13 came to be known as the ‘meme law’.” And if your brand or agency creates memes or engages in parody, those efforts could be in danger for your international audiences.

YouTube already has a filtering system in place to weed out copyrighted content ahead of its posting; further, content later discovered to violate copyright can be flagged and removed upon review. “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,” Wojcicki insists in the letter. But she also acknowledges that this system won’t suffice for the new regulations, and in a larger sense, “the unintended consequences of article 13 will put this ecosystem at risk.”

Platforms like YouTube aren’t the only objectors to the proposed “meme law.” Dozens of human rights groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters without Borders voiced similar concerns in an open letter last year. These complaints have been registered, but didn’t affect the preliminary passing of the directive earlier this fall. But with time remaining before the final vote in January 2019, there’s still a chance at finessing language—and YouTube wants in on that conversation.

“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,” Wojcicki shared as she encouraged creators to read up on the law and register their worries with #SaveYourInternet.

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