Defending Article 13, IMPALA's Helen Smith Calls Out YouTube's Lopsided Business Model

Despite YouTube’s opposition, IMPALA’s Helen Smith says the Copyright Directive – and Article 13 – would guarantee a balanced online ecosystem for artists, producers, songwriters, and labels.

Last week, in a lengthy op-ed in the Financial Times, Susan Wojcicki shared her opinion about the European Union’s Copyright Directive.

Unsurprisingly, YouTube’s CEO praised her own platform’s ability to protect copyright owners.  Ignoring the platform’s poor payouts to its own content creator community, Wojcicki argued the video platform would forcibly remove videos from Europe over Article 13, a controversial measure included in the Copyright Directive.

Article 13, of course, long dubbed the ‘EU meme ban,’ would force user-uploaded platforms (i.e., YouTube) to finally pay copyright owners a fair share in royalties.  Without much evidence, the YouTube chief dubbed the “unrealistic” measure a threat to “creators’ livelihood.”

Now, the European indie music scene has responded.  And, they’re not happy with Wojcicki’s arguments.

Time to pay up, YouTube.

Helen Smith, Chief Executive of the Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA), has broken down Wojcicki’s op-ed piece.

In a short piece published on the Financial Times, she lists four arguments against Wojcicki’s failed arguments.

First, the Copyright Directive confirms what European courts have already found.  YouTube, and other user-uploaded platforms, don’t pay their fair share.

Article 13 clarifies legal responsibility for infringing works posted online doesn’t lie just on copyright owners.  User-uploaded platforms, which provide access to these works, can also be found liable should they fail to identify and take these works down.

Second, the Copyright Directive also tackles the problem of the value gap.

Using safe harbor loopholes, Google and YouTube have long circumvented proper payouts to copyright owners.  The Copyright Directive, writes Smith, would close this gap.  All user-uploaded platforms would have to pay copyright owners fairly.

Third, the Copyright Directive won’t sink any jobs.

Forcing companies like YouTube to pay their fair share in royalties would ensure artists, labels, and indies receive “increased remuneration.”

Smith writes,

The Directive levels the playing field in a way that means we can all negotiate in a normal licensing environment.  That’s how you make the ecosystem sustainable for all.  This is about the artists you haven’t heard of yet.

Fourth, the Copyright Directive won’t harm YouTube or any other user-uploaded platform.

The approved bill contains a number of safeguards for these companies.  Yet, according to Smith, the real problem lies with YouTube’s business model.

In order to increase its bottom line, the video platform pays out the bare minimum in royalties to copyright owners.  Smith writes,

YouTube’s recent figures are designed to dazzle, but our members’ own revenue results show that for every €1 ($1.14) from YouTube, Spotify pays €10 ($11.42).

Smith concludes that in Europe, the Copyright Directive “has been years in the making.”  Calling on lawmakers and online platforms to “move fast,” she concludes,

We don’t even need to break things.  Let’s not get distracted.  Let’s make the online world clearer, fairer and sustainable for all.

 


Featured image by INES – Innovation Network of European Showcases (YouTube screengrab).