Over the course of the past few weeks, YouTube has become a vocal player in the lobby fight over the EU copyright reform. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has made several public statements in favour of mandatory upload filters – in the press [1] as well as in meeting with MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party and vice chair of the Greens/EFA group comments:

“The fact that Youtube is now publicly lobbying for mandatory upload filters is not surprising in the least. By introducing ContentID, YouTube has already proven that is is very much capable of developing filters for certain types of content, such as music. If the entire market was obliged to install such filters, YouTube would not only be miles ahead in of its competitors in the development of such technologies, it would also be in a position to sell its filters to smaller platforms. Large platforms such as YouTube would grow further and be presented with an entirely new business model. The significantly smaller EU competition would be left behind. For civil society, which put the EU copyright reform on the public agenda in the first place through Europe-wide protests, upload filters are absolutely inacceptable! Filters like ContenID are famous for regularly deleting entirely legal content [2]. If filters become mandatory, as suggested by the national governments in the Council, we can expect the systematic erosion of copyright exceptions such as for parody or quotation, as well as the end of online culture such as memes. The German government, whose coalition agreement clearly rejects upload filters as disproportionate, would be in a position to organise a blocking minority against upload filters in Council, but so far has only asked for cosmetic changes.”

For the plenary week, Wojcicki has travelled to Strasbourg to meet with MEPs, among them rapporteur Axel Voss (EPP, Germany), to talk about the copyright reform. Simultaneously, a growing number of famous YouTubers are speaking out against the planned copyright reform, in fear of losing their livelihoods on the platform.

“The fear of many YouTubers that internet culture and independent creatives will be sacrificed in this reform is certainly justified. They should however not make the mistake of singing from YouTube’s hymn sheet, whose CEO has only been outspoken against the liability of platforms for copyright infringements, while presenting mandatory upload filters as a reasonable compromise. If you look more closely at the countless videos, it’s apparent that most YouTubers are warning of the exact problems that YouTube’s ContentID upload filters are already causing today: unjustified copyright strikes and the automated deletion of entirely legal creative content. YouTube and its YouTubers have very different interests in this debate.”

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