YouTube Star Hank Green Rebukes 'Value Gap' Arguments

youtube toronto 2016
William Suarez Photography

The YouTube office in Toronto, Canada.

YouTube star Hank Green has joined the circular debate over the video platform’s economic merits, responding to scathing comments by talent manager Irving Azoff, who has labeled the Google-owned company “a system that's rigged against the artists.” Azoff wrote that for labels, YouTube’s automated copyright claims system (Content ID) amounted to an “expensive game of ‘whack a mole’” and allowed the music they control to be “exploited without any compensation.” Rhetoric against YouTube has been increasing in volume and tone over the past month.

In an op-ed for Recode, Green defends YouTube against the “old line that creators can’t keep their content” off the site. “I’m really not sure what he’s talking about,” Green says of Azoff, whose op-ed was published on the same site. “If you don’t want your song on YouTube, upload it into the ContentID database and issue a blanket takedown for all videos using that song. Boom. Done.”

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Green argues that most labels don’t even use that blanket takedown option because “being on YouTube is good for artists and record labels, and everybody knows it.” He writes that YouTube has sent $3 billion in royalties to labels to date, with half of that coming from videos they didn’t even have to produce (user-made).

Azoff wrote that YouTube has benefited from an "unfair advantage" that safe harbor laws provide creators. Green disagrees with that characterization, writing that "YouTube isn’t ‘hiding behind’ DMCA safe harbor. It isn’t a loophole, it’s a law. It was designed to protect companies from overzealous litigation, and it’s doing exactly that."

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Green continues, "Labels have been given all of the control the law requires, and more. They’ve been given the lion’s share of revenue generated by YouTube Red. They’ve been given higher-than-ever cuts from their artists on this new revenue. And they’ve been given a new 10-figure revenue stream of claimed fan creations that they never would have had without YouTube."


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