"Article 13 would remove current protections and hold YouTube directly liable for any copyright infringement, opening us up to unmitigated liability... that we would be forced to block huge amounts of video."
YouTube's head of music, Lyor Cohen, continues to sound the alarm about what could happen to creative industries if the European Parliament's current version of Article 13 of its copyright directive becomes law. "The music industry will make less money from YouTube, not more," he insists in a just-published blog post, adding that the changes will make it harder for unknown artists to be discovered in the first place.
As it currently stands, the EU-approved copyright directive will require platforms like YouTube to negotiate licenses with rights holders, effectively ending safe harbor provisions across Europe. Under Article 13, the directive's most controversial element, they will also have to implement automatic content recognition systems blocking any copyright infringing works, as well as to set up "easy redress" systems for works mistakenly taken down.
Critics claim that Article 13 could put an end to music-centric memes, remixes and other user-generated content on YouTube and other video streaming platforms, such DailyMotion. As Cohen notes, "well over 50 percent" of music includes some portion of unclaimed or unknown ownership. Under safe harbor, YouTube can pay those unidentified portions to a song's known rights holders, and if a publisher still doesn't want unlicensed content on the site, its can use Content ID to have it removed.