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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Ramps Up Article 17 Opposition, Promises Copyright Claim Changes

Susan Wojcicki
Francois G. Durand/Getty Images

CEO Youtube Susan Wojcicki speaks during the 'What Matters Next' session during the Cannes Lions Festival 2018 on June 19, 2018 in Cannes, France. 

"This is not the end of our movement, but only the beginning," Wojcicki told creators in a new letter.

YouTube creators can expect to see a more balanced copyright claim process on the platform soon, as well as continued efforts from the company against copyright directive Article 13, now renamed Article 17. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki shared these priorities and more in a quarterly letter to creators published Tuesday (April 30). 

Based on recent feedback, Wojcicki said the company plans to work on improvements to its manual copyright claim system to address concerns over claims that are less than 10 seconds or incidental. The way the system works presently, a creator can be slapped with a copyright claim just by filming near a store that plays a few seconds of music in the background of their video.

"We were already looking into this issue, but hearing this directly from creators was vital," Wojcicki said. "We are exploring improvements in striking the right balance between copyright owners and creators."

The platform will also seek to diversify its trending tab (which creators complain often features the same accounts again and again) and add more detail to its community guidelines and advertiser-friendly policies, so there’s more predictability around monetization. Additionally, Wojcicki plans to fight harassment on the site. "While criticism from fellow creators can be constructive, any threats or doxing crosses the line," she added. "Such behavior is already prohibited by our policies. But stay tuned as we will do more to discourage this from happening on the platform."

Wojcicki also reiterated the company's staunch opposition to Article 13 (now renamed Article 17) of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which was recently passed in the EU. The copyright directive requires YouTube -- along with Facebook, Twitter and similar hosts for user-generated content -- to take more responsibility for copyrighted material that is shared illegally on their platforms.

YouTube has argued that the directive would impose harsh limits on YouTube creators and, consequently, cause the company to take a financial hit.

"While we support the rights of copyright holders -- YouTube has deals with almost all the music companies and TV broadcasters today -- we are concerned about the vague, untested requirements of the new directive," Wojcicki wrote. "It could create serious limitations for what YouTube creators can upload. This risks lowering the revenue to traditional media and music companies from YouTube and potentially devastating the many European creators who have built their businesses on YouTube."

While the directive has passed, each EU member state now has two years to introduce national laws in line with the new rules. During that window, Wojcicki urges creators to continue to speak out against the directive, applauding a massive recent Change.org petition opposing it. "This is not the end of our movement, but only the beginning," she says.

Wojcicki also promises to take "aggressive action" toward protecting children on the platform, noting the company's efforts to immediately remove violative content in the wake of the recent tragedies in New Zealand and Sri Lanka. In February, YouTube announced that it would suspend comments entirely on most YouTube videos featuring minors. Other focuses outlined in the letter include ramping up the company's NextUp creator camps -- with new editions in Jakarta and London -- as well as its Creator on the Rise initiative.