Every quarter, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki shares a letter with the video platform’s creators, updating them on her priorities and new developments from the past few months. On Monday (Oct. 22), she used this as an opportunity tout a 75-percent increase in channels over the last year with more than 1 million subscribers and over 1 billion monthly visitors to the platform, as well as YouTube Music’s expansion across Europe–, Canada and Brazil. But most notably she warned against the impact the European Union’s Copyright Directive — specifically its controversial Article 13 component — could have on its community, saying the legislation will kill the internet as we now know it for users, creators and artists alike.
This is the first time Wojcicki has been so vocals about the legislation, which passed in European Parliament last month, and in her letter warned that Article 13 “threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people … to upload content to platforms like YouTube.”
She continued, “It threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere. This includes YouTube’s incredible video library of educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to’s.”
The EU directive’s Article 13 requires user generated content platforms like YouTube to implement automatic content recognition systems that would block any works infringing copyright. It also mandates they setup “easy redress” systems for works mistakenly taken down and that those platforms negotiate licenses with rights holders, effectively ending safe-harbor provisions in Europe.
Following last month’s vote — which was widely seen as a victory for the music industry — the European Parliament must negotiate with members states and the European Commission to finalize the directive. This process could be completed by the end of the year and Wojcicki encouraged YouTube creators to “take action immediately” and speak up against the legislation on their channels and using the hashtag #SaveYourInternet on social media, if they hope to keep it from moving forward in its current version.
“This legislation poses a threat to both your livelihood and your ability to share your voice with the world,” she wrote. “And, if implemented as proposed, Article 13 threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs, European Creators, businesses, artists and everyone they employ. The proposal will force platforms, like YouTube, to prioritize content from a small number of large companies. The burden of copyright proof will be too high for most independent creators to instantly demonstrate. There is a better way forward for copyright online but it’s critical you speak up now as this decision may be finalized by the end of the year.”