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Leaked EC draft proposals hint at ‘value gap’ action


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The debate over whether regulators should crack down on the safe-harbour status of YouTube and other user-generated content (UGC) platforms has been running for a long time now.

Could the European Commission be tilting towards music rightsholders’ opinions? Reuters has seen a draft paper from the EC that leaves plenty more room for argument.

“The European Commission, the EU executive, is looking at imposing an obligation on platforms hosting user-uploaded content – such as YouTube, Vimeo and DailyMotion – to seek agreements with rights holders ‘reflecting the economic value of the use made of the protected content’, according to a draft paper, seen by Reuters, listing the preferred options for the EU’s copyright reform.

The devil will be in the details of any such legislation, and the report suggests that “a copyright license or a monetisation agreement such as sharing of revenue” may form part of any such agreement, along with “appropriate and proportionate measures, such as content identification technologies”.

Both of which, of course, YouTube already has in place with music rightsholders: the arguments concern how much revenue is shared, and how well the content-identification tech works.

Ordering YouTube to do what it is already doing – licensing deals and ContentID – may not be as ineffectual a ‘crackdown’ as it seems: the impact would only be clear the next time the service went to the negotiating table with rightsholders without the backstop position that it doesn’t actually need deals.

In other words, the EC will not be able to guarantee increased revenues for music rightsholders: it will only be able to alter the power balance between them and UGC platforms for the all-important dealmaking.

Stuart Dredge

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