This month, the European Parliament will have a fuller debate and a new vote on its plans for copyright reform, including the much-discussed Article 13, which will cover safe harbour for internet platforms. The coming weeks are going to see sustained lobbying from both sides of the issue, with no tactic left unexplored given the perceived size of the stakes.
YouTube, for example, is enlisting its community of creators, with its chief business officer Robert Kyncl publishing a blog post overnight encouraging YouTubers to back the #SaveYourInternet social-media campaign, and visit the ChangeCopyright campaigning website launched by web-browser firm Mozilla.
“The open internet eliminated the barriers of traditional media gatekeepers and ignited a new global creative economy for creators and artists. It has given anyone with an idea the ability to share their passion, find fans all over the world and build a business. Despite best intentions, I believe this may now be at risk as European policymakers prepare to vote on a new European Copyright Directive on September 12,” wrote Kyncl, addressing YouTubers directly.
“In fact, some parts of the proposal under consideration – and in particular the part known as “Article 13” – potentially undermine this creative economy, discouraging or even prohibiting platforms from hosting user-generated content. This outcome would not only stifle your creative freedom, it could have severe, negative consequences for the fans, the communities and the revenue you have all worked so hard to create.”
Music-industry bodies and label bosses look away now: Kyncl cited the success of Drake, Dua Lipa and Alan Walker as proof that YouTube’s creative economy works for musicians. But the call to action was for YouTubers to support the campaign against Article 13. “I have made my voice heard here and there’s still time for you to weigh in before September 12th. Every single creator, including you, deserves their say. I hope you will learn more and consider sharing your views on social media (#SaveYourInternet) and with policymakers,” he wrote.
It goes without saying that music industry bodies (and plenty of artists) will disagree with Kyncl’s viewpoint, including the extent to which Article 13 will ‘discourage or even prohibit’ user-generated content. We’ll be covering their views in full too in the run-up to the pivotal vote, just as we cover those of the other side.
What the YouTube blog post makes clear, though, is the company’s ability – along with other internet firms – to mobilise large numbers of people to email European politicians and raise a ruckus on social media. Deciding how best to compete and/or cut through this has always been a daunting challenge for the music bodies and other creative industries who are supporting Article 13. This month, we’ll find out once and for all how well they’ve met that challenge.