👋 THE KNOWLEDGE: Get a weekly mix of the best news, analysis, and insider tips from across Music Ally's services. (Plus all the weird links and unusual music we find online each week.) It's FREE, fun*, and every Friday.

*actual levels of fun may vary

Posted inNews

EUCJ advocate general opines on YouTube copyright liability

Here’s something to make the average music rightsholder spit their cornflakes across the room in shock: an official European Union document spelling out that “online platform operators, such as YouTube and Uploaded, are not directly liable for the illegal uploading of protected works by the users of those platforms”.

But don’t waste your breakfasts, as there are some big caveats here. First, the document is an opinion by the advocate general of the European Union’ Court of Justice, Saugmandsgaard Øe, based partly on a case brought against YouTube and Google by German music producer Frank Peterson. It’s not a binding opinion.

Second, the document makes it clear that Øe’s opinion is not based on the new European Copyright Directive, which introduces liability for platforms like YouTube, but rather on the existing legislation – because the directive is still being implemented by individual EU countries, it doesn’t yet apply to the cases he’s writing the opinion for.

Posted inNews

US Copyright Office report concludes tech safe harbours are ‘unbalanced’

Just finished a book and looking for a new, gripping read for the weekend ahead? Here’s a recommendation for you: ‘Section 512 of Title 17’. Admittedly, it’s got no wizards, romance, clutter-clearing tips or Henry VIII lopping people’s heads off. But in terms of music industry politics, it’s got the makings of a thriller.

The report is the US Copyright Office’s multi-year study of Section 512 of the US Copyright Act. That’s the part focused on safe harbours for internet service providers that allow user-generated content. Yes, we’re in ‘value gap’ territory here: the ongoing argument over whether copyright legislation (Section 512 in the case of the US) needs to be updated to – in the music industry’s view – bring platforms like YouTube more in to line with non-UGC services like Spotify in terms of licensing requirements.

It’s fair to say the music industry will be happy with the report. “The Copyright Office concludes that the operation of the section 512 safe harbor system today is unbalanced,” is the killer line. “The Report highlights areas where current implementation of section 512 is out of sync with Congress’ original intent, including: eligibility qualifications for the service provider safe harbors; repeat infringer policies; knowledge requirement standards; specificity within takedown notices; non-standard notice requirements; subpoenas; and injunctions.”

Posted inNews

How Otis McDonald built a career… through royalty-free YouTube music

With the EU Copyright Directive passed but still to be implemented by the different member states, the issue of the ‘value gap’ certainly hasn’t gone away.

At the heart of this debate is the argument that ‘user-uploaded content’ services, most notably YouTube, that use music as such a core part of their business should be paying more to music rightsholders.

It’s not that YouTube isn’t licensed or paying royalties – it is – but rather that (in rightsholders’ eyes) going into negotiations without the existing safe harbours would put YouTube on a level playing field with other services like Spotify, and (they hope) lead to higher payments.

It’s never been a contradiction that amid this often-bitter debate, a variety of artists have found ways to use YouTube as a platform for audience-building AND growing incomes. The latest has taken an unusual route.

Posted inNews

PRS for Music boss Robert Ashcroft talks growth, YouTube and Fortnite

“Maybe what I’ll say is this: I’ve done 10 years of this. I’m going to let someone else take on the internecine warfare that seems to be endemic to the music industry!”

Even when he’s playing a straight bat to a sensitive question – in this case, one about whether songwriters deserve a bigger slice of the music-streaming royalties pie – PRS for Music CEO Robert Ashcroft has a way with a one-liner.

At the end of 2019, he’ll step down as the British collecting society’s boss, exactly 10 years after his appointment as chief executive. It’s thus the last time Ashcroft will be doing his now-traditional Music Ally interview to mark the publication of PRS for Music’s annual figures.

Posted inNews

YouTube CEO says Article 13 is a threat to creator livelihoods

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has criticised the European Parliament’s recent vote to approve the Article 13 section of the proposed new European copyright directive, and suggested that the legislation could force her company to block videos from smaller creators, including educational channels.

“Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people – from creators like you to everyday users – to upload content to platforms like YouTube,” wrote Wojcicki in her latest quarterly letter to creators, which was published this afternoon.

Posted inReports

Report 418: Article of faith

This report looks at the aftermath of the recent Article 13 vote in the European Parliament. We’ve talked to several of the music bodies who were most involved in the lobbying process to find out what they think the vote means; what’s likely to happen next; and what that will mean for the long-running ‘value […]

To access this post, you must subscribe. If you are already a subscriber, log in here.