(Hypebot) — As the debate over Article 13 rages on, the recent launch of YouTube’s upload filter, designed to sift out illicit uploads and which cost the platform about $100 million, has, according to Mike Masnick, shown what a disaster the piece of legislation will be for the internet as a whole.
Op-ed by Mike Masnick of Techdirt
The entire Article 13 debate is a weird one. It appears that both the recording industry and the film industry are going for broke on this one. The lobbying on this started a few years back, with the rather clever but completely bogus idea of the “value gap.”
In case you haven’t followed it, the idea of the “value gap” is that (1) YouTube pays less to musicians record labels than Spotify and Apple Music do for streams. (2) YouTube’s general purpose video hosting platform is protected by intermediary protection laws (DMCA 512 in the US, Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive in the EU) allowing users to upload whatever they want, and YouTube only has to takedown infringing works upon notice. (3) Services like Spotify and Apple Music license all their works. (4) The “lower rates” that YouTube pays must be the result of the safe harbor, and the difference in payments is the “value gap.” Article 13, then, is supposed to “fix” the value gap by completely removing any notice-and-takedown safe harbor for copyright-covered works.
Of course, almost all of this is bullshit. YouTube is used in very, very different ways from Spotify and Apple Music. While YouTube does have a competing music streaming service that is similar to Spotify/Apple Music, its payment rates there are equivalent. But on the general open platform, the rates are different. This is not because of the safe harbors, but because people use the platforms very, very differently. People use Spotify/Apple Music almost like radio — to put on music that is constantly streaming playlists of songs. YouTube has all sorts of content, most of it not music, and while some may use it as a radio-style experience, that is fairly rare. And the recording industry has always received different rates based on different platforms and different kinds of usage.
Meanwhile, Article 13 will do nothing to solve the “problem” that all the “value gap” people keep insisting is a problem. That’s because Article 13 will basically require an upload filter that will spot infringing works and block them before they get on the site (there’s more to it than that, but that’s a basic approximation of what the law will require in practice). Basically, the only company that has actually done this already… is YouTube! YouTube has its ContentID system, which it has spent over $100 million developing, and which can block uploads and pull down content.
And… let’s take a look at just how much damage such a system causes. Remember, YouTube has spent more on its filter than anyone else (by far) and it is considered easily the most sophisticated and advanced such filter.
And it sucks.
Last week, I saw musician Dan Bull (who wrote/performed the Techdirt podcast theme song) complaining that he had he had received a copyright claim on a video that was his own work, and from someone whose work was not in the video at all:
The issue, apparently, was that both Dan Bull and the claimant — another independent rap artist — had used the same instrumental, that was available on a “non-exclusive” basis, meaning lots of artists could use it. That indie artist then tried to monetize their own work, but ContentID found anyone using the same properly licensed instrumental and gave people a strike.
And, even the way in which YouTube communicated with Dan Bull was ridiculous:
If you can’t see that, YouTube told him that “your copyright dispute is currently being reviewed by the copyright owner,” to which Dan Bull rightly pointed out that’s bullshit, because it’s not “the copyright holder” who is reviewing it.
A day later, someone else pointed me to a nearly identical situation with another super popular YouTube musician, The Fat Rat. A third party claimed copyright on his song and YouTube rejected The Fat Rat’s dispute.