European Union Tells YouTube: Pay Artists More!

European Commission draft directive will have sites like YouTube pay more to artists

European Union Expansion Celebration image by Rock Cohen, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0)

It’s time for YouTube to pay artists equally and fairly.

It’s difficult to argue that YouTube pays sufficiently for music and video content. But according to the BBC, a new European draft directive to reform copyrights laws will have video sites like YouTube pay more to both musicians and record companies, whether YouTube likes it or not.

The initiative is currently in the works, but it will also require publishers and producers to tell artists and performers and authors what their works have actually generated.

This doesn’t apply only to video sites. The directive will also force news portals like Google News to pay newspapers publishers an undisclosed fee when using extracts of news stories on the publishers’ sites.

Speaking with the BBC, Carlo Perrone, who currently heads up the European Newspapers’ Publishers’ Association, said that the creation of a copyright for news publishers in Europe is a “significant and historic step.” President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Jucker, said,

I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work, whether it is made in studios or living rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is published via a copying machine or hyperlinked on the web.”

How exactly will the Commission force YouTube to pay more to artists on their site? No specific details are currently available yet. This move comes after over 1,000 artists signed a letter asking European leaders to address what they call the “value gap” that exists between music consumption online and return revenues by sites like YouTube. This isn’t limited only to Europe, however. Hundreds of artists signed a petition for legislative reforms to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. The petition was sent to the U.S. Copyright Office.

YouTube was quick to strike back against claims that it hosted free, stolen content, stating,

We have paid out over $3 billion to the music industry — and that number is growing year on year.”

But these aren’t the only moves the draft directive are pushing for. One goal that the European Commission has in mind is to provide simpler access to all content online across EU countries as well as reform research and education copyright rules.

5 Responses

  1. Sturgis Nikides

    “We have paid out over $3 billion to the music industry — and that number is growing year on year.” My heart goes out to them. Google’s core revenue was $74.54 billion in 2015 alone, primarily earned by using content created by others.

    • Versus

      Exactly. Where would Google be without “content”? There would be no Google or YouTube; there would be nothing to search for or “consume”.

  2. Ynaz

    It’s not just streaming either. Using readily available applications (which I will not name here), it’s shockingly easy to bulk download the sound portion of thousands of YT videos at once, complete with image, track and artist name.

    • Versus

      Meanwhile I am sure that the makers of those apps make money.

  3. Versus

    Good for the E.U. May they win this and set a positive precedent. “Content” is not some negligible add-on to tech; it is the raison d’être for tech.

    GoogleTube: “We have paid out over $3 billion to the music industry — and that number is growing year on year.”

    Let’s keep repeating this mantra until everyone is convinced, shall we?

    That number is meaningless without context. The context includes:
    – How much paid per stream?
    – How much paid to a given artist, per song?
    – How does that income compare to the income the song would have derived from other legitimate sources, in the absence of piracy and devaluation sites like YouTube (a difficult comparison, but there should be ways to roughly estimate this)?

    GoogleTube is laughing all the way to the bank, emboldened by DMCA loopholes and the devaluation of music by piracy to claim “we pay something, which is better than nothing”. Sure, and eating crumbs from the floor under the table where the new aristocracy eat with their hands in faux-adolescent opulence is better than starvation.

    YouTube to artists: LET THEM EAT CAKE (CRUMBS).