Samuel Jones largely lives off the money he makes from YouTube as a TV and film reviewer.
“In terms of paying rent, buying food, buying cigarettes, it’s all YouTube money,” he said.
Recently, Jones and Bardsley have been thinking about a backup plan. Like other content creators who have built brands and businesses on tech platforms like YouTube, they fear their livelihood and creative outlet could be threatened by a new copyright directive passed by the European Union in March.
Under the new rules, which member states have two years to formally write into law, tech platforms like YouTube could be held liable for hosting copyrighted content without the proper rights and licensing. That’s a big change from the status quo, which generally assumes platforms are not legally liable for their users’ uploads so long as they take down infringing content once flagged. But according to the directive, companies like YouTube can soon be held liable unless they can also prove they made “best efforts” to get authorization for the content and prevent it from being shared without rights in the first place.
YouTube and other tech platforms have argued that the only practical way to avoid liability will be to install even more restrictive content filters than the ones they currently have to prevent infringement. The EU directive does not require tech companies to do that and it makes exceptions for using copyrighted material in parody or commentary, as would be the case in Jones and Bardsley’s reviews.
But experts say it will be difficult for platforms to create automated filters that can distinguish this context, at least at first. That could mean a channel like “NitPix” would have to avoid using any movie or TV clips in their reviews to ensure their videos upload to the site in a timely manner.
YouTube is ready to put up a fight against the EU measure, which threatens to force it to block a wide swath of content and slow down the process of uploading videos to the site to avoid liability. If YouTube chose to block copyrighted content with stricter upload filters, everything from a family video of a couple’s first wedding dance to a potentially viral dance challenge video like a “Harlem Shake ” flash mob could be blocked from the site. Frustrated creators and users may flee the platform if it no longer provides the outlet for their creativity or boredom.
If creators take their work elsewhere, that would mean fewer videos to watch on YouTube and fewer chances for YouTube to generate ad revenue. The company is already under pressure to grow ad revenue after changes to its algorithms over the past year have likely hurt engagement in favor of winning back scorned advertisers worried about their brands appearing next to unseemly videos.
Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat blamed YouTube in part for the company’s decelerating ad revenue growth in its first quarter 2019, which sent Google’s stock plunging more than 7% following the report.
“While YouTube clicks continue to grow at a substantial pace in the first quarter, the rate of YouTube click growth rate decelerated versus a strong Q1 last year, reflecting changes that we made in early 2018, which we believe are overall additive to the user and advertiser experience,” Porat said on a call with analysts after the report.
YouTube recognizes the importance of keeping its creators happy on the platform. In an April 30 blog post, CEO Susan Wojcicki said YouTube will aim to further promote a wider array of creator videos in its trending tab to answer concerns that the same creators seemed to be featured all the time.
Wojcicki also said YouTube is working on improving its “Manual Claiming” tool so that YouTubers aren’t unfairly penalized for copyright claims stemming from extremely short or incidental content usage. But under the new directive, YouTube would likely have to rethink this claiming process…….Read more>>