[We’re thrilled to have a chance to publish an important Twitter thread by composer Kerry Muzzey that crystalizes a number of phenomena: How Kerry caught YouTube using Content ID as a tool to extend the period of time that they can profit from infringement (or the “piracy profit window”)…
[Editor Charlie sez: Let the FUD farming begin! Google fires up the addiction tactics in Europe after its miserable anti-artist message was rejected by the European Parliament. Read this article if you want to know what Google’s talking points will be in Europe.]
[Now here’s some objective journalism: “EU member states still have two years to write the vague language of the directive into law, and YouTube is not done pushing back on it.”]
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.
In case you had any doubts, YouTube’s antics in pushing its messaging on copyright reform in Europe should dispel the idea that it is a neutral platform.
When safe harbors for companies like YouTube were created in the US and in Europe 20 years ago, it was with the idea of providing a little latitude to reasonable people acting reasonably on the condition of being a neutral platform–for not creating an app for Room 101 where 2+2=5.
Not only is YouTube not a neutral platform, but YouTube and its parent Google are using YouTube to do the very thing with public discourse that Google is being prosecuted for with commercial transactions–using its monopoly position to crowd out competition.
This press release from Europe for Creators sums it up with this statement to YouTube: “You advocate freedom of expression but what we have seen is a media service dedicated to the promotion of its own views, based on false information and scare tactics.”
A cautionary tale for artist advocates around the world.
Brussels, 15 March 2019
Europe For Creators is asking YouTube for access to the same tools YT has used to promote its own messages on the EU’s copyright directive and article 13. The request is to allow Europe For Creators to message YouTubers and place banner ads on YouTube’s network, in the same way YT has done. An open letter has been sent by Europe For Creators, a coalition of professional organisations of writers, musicians, producers, comedians, films makers coming from all over Europe and representing 12 million jobs across the European cultural and creative sectors. YouTube’s behaviour in using its own network and advertising has been the subject of much debate about the platform’s dominance. Read the full letter below and on Article13.org.
An Open Letter to Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube
Dear Ms Wojcicki,
After almost three years’ worth of in-depth examinations and negotiations involving the three EU Institutions, 28 Member States, 751 MEPs, and thousands of experts and stakeholders, the European Parliament is about to take a formal decision on the directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.
The aim of one of the main provisions of this directive – Article 13 – is to ensure that platforms such as YouTube fairly compensate the creators whose works are made available through their services. In other words, to play fair and respect the creators who made YouTube what it is today.
We believe that the Copyright Directive will create a level playing field for the European Digital Single Market, with fair and equal rules for all.
There is ample public debate around this directive and your right to defend your position, as a concerned party, is not in question. Indeed, the positions you have taken in the media or through your own videos against Article 13 are well known and nourish the public debate.
However, since the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Sept. 12 to approve its version of the Copyright Directive, YouTube has been actively using its own services to influence public opinion, often with misleading or false information.
You have taken advantage of your considerable influence over 1.8 billion monthly users as the biggest media entity in the world to:
- Circulate your own message to video makers and YouTubers
- Create a uniquely formatted page, similar to SaveYourInternet, on Youtube.com
- Create a portal comprising all videos defending your position on Article 13
- Run banners, pop-ups and push notifications on YouTube defending your point of view and directing traffic to your unique YouTube.com webpage
This is unprecedented and raises ethical questions.
Moreover, YouTube enabled the propagation of misinformation – such as the claims that Article 13 would lead to the shutting down of YouTube channels, kill European startups, put an end to memes and gifs and harm freedom of speech. In other words: change the Internet as we know it. Such scaremongering deliberately ignores the special protections provided in the text and misleads public opinion.
It interferes with the democratic and balanced debate that all European citizens are entitled to. We believe it is totally unfair and unacceptable that your service, which dominates the online market, is exclusively used as a media service to promote your own commercial interests in a debate over European legislation.
You advocate freedom of expression but what we have seen is a media service dedicated to the promotion of its own views, based on false information and scare tactics.
We believe in pluralism and open, democratic debate. We believe our views also need to be voiced to your audience. That is what freedom of speech is all about.
This is why we are asking you to let us, over the week of March 18-24:
- send a message to the same YouTubers so we can share with them our vision of article 13 – the one we promote on our website, www.article13.org.
- publish banner ads on YouTube as you did for the “saveyourinternet” campaign
Acting as a media service requires responsibility and accountability to ensure democratic debate.
EUROPE FOR CREATORS
About Europe For Creators:
A gathering of professional organisations of writers, musicians, producers, comedians, films makers coming from all over Europe…. We represent some 12 million jobs across the European cultural and creative sectors. We are people, not bots. And we are protesting against the false divide that has been put between citizens and us.
IMPALA – IMPALA is the European association of independent music companies. Its mission is to grow the independent music sector, return more value to artists, promote cultural diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access and modernise perceptions of the music sector.
Several major companies have reportedly pulled advertisements on YouTube following a report that the comment sections on the site have been used to facilitate “a soft-core pedophile ring.”
Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that Walt Disney Co. has joined Nestle and video game maker Epic Games in pulling advertising from YouTube, days after a YouTube user named Matt Watson uploaded a video explaining how YouTube comment sections are used to identify and share exploitative videos of young girls.
Watson said in his video that YouTube’s algorithm has helped facilitate the ability of pedophiles to trade social media contacts, provide links to “actual child porn” and trade “unlisted videos in secret.”
Bloomberg News cited “people with knowledge of the matter” in reporting that Disney has since withheld its advertising spending from YouTube.
[Editor Charlie sez: Cherie Hu presents a good argument for why artists and fans should demand the “user centric” royalty, or what Chris Castle calls the “Ethical Pool” approach that he’s working on.]
Fraud is applicable because there’s a tangible price tag involved in the consumption of a song: Labels and other rights owners are paid on a pro-rata basis, according to proportional volumes of on-demand streams. The average per-stream payout may not look like much — $0.004 for Spotify, slightly more for services like Apple Music and Tidal ($0.008 and $0.012, respectively), although exact rates depend on the type of artist or song….
But they can add up. A top hit like Ed Sheeran’s 2017 monster “Shape of You” would distribute millions of dollars in performance royalties to its songwriters and even more to the master-rights owner. Using Goldman Sachs’ projection that the streaming sector will hit $34 billion by 2030, millions of dollars in fraudulently acquired funds could be making their way through the royalty chain. Though unlike Twitter, which wiped out 6% of its users, the number of fake music streamers has not been determined. Says one major label head: “It’s not something we’re currently concerned about, but that’s not to say we won’t be in the future.”
“Music streaming payouts are a zero-sum game,” says another industry insider. “It is imperative that services are vigilant and sophisticated in their controls to ensure that streaming fraud doesn’t dilute payments to the artists who have rightfully earned those payments”….
Here’s how “playola” works at playlist-promotion companies like Spotlister: A customer pays the company to secure prominent placement of a song on key playlists, such as those on Spotify. When a track is uploaded, it is analyzed and its metadata is used to send it to the most appropriate playlists.
[Chris Castle says: Remember that high profile criminal payola cases were prosecuted under state law commercial bribery statutes and not only the federal anti-payola or plugola laws. Alan Freed pleaded to commercial bribery for actions which are literally nothing compared to what Spotify does every day. While the federal payola laws apply to FCC licensed radio stations, commercial bribery prohibitions are not restricted to radio–so Internet companies need to take this a lot more seriously. “Because Internet” is less of a defense every day.]
Martin Vassilev makes a good living selling fake views on YouTube videos. Working from home in Ottawa, he has sold about 15 million views so far this year, putting him on track to bring in more than $200,000, records show.
Mr. Vassilev, 32, does not provide the views himself. His website, 500Views.com, connects customers with services that offer views, likes and dislikes generated by computers, not humans. When a supplier cannot fulfill an order, Mr. Vassilev — like a modern switchboard operator — quickly connects with another.
“I can deliver an unlimited amount of views to a video,” Mr. Vassilev said in an interview. “They’ve tried to stop it for so many years, but they can’t stop it. There’s always a way around.”
After Google, more people search on YouTube than on any other site. It is the most popular platform among teenagers, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center, beating out giants like Facebook and Instagram. With billions of views a day, the video site helps spur global cultural sensations, spawn careers, sell brands and promote political agendas.