[Editor Charlie sez: Lyor is the distraction.]
We are pleased that Lyor Cohen says he is making it his mission to direct some of YouTube’s revenues back to the music creators who drive its success. His optimism is encouraging. But to be honest, we’ve heard pretty much the same claims and arguments from YouTube before. So while Lyor’s heart may be in the right place, the numbers and YouTube’s actions tell a different story.
Let’s be real about what we know:
1. Google’s YouTube is the world’s biggest on-demand music service, with more than 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users. But it exploits a “safe harbor” in the law that was never intended for it, to avoid paying music creators fairly. This not only hurts musicians, it also jeopardizes music’s fragile recovery and gives YouTube an unfair competitive advantage that harms the digital marketplace and innovation.
2. Lyor claims the focus on this safe harbor is “a distraction,” but it’s YouTube that seems obsessed with this legal pretext, probably because it’s the safe harbor that enables YouTube to drive down payments to creators, inappropriately. The safe harbor was intended to protect passive Internet platforms with no knowledge of what its users are doing, not active music distributors like YouTube. As Lyor acknowledges in his blog, “the majority of music…is coming from [YouTube’s] recommendations, rather than people searching for what they want to listen to.”
It’s no mere “distraction” when YouTube uses the safe harbor to skew negotiations with music creators in its favor; to offer a below-market rate and say “take it or leave it,” knowing that by “leaving it” music creators will have to spend countless hours and resources sending takedown notices when they find unauthorized copy after copy of their music on YouTube, only to find them pop right back up again.
That’s precisely why dozens of music organizations and thousands of individual creators across the entire global music spectrum have banded together to protest the existing laws — www.valuethemusic.com — or simply asked YouTube to be a better partner: YouTubeCanDoBetter. Their concerns are real, their indignation is genuine. To dismiss that is to turn a deaf ear to an entire creative community.
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According to multiple sources including the London Times, the UK’s Solicitor General floated the possibility that Google executives may face criminal prosecution for revenue share agreements with terrorist supporters posting videos on YouTube that Google monetized with advertising. So not only would Google be in breach of its promises to advertisers, Google might also have breached the UK’s terror laws, money laundering statutes, or committed the usual list of lesser and included crimes.
Google could be prosecuted under anti-terrorism legislation if it fails to remove illegal content from its YouTube video platform, ministers said yesterday.
Robert Buckland, QC, the solicitor general, said that the internet giant could be criminally liable if it was found to have “recklessly” disseminated videos posted by extreme groups such as National Action, a far-right group proscribed as a terrorist organisation in December.
Mr Buckland also revealed that the government was considering adopting a German law which would allow huge fines to be levied on social media companies that failed to crack down on hate speech and illegal content.
Before you either snicker or drool at the idea of Google executives being frog marched out of their palatial offices in handcuffs and leg irons, remember a few of the examples of corporate crooks and just how long it took to actually get them into the pokey. But also remember this–if you had told a room full of MBAs in 1985 that in a few years time Drexel Bernham Lambert would be bankrupt and Michael Milken would be in prison, you would have been laughed out of the room.
Read the post on Music Tech Policy
“Lyor may have an impact for them in other areas,” says Irving Azoff, chairman/CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, who formed the Global Music Rights group to address online music use. “But as for rights negotiation, YouTube can spin it any way they want, but the reality is that they’re the reason that paid streaming hasn’t exploded. There is a huge value gap in consumption versus revenue.”
One February afternoon, Lyor Cohen shows me around the soundstage at YouTube Space LA. The new facility, located on the site of what was once a Hughes Aircraft plant for building helicopters, is one of nine that parent company Google has built around the world to encourage the creation and evolution of user-generated programming. For a 57-year-old man who was plastering Snapchat with videos and pictures of his emergency hospitalization for a pulmonary embolism a few months ago, Cohen looks as vigorous as a panther.
“I don’t need to take it slow,” he says when asked about his health. “In fact, I’m accelerating. I’m moving hard.”
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YouTube stars have started a labour guild to represent low paid video producers for sites like YouTube. But it promises to be really, really polite and it won’t be asking Google for more money.
Hank Green is a YouTube video producer, who describes himself as a “Internetainerpreneur” (which is all you need to know, really, but do carry on reading). He explains that his new Internet Creators Guild is needed because being a YouTube sharecropper is now a full time job.
Green reckons 3,000 people earn $2,500 a year from consistently reaching 100,000 viewers a month. (For perspective, Alphabet, YouTube’s owner, earns $533 per second).
“I have watched creators get strong-armed and even swindled. I’ve watched people lose their channels. I’ve watched them flee from abuse,” says Green. But curiously, demanding better pay does not make the the top 10 list of things the Guild wants to do. Nor do many of the usual requests that you’d expect a labour guild to make feature.
Top of the list is “educating journalists” about the wonderfulness of YouTube. Next up is sharing information about MultiChannel Networks, who are Google affiliates, but not Google itself.
Read the post on The Register