YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki published her quarterly letter to creators today, which included very strong language regarding the EU’s controversial copyright reform directive. Specifically, her letter focused on Article 13, the so-called “meme ban” that states that any site with a large amount of user-generated content — like Facebook or YouTube, for example — will be responsible for taking down content that infringes on copyright. Wojcicki says the way this legislation is written could “shut down the ability” of millions of people to upload to YouTube .
The legislation she’s referring to is Article 13 of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which the EU Parliament just recently voted to back. The Directive contains several parts, including another concerning “link tax,” which gives publishers the right to ask for paid licenses when online platforms share their articles and stories.
But YouTube is most concerned with Article 13, which impacts sites with user-generated content. In order to comply with the law, sites like YouTube would have to automatically scan and filter user uploads to ensure they aren’t in violation of copyright.
But today, users often express themselves by sampling, remixing and creating content using music, pictures and videos that would otherwise be considered copyrighted material. However, even though memes and parodies are protected by previous laws (in some countries), these upload filters wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a copyright violation and a meme — and they’d block content that should be allowed. This is how Article 13 became to be known as the “meme ban.”
‘Threat to millions’
Writes Wojcicki, “Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people — from creators like you to everyday users — to upload content to platforms like YouTube. It threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere. This includes YouTube’s incredible video library of educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to’s.”