YouTube says EU copyright rules could see people banned from uploading videos and poses ‘threat’ to way site works

Passionate comment reflects widespread outrage about 'meme ban'

Andrew Griffin
Monday 22 October 2018 16:27 BST
Youtube Says EU copyright rules could see people banned from uploading videos and poses threat to way site works

YouTube says that new EU copyright rules could force it to ban people from uploading their own videos.

It says that the new directive puts its entire creative community at risk and that the new rules could "drastically change the internet that you see today".

The comments from YouTube boss Susan Wojcicki‏ are just one part of widespread outrage about the new rules, which campaigners have referred to as the 'meme ban'.

One of the most controversial part of the EU's new copyright directive, known as article 13, will force major platforms like YouTube to scan through everything uploaded to them and ensure that nothing in it includes copyrighted content. Campaigners argue that could force companies to ban memes that use pictures or gifs from existing media, and that it could damage the way that social networks operate.

Opposition to the rules has united copyright campaigners and the major internet platforms, which have argued that it could undermine the very way the internet works. Now YouTube has spoken out in perhaps the most passionate comments from the tech industry yet.

The company said that YouTube could be forced to stop allowing normal users to upload videos, instead concentrating them in the hands of a small number of big companies. Viewers in the EU could be blocked from viewing some videos and small creators could be ruined, the company said.

Ms Wojcicki wrote that article 13 "threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people – from creators like you to everyday users – to upload content to platforms like YouTube", in a letter written to the site's community of video creators. "It threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere," she wrote.

The new rules also "threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs", she said.

"The proposal could force platforms, like YouTube, to allow only content from a small number of large companies," she wrote. "​It would be too risky for platforms to host content from smaller original content creators, because the platforms would now be directly liable for that content."

Article 13 is just one part of a sweeping set of copyright rules that proponents claim will help fight against the theft and reuse of videos and music. Another controversial part of the rules is article 11, which will create a "link tax" and mean that sites like Google could have to pay to show a snippet of the websites they link out to.

EU lawmakers have voted through the new rules and their wording could be finalised by the end of the year. The directive is expected to go into force soon after that.

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