YouTube CEO warns EU ‘meme ban’ threatens the open internet

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A screencap of from YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s video warning Creators of Article 13.Fotografia de: Image: YOUTUBE

YouTube is sounding the alarms at the highest level over new controversial copyright legislation in the EU.

In a new blog post updating YouTube creators on the company’s priorities for the remainder of the year, CEO Susan Wojcicki focused on Article 13 of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. 

While there are a number of problematic parts to this new legislation, such as Article 11 — which the EFF described as akin to a “link tax,” requiring internet platforms “to obtain a license before linking to news stories” — YouTube is putting the spotlight on Article 13, which has been widely referred to as a “meme ban.”

Article 13 of this new EU copyright law update, also known as the EU Copyright Directive, places copyright liabilities on sites with user-generated content, basically requiring them to scan uploads for copyrighted content. It’s been compared to YouTube’s own Content ID system for copyrighted material, but even YouTube believes it extends further than that. 

Memes, parodies, educational videos, or any sort of remixes — all kinds of content that makes up the YouTube community that would currently pass as fair use — could be in danger. This would have sprawling effects on the internet as a whole.

Wojcicki did not mince words, saying that “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.” She also highlighted the economic impact of the legislation stating that “hundreds of thousands of jobs” are threatened by Article 13. The YouTube CEO continued: “This legislation poses a threat to both your livelihood and your ability to share your voice with the world.”

Staying true to the platform, YouTube’s CEO also put out a video version of the letter, calling out the effects of Article 13 to the platform.

While European Parliament gave the thumbs up to move ahead with these new regulations last month, the process is not over. 

“Tell the world through social media (#SaveYourInternet) and your channel why the creator economy is important and how this legislation will impact you,” Wojcicki urged.

YouTube has set up a specific page on Article 13 located here, showcasing videos on the matter from a number of prominent creators.

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