The open internet eliminated the barriers of traditional media gatekeepers and ignited a new global creative economy for creators and artists. It has given anyone with an idea the ability to share their passion, find fans all over the world and build a business. Despite best intentions, I believe this may now be at risk as European policymakers prepare to vote on a new European Copyright Directive on September 12. In fact, some parts of the proposal under consideration – and in particular the part known as "Article 13” -- potentially undermine this creative economy, discouraging or even prohibiting platforms from hosting user-generated content. This outcome would not only stifle your creative freedom, it could have severe, negative consequences for the fans, the communities and the revenue you have all worked so hard to create.
Creators and artists have built businesses on the back of openness and supported by our sophisticated copyright management tools, including Content ID and the recently launched Copyright Match Tool that manages re-uploads of creators’ content. Copyright holders have control over their content: they can use our tools to block or remove their works, or they can keep them on YouTube and earn advertising revenue. In over 90% of cases, they choose to leave the content up. Enabling this new form of creativity and engagement with fans can lead to mass global promotion and even more revenue for the artist. For instance, a growing list of global artists have seen their songs go viral in fan-made dance videos, such as Drake’s “In My Feelings” and Maître Gims’ Sapés Comme Jamais. Dua Lipa got her start singing covers and Alan Walker allowed his track Fade to be used in user generated content and video games, which helped him build a massive global fanbase. That’s what makes platforms like YouTube special: fan videos have the power to help propel established songs to new heights and even break new artists. This is the new creative economy in action.
The Copyright Directive won’t just affect creators and artists on YouTube. It will also apply to many forms of user generated content across the Internet. And that’s why so many other people are raising concerns too. Individuals, organizations (like European Digital Rights and the Internet Archive), companies (like Patreon, Wordpress, and Medium), the Internet’s original architects and pioneers (like Sir Tim Berners Lee), and the UN Special Rapporteur for free expression have spoken out. Creators across the Internet are standing up for their right to create and express themselves, including Phil DeFranco, LeFloid, and TO JUZ Jutro.
Growing up behind the iron curtain in communist Czechoslovakia without the openness we now take for granted, I have a deep personal conviction to preserve this freedom. I have made my voice heard here and there’s still time for you to weigh in before September 12th. Every single creator, including you, deserves their say. I hope you will learn more and consider sharing your views on social media (#SaveYourInternet) and with policymakers. Along with the links above, you can also learn more at ChangeCopyright.org.