EU rapporteur questions YouTube’s right to exist under Copyright Directive

According to the German MEP Axel Voss, as platforms such as YouTube aim to give people access to copyrighted material, we must consider whether those platforms have a right to exist.

Axel Voss led the negotiations for the Copyright Directive. In an interview with Deutsche Welle about the new EU copyright directive, he says that platforms like YouTube have created a business model with other people’s property, namely copyrighted works. “If the purpose of the platform is to give people access to these works, then we have to ask ourselves whether these types of companies should even exist.” According to Voss, the new legislation improves the situation for the European creators industry.

Furthermore, Voss says that the impact of the renewed EU copyright directive is limited. “We’re focusing on platforms like YouTube that infringe copyrighted works. Only 1.5 percent of internet platforms are affected.” He points to the exceptions in the current version of the renewed EU Copyright Directive, whereby only small sites that are not older than three years are more or less exempted from the obligation of Article 13, namely the obligation to prevent copyrighted material on platforms is uploaded.

This renewed copyright line has been criticized, in particular Article 11 and Article 13, where the former article is about the ‘link tax’. The criticism mainly focuses on article 13. According to critics, this article will lead to a situation in which websites feel forced to set upload filters, because in practice it will prove difficult or impossible to conclude license agreements with all conceivable authors.

The German privacy watchdog also warned of privacy concerns and recently a UN expert ruled that the new EU copyright directive is not in line with international standards on freedom of expression. According to him, the information diversity is under pressure due to Article 13. The criticism is also that the filters are not able to distinguish properly and will therefore also block content that is not protected by copyright.

Agreement has been reached behind closed doors on the final text of the Copyright Directive. This agreement followed after France and Germany reached a compromise. Between 25 and 28 March, the final vote on the directive will be taken during the plenary session in the European Parliament.