Article 13

Youtube flagged up this little box on my screen today:

“Learn more about Article 13 [it] could have unintended consequences.” It said, and promised that “There is a better way”.

I didn’t even know what Article 13 was, or that there was such an Article (I generally avoid the news, although I’m sure that in the history of articles there must be at least one #13), and what are Article 12 and 14 about, I wonder. Before all of that I clicked the LEARN MORE link.

It turns out that the Article 13 thing is something invented by the European Union, that great internet meddler, the same one that inflicts my screen and eyes with numerous pointless cookie/privacy prompts throughout the day, as I have recently ranted about. Youtube states, in a topic called #saveyourinternet, that:

Article 13 is one part of a proposed European Union (EU) copyright legislation created with the intent to better protect creativity and find effective ways for copyright holders to protect their content online.

They then provide a link to the Article which reads like those “copyright holders” are the ones pulling the strings here. This isn’t the individual artists I might add, but the big boys; the controllers of media. More on this in a moment.

Youtube go on to say that they “support the goals of Article 13 … [but it] will create large unintended consequences for everyone…”

But what are the goals?

One should not just go by what is stated in the lines of the Article, but between those lines of the Article. What kind of world will Article 13 lead us into? An Orwellian one of course.

That original notification claimed that “There is a better way” but I fail to see any suggestion of what Youtube thinks that better way should be beyond expecting Rights-holders to contact them and each and every platform in turn when they’ve had something they claim ownership of used in a way they don’t agree with.

Rightsholders should work with platforms to identify the content they own, so the platforms know what is protected under copyright and can give rightsholders control to block if they choose.

I’ve heard Facebook receive criticisms in a similar fashion over people publishing adverts with fake endorsements.

But why should Rights-holders be the ones to contact all of the various platforms?

This is like saying, I can create a media-sharing site, lets imagine it remains small and inconsequential but people can upload anything they want, containing copyright protected material or not, but that it is the responsibility of the copyright holder of that copyright protected material to detect/discover that content on my platform and then contact me and have that material removed. It seems nonsensical.

I also think (and agree with Youtube’s claim) that it would be nonsensical to ban all uploads unless the content can be guaranteed copyright infringement free (as they’re saying Article 13 will expect of them), although I don’t think there should be a one size fits all approach; I think smaller outlets (i.e. Youtubers who upload only a small amount of content that reaches a minuscule audience) should be treated with far more leniency than the larger and more well established ones; although everyone should be educated early on about what is acceptable. “Fair usage” people might cry, before just blatantly using someone else’s work in almost its entirety.

What is my experience in all of this?

To be honest I think very slight. I have created a small number of short videos for Youtube. Some have been music-based where I have played along with popular songs and for those I would always acknowledge the original artist, although generally I think it’s obvious I’m not the original artist. More recently I have created non-music-based videos but have taken the time to source “free” music for those videos to be included in the background. Again I acknowledge the original source of that music, even if I’m not required to do so, and even though it’s probably obvious I didn’t create the music (if I had, then I would probably state it!) In both of these examples I have noticed that Youtube’s systems have occasionally noticed copyrighted content and flagged this up. On one more lengthy video where I had taken the time to source what I thought was freely usable music I was annoyed to see the video flagged up as containing copyrighted content. It was frustrating because it seemed my viewers might be inflicted with extra advertising to be used to compensate the copyright holder who it turned out had created music to make use of this very revenue-generating system. I had considered taking the video down and re-editing it without the music but since I had edited various scenes to fall in time with that very music and since I don’t get all that many viewers, I didn’t see the point; it was just something to learn from.

There are many Youtubers who will surely have similar experiences and it seems to be a running joke among some when they need to play a piece of music to demonstrate something (like Techmoan when he is demonstrating some music equipment for example) that they can’t play more than a couple of seconds of a track without being penalised.

These are just some examples of the heavy-hand of the system already limiting our own individual freedoms to create and share something, or watch and absorb; sure, what someone else has created may add a little something to that piece but often I wish people could just create without complaining about money (I’ve had blog posts turn up on other sites without my say-so and without proper credit), but who cares? I think shame on those that blatantly steal other people’s stuff to only make out that it’s theirs, it’s pitiful, but it shouldn’t stop those who can and do create from doing so.

Regarding those that back the creative world with big money, they’re the ones dictating this Article 13, I’m pretty sure of it; EU big-wigs don’t make this stuff up on their own (not unless there is money involved). Article 13 will limit what media is inflicted on us and by limiting what Media is inflicted on us, from music, to TV shows and films, or anything entertaining, we’ll in turn have our perspective of the world limited (more so than we do already).


  1. A really interesting piece. YouTube accused me of a breach on a guitar variation around a Beatles tune -obviously insufficient variation but strangely, another tune I played straight has never been picked up at all. I’m also interested because I’ve just done a posted about text plagiarism and it seems to me there will always be ways get away with it undetected.

  2. Corporations don’t care about artists, they care about infringement on copyrights they own. Take “Happy Birthday” for instance — all about $ for infringement (or license).

    So, Google being judicious in their enforcement… Bah! It’s about protecting their fellow corporate cronies. That, and avoiding lawsuits from the likes of Taylor Swift and her ilk.

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