Axel Voss Says Maybe YouTube Shouldn't Exist

from the say-what-now? dept

I’m beginning to think that Axel Voss, the Member of the European Parliament in charge of ramming through the EU Copyright Directive, doesn’t have much of a clue about how either copyright or the internet works. Last week, we pointed out that he was making provably false statements about Article 13, and wondered why he’d be doing that. But the more he talks, the more I’m wondering if he simply doesn’t understand the basics of either copyright law or the internet. The latest comes in some quotes he gave in a great article by, which correctly highlights how Article 13 is going to lead to widespread censorship. Voss tries to defend it with some truly bizarre claims:

?We are just concentrating on platforms that are infringing on copyrighted works like YouTube. Not for dating platforms or merchandising or local social platforms. Only 1.5% of internet platforms will be affected.?

Only 1.5% of platforms will be affected? I think we’re going to need to slap a giant “citation needed” on that one. According to the released text, the law will apply to the following:

?online content sharing service provider? means a provider of an information society service whose main or one of the main purposes is to store and give the public access to a large amount of copyright protected works or other protected subject-matter uploaded by its users which it organises and promotes for profit-making purposes. Providers of services such as not-for profit online encyclopedias, not-for profit educational and scientific repositories, open source software developing and sharing platforms, electronic communication service providers as defined in Directive 2018/1972 establishing the European Communications Code, online marketplaces and business-to business cloud services and cloud services which allow users to upload content for their own use shall not be considered online content sharing service providers within the meaning of this Directive.

The special carve-outs for “non-profit online encyclopedias, not-for profit educational and scientific repositories, open source software developing and sharing platforms” came after Wikipedia and Github pointed out how impossible Article 13 would make their future existence. Either way, the giant misunderstanding here, is that basically everything is covered by copyright. So, any site that enables user-generated content, and is a for profit entity, will “store and give access to a large amount of copyright protected works or other protected subject-matter uploaded by its users which it organizes and promotes for profit-making purposes.” That’s called the internet. The law clearly impacts way more than 1.5% of internet platforms.

Even more to the point: even if Voss and his allies can scrape together some nonsense by listing out all sorts of other websites that wouldn’t be impacted by this, the number of websites is the wrong metric. The real question is about how much of the internet that people interact with on a daily basis would be impacted: and there the answer is a ton of it. There are a whole bunch of rankings of the “top websites” out there, but skimming through a bunch of them you see that a huge number of the most popular websites would be impacted by this: Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, Pinterest, Linkedin, Twitch, Imgur, Pornhub, WordPress and more. If you add in some of the top Chinese sites, it gets even bigger.

But here’s the bigger issue: Voss then seems to suggest none of these sites should even exist. No, really:

?We all have legal obligations to fulfill. If you have a massive platform like YouTube you will have to use a technological solution. Everyone has these obligations. They have created a business model with the property of other people ? on copyright protected works. If the intention of the platform is to give people access to copyright protected works then we have to think about whether this kind of business should exist. The new legislation is improving the situation for the European creators industry.?

Say what now? Not exist at all? This whole thing seems to be based on the false premise — often pushed by the RIAA and MPAA — that YouTube was solely created to allow users to upload others’ professional content. That’s not accurate at all. The entire basis for YouTube was to allow people to express themselves. And they do. The top channels on YouTube are not people uploading other people’s infringing content, but independent creators creating their own amazing new content that wouldn’t have been possible in an age before YouTube.

So how is it that Axel Voss is considered an authority on this? He doesn’t seem to understand that every new work is covered by copyright, so any website that hosts user-uploaded content — audio, video, text, images, etc. — is subject to this law. He also doesn’t seem to understand that none of these sites are built with the intent of having people upload infringing material, it’s just that some segment of the population will do that. Because that’s part of how the internet works. But the good from all this — the ability for anyone to create and share their content, as well as the vast ability of people to find and discover new and amazing content — greatly outweighs the fact that it might change the business model for a few legacy companies.

Voss’ final line is a real kicker. “Improving the situation for the European creators industry.” Uh, no it’s not. More people are creating than ever before, and they’re using the tools that Article 13 will punish to do so. When people have fewer places to share their content or to make money from their content, that’s not helping creators or the “creators industry.” Sure, it might help a very small number of old gatekeeper companies — record labels, book publishers, movie studios — be in a position to demand more money from internet companies, but thinking that those old gatekeepers represent the “creators industry” is ludicrously out of touch.

Still the fact that Voss is now admitting that the real goal behind Article 13 is to move us to a world where “maybe” YouTube “shouldn’t exist,” perhaps he can apologize for his comments last week in which he insisted that all he really wanted “is what already exists” and which “online platforms have already put into practice.” Yes, just last week, he was saying that the rules “will not go beyond what is currently in place and things will largely remain as they are now.” And this week he’s saying, well, actually maybe “this kind of company should not exist.”

Axel Voss seems willing to say anything, no matter how contradictory, how obviously incorrect, to push through Article 13.

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Comments on “Axel Voss Says Maybe YouTube Shouldn't Exist”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Let the purge begin

If ‘it can be used for X, therefore it was created for X, and needs to be treated as though it’s only used for X’ is the idea he wants to run with then forget just gutting the internet, time to take a chainsaw to other industries too.

Cars can be used to commit crimes, therefore they need to be treated as though their only use is for committing crimes and outlawed.
The roads that cars travel on can be used to facilitate crimes…
Phones can be used…
The mail can be used…
Stores selling pretty much anything can result in crimes…

Everyone has these obligations. They have created a business model with the property of other people – on copyright protected works.

Funny thing is, he’s technically correct here, just not in the grossly dishonest way he intends it as. Yes, platforms like YT are built upon copyright protected works, because barring public domain works everything is copyright protected, and when someone uploads a work technically YT and the like are benefiting thanks to ‘property of other people’, generally the same person who uploaded the work.

He’s trying to conflate two very different things here, infringing works that wouldn’t fall under fair use and aren’t owned by the person who uploaded them, and works which would fall under fair use or are owned by the person who uploaded them, and acting as though the sites were created for the former rather than the latter.

At best he comes out yet again looking like an ignorant buffoon, but far more likely I’d say is that this is yet another example where he’ll say whatever he things will benefit him the most at any given moment, though he may have overstepped himself here, as making clear that YT is definitely in the cross-hairs is likely to cause a notable backlash.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let the purge begin

I suspect you could not pay him to post on TD, as unlike the spineless PR flacks posing as reporters that just allow him to say anything with no pushback, there is no way in hell he’d be able to get away with that here. He’d be called out on his lies left and right, and since that’s all he’s got, all it would do it hurt his case and image.

rainer (user link) says:

Don't let morons decide on internet legislation

"If the intention of the platform is to give people access to copyright protected works then we have to think about whether this kind of business should exist."

If the intention of Axel Voss is to take away the possibility from people to share their creative work, then we have to think about wether this kind of politician should be able to decide on that issue.

Yes, Axel Voss has a right to exist on this planet. Bu we should not give him the power to mess up things for hundreds of millions of people. Luckily the next elections for the EU parliament are coming up soon and guess what, lots of people won’t vote for anyone that is supporting this crap.

David says:


So, any site that enables user-generated content, and is a for profit entity, will "store and give access to a large amount of copyright protected works or other protected subject-matter uploaded by its users which it organizes and promotes for profit-making purposes." That’s called the internet.

Well, let’s not perpetuate that misnomer then. The Internet is what is actually connecting the sites and routing packets between them. Arguably the name server structure and hierarchy can be considered a core part of its function these days as well but it’s not a fully required part.

At any rate, the Internet for example is what carries your Email to the server of your receiver (and no, I am not talking webmail interfaces). The collection of sites providing content in HTML (and related) formats via HTTP/HTTPS ports is referred to as the "World Wide Web". It may be called the Internet, but that’s only what it’s called (apologies to Lewis Carrol, who’d probably have called its name "A-sitting on a gateway").

PaulT (profile) says:

"Not for dating platforms or merchandising or local social platforms."

Did he just say that if the next version of The Pirate Bay is wrapped inside a dating site, then it’s all in the clear? All I have to do to make my site popular is to build in a feature where you can share any content you want with your "matches", and it’s all good?

Cool for them, I suppose. Bad for the other 98.5% of platforms upon whose businesses he hasn’t consider the actual realistic impact of this crap, but nice of him to carve out the specific road where the pirates can go down next.

"if you have a massive platform like YouTube you will have to use a technological solution"

They do…

"If the intention of the platform is to give people access to copyright protected work"

They do… largely with the express permission of the peopler who own the copyright. I know it makes headlines to pretend that, for example, the major labels didn’t shut down their own Vevo streaming service because they made so much more money from YouTube, but you need to base laws on the actual facts.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Did he just say that if the next version of The Pirate Bay is wrapped inside a dating site, then it’s all in the clear?"

I think he did. Mind you, the pirate bay in itself, carrying only magnet links Whose copyrights, if any, belong to the one to generate and upload them), is still completely legal in much of the EU…so article 13 can’t apply. The same holds true for any site only indexing magnet links – or torrent files.

I think we should go with the logical option instead – that Voss either is such an inept clown he keeps babbling about technology and law he does not understand…
…or that he has an inkling yet doesn’t give a single fuck since his intent is maliciously deceptive to begin with.

Jon says:

Re: Re: Re:

If I had enough power here in Australia .I would have had every EU foreign employee here in the federal capitol at that filthy EU red brick Mission on diplomatic row expelled by the close if business today Friday .all gone cancelled finis .then I would have turned that building into a temp home for homeless elderly folks …?

David says:

The problem with listed exceptions is:

"non-profit online encyclopedias, not-for profit educational and scientific repositories, open source software developing and sharing platforms"

It just means that the law is bad. Excepting everything that currently makes the law bad means that the law will be bad for society moving forward since there are no exceptions in place now for future developments where the law will be bad.

Of course, another thing which makes it bad is the "non-profit" thing. Anything of great usefulness will have to grow in size and will need reliable workers and management with an actual paycheck and infrastructure to run on. And the better those are, the thinner the line to profit becomes. It seems absurd to punish that.

That’s the one thing one really needs to credit Richard Stallman for: defining free software via the terminal absence of crucial restrictions on use and redistribution rather than its price tag, leaving it in the hands of the most capable people to distribute competitively rather than "non-commercially".

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: The problem with listed exceptions is:

It just means that the law is bad. Excepting everything that currently makes the law bad means that the law will be bad for society moving forward since there are no exceptions in place now for future developments where the law will be bad.

It doesn’t even do that(to get rid of everything that makes it a bad law you’d have to kill it entirely), all those exceptions do is carve out the really indefensible targets that they realized would be impossible to defend going after, in a vain attempt to make the law look better than it is by setting up multiple standards.

If the purpose of the law was really to prevent infringement/’pay creators what they are owed’ and they honestly didn’t think it would cause collateral damage then there would be no need for the exceptions, because those sites would never need fear the law impacting them. That the exceptions are there is an admission that sites like those ones absolutely would be impacted without the explicit carve-out, either because they are dens of infringement(in which case the question becomes why that infringement gets a pass?), or because the law is such a disaster that even ‘innocent’ sites have good reason to fear it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: The problem with listed exceptions is:

"exempting copyright… from Section 230 "

I’m sure you meant to say something coherent there. Your other examples are, as usual, dumber than you are. Those things are clearly illegal, but you should be going after the people committing the crimes. Driving them underground by making other people pretend they don’t exist won’t stop the original abuse. In fact, it will make it more prevalent as the dumber consumers of such things are forced to use tools not already monitored by authorities.

Anonymous Coward says:

It just occured to me.

I’m pretty sure google/facebook/<insert large internet ‘platform’ here>
All have conditions in their TOS/user agreement/etc that says you grant them a license to use what ever you are uploading for the purposes you are uploading it for (and probably an additional ton of other stuff).
That would of course mean they are already meeting article 13’s requirements to license their content (of course that’s not the real point of article 13).

Really what the people pushing article 13 want is to be able to punish platforms because users of the platforms violated their agreement with the platform (you can’t grant a license to use content you do not have the right to grant a license for… kinda tauntalogical there). If users upload content they don’t have rights for, but on the condition that they do have said rights, obviously the user is violating the agreement.

Furthermore do we have any reason to believe that major recordlables, Hollywood, etc wont ever make the same sort mistakes?

Does that mean if (if article 13 passes) someone from say Hollywood fraudulently or mistakenly uploads content I solely own (and have not licesned out) to say youtube that I can now defacto shutdown youtube (with fines/etc)?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It just occured to me.

The rightsholders already thought of the ‘You Confirm you own the rights’ loophole on uploading content, there is a part of Article 13 that explicitly requires the platform to check the uploader has the rights to upload the content.

Though of course it doesn’t explain how a platform can actually verify this, it just holds them liable if the user was wrong.

For example uploading clips of you playing video games is still a legal grey area, so creators reached out to video game companies asking for permission, but this created extra work for the video game companies who then put up blanket permissions on their websites, but its not clear if a statement on a website would be enough to confirm you are legally entitled to use the content or if you’d need a legal agreement to stop the platform from being sued at some point in the future. So if platforms require you to have a legal agreement it will kill off small creators as they won’t have the contacts to get explicit rather than a blanket permission to use the content.

For someone uploading your content then technically yes you’d be able to go after youtube, which is one of the major problems with Article 13 even if a platform wanted to it’s impossible to license everything because everything is copyrighted (technically both of our posts are copyrighted so if I posted this comment on youtube how are youtube to know it’s my comment and I haven’t just copied it from someone else?).

Though in a practical sense you are unlikely to be included, as the only way the system will really work is to make platforms sign agreements with collection agencies so only ‘Approved Creators’ will be covered (Which is another major problem with this as its the music industry mainly pushing for Article 13 as they want Youtube to handover all the money it makes as in their eyes the only point of youtube is to listen to music for free, so its a simple case of forcing platforms to hand over money to a handful of music companies and if they don’t really care if they have to kill everyone else to do so, and if anything they’d be happy to lock down the internet so they can go back to controlling you can make it as an artist as they are more unhappy about the loss of control to the internet than the money) and at the same time sites will likely have to deploy whitelists/blacklists so only approved content gets uploaded – which likely means if something isn’t in Content ID (and allowed by it) it’ll get blocked and in your case there is a good chance Hollywood would be seen as the owner of your content as they uploaded it first and you’d be blocked from uploading it.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: &quot;think about whether this kind of business

"The fact that someone from Europe is once again threatening the FREE world really pisses me off."

It’s somehow not too surprising. Every time europe has attempted to unify the attempt has generated black marks in the history books and smoking ruins of what used to have beauty and function.

I somehow doubt you could ever have pushed either ACTA or Article 13 past a first review before the EU was a fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

This law effects all websites over 3 years old,
not just video sharing sites.
Lets see who loses if youtube is shutdown ,
millions of creators ,singers ,streamers,composers also record companys .
When you see song x has 500 million views on youtube, it means the singer, composer, record company gets lots of money .
Also music corporation use youtube to see what music is popular ,
the use it to discover new artists ,
its a very useful research tool .
IF a singer gets a million views on youtube they will get offered a deal
by some music company .
I find it very hard to think of any media company that does not use youtube,
for promotion , every new tv show or film has a trailer on youtube
mostly uploaded by the production company .
Would kpop be so popular around the world if there were no korean songs on youtube.
Maybe he should say all blank cd,s ,audi tapes ,vcrs ,mp3 players should be banned because they can be used to copy and play video,s and audio content which may be infringing on ip holders.
But courts said the vcr was legal because it simply records tv programs
for later viewing in the home .
we live in an open free society ,just because something might be used
to display copyrighted content does not mean it should be banned .
Any site that has user content on it will be effected,
i can see dating sites or any site that has photos, images ,art on
it being effected .
Who owns the copyright on photos used for profiles on dating websites ,
the user, the person who took the photo.
it opens up a wide range of targets for trolls who will sue anyone they
can if they see easy money to be made.
This law is made by somone who does not know how the web works
and does not care about user rights or free speech.
Most big music companys upload all their music videos, to youtube
would they do this if their was no money to be made on youtube.
I think the big rise in the popularity of latin music is mostly due to
music videos being viewed on youtube or other video sharing websites .

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You don’t have to insert carriage returns throughout your post. The magic of the intarwebz will automatically word-wrap your sentences and make them readable. Your approach make your posts borderline painful to read.

Instead, add carriage returns between paragraphs. You know what paragraphs are, right? They’re groupings of sentences discussing a single idea and leading into the next paragraph.

There are many resources on the net that will help you better understand structure. Until then, please stop posting.

The More You Know _,.-="^"= #

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

One song made about $5,000 off of 178 million views.

I debunked this last year:

If you don’t feel like clicking, I’ll repeat that you are passing along a very inaccurate story that leaves out nearly all of the important details, like the fact that the song made a hell of a lot more than $5,000:

I’m sorry, but this is bullshit on multiple levels. First off, the story of 178 million streams referred not to YouTube, but Pandora, where the economics are wholly different: id-5679/ As a non-interactive streaming service, Pandora’s rates are set by the Copyright Royalty Board. That’s unrelated to YouTube and other platforms.

Second, that ONLY applies to songwriting royalties, not performance royalties, which are much higher. And because it’s songwriting, not performance royalties, its bullshit for you to claim that it covers "everyone involved in production." That’s… specifically the cut to the songwriters and that’s it.

Third, the writer in that case was a co-writer, and the $5,000 was his cut alone, not the total for both songwriters.

So, yeah, your entire claim is based on a myth.

But, more importantly, if you have 178 million streams of your music, YOU HAVE TONS of other ways to cash in, because you have a massive audience and can use that to your advantage in so many different ways.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s worth noting that Pandora has struggled financially for years. Even with those really low royalties there simply aren’t enough people willing to pay Pandora more for the service they provide, music radio on the net, nor are the advertisers willing to pay more to reach those millions. It would seem that Pandora has found the precise balance between supply and demand for music. The artists are getting paid what the market has determined is the worth of their product.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"YouTube will not be shut down. Its paid creators wouldn’t risk many copyright strikes."

Actually, you’d be wrong. Youtube’s "paid creators" have to spend several hours per day disputing false takedown notices generated by copyright trolls – as is.

With article 13 those creators won’t be able to upload anything to start with, given that the bar will be MUCH higher.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Every online forum, from Usenet to Techdirt, to Reddit, every...

Wow. That definition of ‘online content sharing service provider’ would seem to encompass every site that allows user comments.

Because user comments are "copyright protected works or other protected subject-matter uploaded by its users which it organises and promotes for profit-making purposes".

So this would shut down virtually all existing online speech. Every forum, every discussion site, every news provider that allows comments. Including this one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Every online forum, from Usenet to Techdirt, to

Hopefully the damage to the EU as a result of this terrible legislation will be recognized and cause yet another reversal before that can happen. The economic devastation that will result from all of this is certain to cause it to be repealed.

FlatZOut (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Every online forum, from Usenet to Techdirt, to Redd

“European law doesn’t force anyone outside of European jurisdiction to do anything”

except it does.

It would set a bad precedent and cause other countries to do the same thing (screwing millions of people over just because a bunch of big media companies are big cry babies because they want to be greedy) and thus we end up in a bad time.

Devonavar (profile) says:

Here's a compromise I could live with

If Axel Voss really thinks Article 13 is only intended to affect a small number of sites because only "commercial" works get copyright, let’s compromise.

The price of Article 13 is another clause that states that copyright exists by registration only. No more copyright on creation — it’s strictly a commercial right that you have to register and pay for.

That would reflect the way he thinks things work already, and it would solve nearly all of the unintended consequences. Real user-generated content is not ever going to be registered, and would be considered copyright-free. Thus, 98.5% of websites would indeed not fall under Article 13 (including, notably, YouTube).

Publishers get a tool for going after pirate sites that distribute their registered commercial work. Everyone else gets left alone. As a bonus, going back to a registration-only system would solve a huge host of other copyright related problems that arise from automatic copyright.

Rekrul says:

I still say all the big web sites should just shut down and replace their pages with the contact information for these idiots and a message saying "If you want this site to come back, contact the legislators and tell them to scrap articles 11 & 13)." See how long they hold up after the fury of the world’s internet users is turned on them.

morganwick (profile) says:

Oh, Voss perfectly understands copyright law, or at least what his masters want it to be. Basically everything published by big corporations with the money to bully everyone else is covered under copyright. Everything else is probably using images or concepts or words that appear in an actually copyrighted work and needs to be sued out of existence so that the major publishers can reclaim their rightful place as the only locuses of human creativity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

so that the major publishers can reclaim their rightful place as the only locuses of human creativity.

They have never been a locus of creativity, only a locus for deciding who gets published and who has wasted their time creating something. Therefore they have been a locus of wasted effort, by denying most of what is submitted to them an audience.

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