×

European Music Societies Slam YouTube’s ‘Fact Free Fear-Mongering’

YouTube has long been considered by many to be the big bad wolf of the music industry, largely because of the comparatively low royalties it pays on music streamed on its free platform, and because of the “safe harbor” laws that exempt it from policing unlicensed music on its site.

In its annual and mid-year reports, the global music industry collective International Federation of the Phonographic Industry calls the resulting “value gap” the single greatest threat to the health of the business. Article 13 of the European copyright directive, now under consideration by the European Parliament, would change many of those provisions, and YouTube and its parent company Google/Alphabet have mobilized substantial forces to oppose it.

Following a blog post by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki that stated the company paid significantly more in royalties to the music industry than calculations by the IFPI and other organizations — and also made the debatable claim that many songs with incomplete copyright information would be blocked from YouTube — on Tuesday YouTube Music chief Lyor Cohen (pictured above) posted an op-ed in Music Business Worldwide that doubled down on those claims, and also challenged record labels to reveal how YouTube’s royalties are distributed to artists (possibly implying that the labels are pocketing an undue share).

While several executives responded to the op-ed in Variety Tuesday, on Wednesday afternoon five major European music-industry trade organizations — the IFPI as well as ECSA (the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance), GESAC (comprised of authors’ societies from across the European Union, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland), ICMP (a global music-publishing trade organization) and IMPALA (the European association of independent music companies) — fired off a strongly worded collective response titled “YouTube’s Fact Free Fear-Mongering,” which follows in full; details on Cohen and Wojcicki’s posts can be found here.

“YouTube’s campaign against Article 13 of the Copyright Directive shows a lack of respect for the EU democratic process of law making,” it reads. “The revisions to the Directive have been under discussion for over four years already and the three main institutions of the European Union have all given their position. The Commission, Council and Parliament have all reached the same conclusion, that there is a value gap, also referred to as a transfer of value, where user upload services are making vast sums of money on creators’ content uploaded by their users, but not paying the right holders who own that content fairly. The result is a serious distortion in the European digital market place which harms right holders, other digital services and citizens. To correct that situation, platforms like YouTube should have to take responsibility for the content they use and monetize, by fairly remunerating their creators and right holders.

“YouTube constantly refers menacingly to ‘unintended consequences’ if the Directive is adopted, and threatens to block content, instead of showing willingness to observe laws and fairly remunerate. In fact, the Directive will bring fairness. Fairness for all platforms by creating a level playing field where everyone is playing by the same rules and fairness for right holders who will be properly rewarded for their creative content. It’s in our interests to boost online creativity, not restrict it.

“Even though the clarifications proposed by the EU institutions may not be to YouTube’s liking, they will contribute to sustainable and balanced growth of the European digital markets ultimately to the benefit of all stakeholders in the digital value chain including citizens. Many thousands of international artists, authors, publishers, labels, managers, songwriters have urged the EU to find a solution to the value gap. YouTube’s eleventh-hour campaign of fact-free fear-mongering should be seen for what it is: an attempt to derail the EU democratic legislative process.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • WWE NXT

    WWE's 'NXT' Moves to USA Network as Wrestling Competition Heats Up

    WWE has struck a deal to move its “NXT” franchise focusing on rising stars to USA Network starting next month. “NXT” will shift to USA from the WWE Network subscription streaming service as of Sept. 18. The deal comes as USA is about to lose WWE’s “SmackDown” showcase to Fox starting in October. USA is [...]

  • Shazam

    Apple Music Launches 'Shazam Discovery' Chart, Focused on New Artists

    Apple Music today launched the “Shazam Discovery Top 50,” a weekly, global ranking of 50 artists that it describes as “on the move and trending” — in other words, new and emerging artists. While the company wouldn’t say much specifically about how the chart is tabulated, it uses “Shazam’s proprietary algorithms [to offer] a unique predictive view [...]

  • The Chainsmokers Production Company

    Chainsmokers’ Catalog Acquired by Fast-Growing Hipgnosis Songs

    The Chainsmokers’ writer and publishing rights have been acquired by the fast-growing Hipgnosis Songs and its investment adviser, The Family (Music) Limited, for an undisclosed amount, the company announced today. The company has acquired 100% of the Chainsmokers’ interest in 32 of the duo’s songs, including ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) income in [...]

  • Hollywood Recession Business Placeholder

    How an Economic Downturn Could Ravage Hollywood

    Trade-war fears, stock market volatility and, most recently, bond market signals that point to a pending recession are rattling investors, igniting concerns that another devastating downturn may be just around the corner. As those worries reverberate all the way from Wall Street to Hollywood, the entertainment industry is in for an unsettling reminder of the [...]

  • RuPaul Charles - Outstanding Reality -

    RuPaul Charles to Receive Variety's Vanguard Award at Mipcom

    “RuPaul’s Drag Race” leader RuPaul Charles has been tapped to receive the Variety Vanguard Award at the Mipcom international TV sales conference, set for Oct. 14-17 in Cannes. The award recognizes television industry leaders who have made a significant contribution to the global business of entertainment. Charles has hosted and executive produced the VH1 franchise “RuPaul’s Drag [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    Chinese Streamer iQIYI Squeezed by Changing Content Context

    Chinese video streaming giant iQIYI saw its losses deepen, in the April to June second quarter of its financial year. The company grew subscriptions, but was hit by rising content costs and lower advertising revenue Its parent company, Chinese search leader, Baidu saw its year on year profits drop, though it recovered from loss in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content