If you watch YouTube videos without a YouTube Premium subscription, you’re familiar with the tiny pop-ups that appear in the bottom left-hand corner of the stream that prompt users to sign up for YouTube’s ad-free service.
It seems that YouTube has replaced that pop-up with a new message that warns users about the European Union’s proposed copyright directive. It also offers an explainer on one particular act known as Article 13. The pop-up brings YouTube viewers to the company’s standalone website detailing the possible effect of Article 13, which puts the onus on YouTube to prevent copyrighted material from appearing on the platform. YouTube executives like CEO Susan Wojcicki and head of business Robert Kyncl have penned exhaustive blog posts and guest columns in publications that warn that the company cannot financially take on the burden, and extreme measures will have to be taken like preventing users from uploading videos at all.
Multiple YouTube users in Europe noted coming across the pop-up while watching certain videos. Many viewers praised the company for its attempt to communicate with users about the copyright directive, which will see a final vote in January 2019.
kudos to youtube for having that small pop up about article 13 on the app, it’s a topic that isn’t as widespread as it really should be
— megan lynne | 10.10.18 (@meganlynnes) November 20, 2018
YouTube’s communications team has spent weeks aggressively tweeting from its main channel and its subsequent YouTube Creators account in an attempt to raise awareness about the copyright directive. A Q&A last week with creators and users on Twitter led the company to admit that if the copyright directive passes, some European channels will be blocked from playing in the United States. Certain users could also be prevented from uploading videos at all.
Take someone like PewDiePie, YouTube’s biggest creator with more than 70 million subscribers. His entire channel relies on uploading and responding to user-generated content and incorporating in copyrighted work. Under the Fair Use Act, PewDiePie is fine because his videos provide additional commentary and are transformative enough to be considered original. Currently, if a copyright holder files a complaint against PewDiePie, YouTube can remove the video or demonetize it. Under the EU’s proposal, the company says the financial burden placed on the platform to ensure that copyright content isn’t uploaded at all is too big, and the easiest way to prevent it would be to stop videos from being uploaded in the first place.
This means PewDiePie may not be able to upload videos at all. Alternatively, the number of people who have access to his videos could drop dramatically.
Multiple creators have spoken out in recent weeks about the EU’s proposed copyright directive, including PewDiePie, meme creators like Grandayy, and, most recently, KSI.