Google Attacks EU Plans to Make It YouTube Copyright Cop

  • Copyright plan may curb online use of news articles, content
  • Google says proposal might force it to filter Web uploads

Google Attacks EU Copyright Plans

Google attacked a European Union overhaul designed to ensure copyright owners get a fairer share of income, saying the measures would force it to vet text, video and images before they can be shared on its YouTube service.

"This would effectively turn the internet into a place where everything uploaded to the web must be cleared by lawyers before it can find an audience," the search-engine giant said in a blog post after the European Commission unveiled draft rules that would also allow newspapers to demand payment when services such as Google News run their articles.

Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., is already fighting three EU antitrust probes into search, phone software and advertising. If Wednesday’s proposals become law, the company may have a weaker hand when dealing with copyright holders, boosted by more powers to withdraw content or demand compensation.

EU regulators said they want to protect publishers and creators when their work is made available on the internet, often without remuneration.

‘Fair Sharing’

“This proposal provides for a new right for press publishers aiming at facilitating online licensing of their publications, the recoupment of their investment and the enforcement of their rights,” the European Commission said in a text of the proposal published on its website. "Fair sharing of value is also necessary to ensure the sustainability of the press publications sector."

European publishers have been battling Google for years as advertising and consumers increasingly move online. Music and video copyright owners also complain that Google is free-riding by making profits from advertising shown next to most content. Google News doesn’t show ads.

Video-upload sites that rely on users to post content will now have to take "appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure protection" of copyrighted works, the EU said, citing content-recognition technologies. Online sites should inform copyright holders how well such tools are working and provide ways for them to complain and seek compensation, the commission said.


Google uses software known as ContentID to verify whether videos on YouTube infringe copyright and says it has paid out $2 billion to rights holders since 2007.

Wider use of software targeting of unauthorized content may affect consumers who share a video clip using part of a song on YouTube or Facebook, according to BEUC, a European consumer advocate group.

Google said it was "disappointed" by the new right for press publishers, saying it "looks similar to failed laws in Germany and Spain" and "would hurt anyone who writes, reads or shares the news."

Google shut its news portal in Spain in 2014 after copyright legislation allowed publishers charge for content used by other websites. Paying to display snippets of news "is not a viable option for anyone," the company said in the Wednesday blog post.

News publishers said readers would "only benefit from further investment in quality journalism" which they’ll continue to find on many platforms. They will encourage readers to link and share stories, said the European Publishers Council, which represents Axel Springer SE and Hubert Burda Media Holding.

Musicians’ Rights

The EU is also aiming to give musicians more strength in negotiations with publishers, which might allow composers to get extra payments from an unexpected bestseller. Authors and performers often transfer their rights against an up-front payment. The EU is suggesting they should be able to see how much their work generates and should be able to renegotiate if they think the deal was unfair.

The EU wants to enable content to be sold more widely across Europe with provisions that would ease negotiations for broadcast or on-demand video rights. The proposal also creates an exception to copyright for researchers who want to mine large amounts of data and teachers who want to use more digital content in classes.

While the draft needs the approval of governments and the EU parliament to take effect, judges at the EU’s top court have already weighed in to boost the rights of publishers versus websites.

Playboy’s Dutch publisher can stop a news and entertainment website from posting links to its images without permission, according to a far-reaching ruling last week.

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