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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki is warning that the European Union's recent copyright legislation is putting digital creators' livelihoods at stake — and she issued a call for YouTubers to voice their opposition to the proposed rules.
The E.U. Parliament's "Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people — from creators like you to everyday users — to upload content to platforms like YouTube," Wojcicki wrote in a blog post Monday that is the latest in a series of her regular updates to the YouTube community.
In September, the European Parliament passed a wide-ranging digital copyright directive, which among other things affects copyright fees for music streamers and user-generated content platforms such as YouTube. The directive sets parameters for negotiations between the parliament, the European Commission and national governments. If and when the law is finally passed, E.U. member states will have two years to implement the new rules.
Wojcicki urged YouTubers to use the hashtag "#SaveYourInternet" in social-media posts to express opposition to the E.U. directive and explain "why the creator economy is important and how this legislation will impact you." YouTube has set up a website, at youtube.com/yt/saveyourinternet, with its perspective on the law.
YouTube's new campaign against the E.U.'s copyright reforms recalls the 2012 efforts sponsored by Google and other internet giants to oppose the U.S.'s proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) law. After widespread online protests, the proposed legislation — favored by Hollywood studios and other content owners — stalled out.
In her blog post, Wojcicki claimed that the legislation "threatens to block users in the E.U. from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere," including educational content such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to videos.
The E.U. law could force platforms like YouTube "to allow only content from a small number of large companies," according to Wojcicki.
"It would be too risky for platforms to host content from smaller original content creators, because the platforms would now be directly liable for that content," the YouTube CEO wrote. She cited YouTube's Content ID copyright-detection and payment system that's designed to flag copyrighted material and compensate rights holders.
"We are committed to working with the industry to find a better way. This language could be finalized by the end of year, so it's important to speak up now," Wojcicki said in the blog post.