Alphabet Inc, which owns Google and YouTube among other internet properties, has been in the crosshairs of the regulatory authorities in the European Union (EU) for quite a while and earlier this year, the company had to pay the EU billions in fines for abusing its position as a dominant player. However, a new threat is now slowly emerging on the horizon for YouTube, the company’s dominant video platform that has become the byword for online video content and has also become a huge cause of concern for video developers, who operate their independent channels on the platform. According to the provision of a new law in the EU, the platform will now be responsible for any copyright infringement by video creators on its platform, and that could mean that YouTube might have to completely change the way it operates.
The laws in relation to copyright infringement, as they stand to state that a video hosting platform like YouTube is not in any way liable for videos that are uploaded by users. However, if the video content is reported for copyright infringements, then they need to take down the video after a review and for years; this has worked well for YouTube. That being said, that law is about to change, and the liability for copyright infringement will fall squarely on platforms like YouTube. The new ground rules will make platforms liable if copyrighted materials are shared on the platform and the only way a video sharing platform can be let off is by proving that they took measures to get permission for hosting the content on their platform.
The problem posed to the company due to this law is profound. First of all, the vetting process for a video could take up considerable time and secondly, it could significantly slow down the time it takes a user to upload videos. However, at the same time, it is also true that copyright infringement has been ongoing trouble for YouTube for many years and although the company has taken measures to combat, it is still quite rampant. The law could go into effect in two years if all the EU member states agree with the provisions. However, it has also been argued that with such a regulation, smaller video platforms could be in a disadvantage since they would not have the resources of large firms like YouTube when it comes to tackling this issue.