By Philip Matesanz
Several generations grew up with the possibilities of using cassette – or TV-recording devices. They were allowed to generate copies of certain media legally for private use. Their rights weren’t just limited to a public broadcast but also to literature and other things, you are allowed to visit a public library get a book and make a copy of the most important pages for your private use, respecting the copyrights regulations in each country.
Luckily most these rights have been adapted to the digital counterparts in the internet. You are still allowed to record a radio broadcast even if it comes through your modem and not your antenna anymore. You are also still allowed to make a copy of online literature. Big owners and creators of text based content have understood that the public have certain rights and accept those rights; one example might be the BBC itself: All articles have a "print-this" button allowing everyone to create their own copy of an article by printing it or saving it as a PDF file on their computers. I don’t think that the BBC would ever call someone who is making use of this functionality a criminal or a threat to their business like Google.
Google wants to replace TV and Radio with their Online-Broadcasting service YouTube and is pretty successful so far. They haven’t any competition globally and even in the UK they dominate the market as the largest service leaving VEVO behind on the second place (1904% more reach) and the BBC on the third (3369% more reach). In spite of having such a significant presence, the company is unwilling to engage in any discussion about giving the users the same rights they have with technologies like TV and Radio – creating private copies. They argue that content creators would be harmed by a private copy and that recording tools are a threat to the content industry itself.
In 2006 YouTube took the first time ever legal action against a recording tool. Right after that they were acquired by Google and they obviously tolerated such technology. Until today there has never been an artist publicly complaining about such technology and I as a service provider haven’t received any complaints as well. It was no secret that such technology exists and artists still made their work available on YouTube. The users also want to exercise their right of a private copy: I would estimate very conservatively that there are more than 200 million people worldwide who make use of YouTube recording tools each month. Even the argument that the content industry would cease to exist because of such technology has been proven wrong multiple times in the past. You might remember the propaganda campaign ‘home recording is killing music’. Even though it was unsuccessful the music industry has survived and found new strengths.
Recently, an UK YouTube-Star publicly stated his support for YouTube recording tools and signed my petition. Alex Day is one of the most successful YouTube partners in the UK with more than 520.000 subscribers and nearly 90 million video views. He is also the first independent artist ever that made it to the UK TOP 10 charts. Alex clearly rejects the arguments Google is bringing to the table and has the opinion that recording tools would not harm any YouTube partners. Alex said in a blog post on Huffington Post that he would use my service himself on his own videos and doesn’t condemn any user who does the same. He thinks the user should decide on his own if he wants to pay for music or not. Simply destroying all free alternatives wouldn’t turn a user unwilling to pay into a paying customer.
It is questionable who Google wants to please with this action. The content creators never had a problem so far with people creating a private copy of their work and continued to offer their property on YouTube. The users want to continue exercising their rights and at least the German Department of Justice has publicly confirmed that right. It looks like everything is the result of a favour towards lobbyists that managed to impress Google.
The petition is available on the link: http://change.org/FreedomonYoutube
Huffington-Post Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-varrati/independent-musician-join_b_1699475.html
Alex Day – YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/nerimon
Alex Day – Twitter: https://twitter.com/thatalexday