The EU Just Handed Youtube a Monopoly on Video Publishing

Youtube on phone

If you've not been following, Article 13 is the deeply controversial legislation that will radically change how copyright law is upheld across the Internet. On Tuesday the European Parliament voted in favour of the law, whose aim is to ensure a copyright holder's content isn't published online without their consent. Importantly, it will put the burden of responsibility on the publisher, rather than the copyright holder issuing strikes, to ensure copyright law is upheld on their platform.

Since Article 13 was tabled in June 2018, the internet has been in uproar – mostly because it was terrified an unforeseen victim of the law would be memes (for the record – memes aren't in danger, as there's an exception in the article for humorous content). It hasn't been helped by the image of MEPs as dinosaurs who can't even press the right button when voting on the Article, let alone understand the complexities of how the law will alter the internet for generations. 

Should the law pass, it will force publishers Youtube, Vimeo and Facebook, to filter content as it's uploaded to ensure it doesn't contain copyrighted material. One of the keenest voices against the proposal is Youtube, which is curious, as it's the only publishing platform that stands to benefit from the law being passed. Why? Because Alphabet, Youtube's parent company, has spent over $100m developing its 'Content ID' algorithm to filter content like this, through its subsidiary Google. 

Once Article 13 comes into force, content publishers like Vimeo, Reddit and Facebook are going to be faced with a choice. Either, they develop their own copyright detection algorithm, or they knock on Google's door, and ask if they can purchase theirs. Of course, given that the algorithm represents the keys to content publication, I can't imagine Google selling it as a service cheaply. They'll want to make a profit on their investment in R&D, understandably so.

Why does it matter, doesn't Youtube already have a monopoly on video distribution online? It matters because this law ensures Youtube cannot be contested. If you were concerned about Google's fingers tightening around your data before, and you enjoy watching video content online, the EU has just ensured Google won't face competition for generations to come. 

And if I were Vimeo right now, I'd be extremely worried.