YouTube's new terms of service shows direction of travel towards global content crackdown

July 23, 2019

NEWS FROM OPEN KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION

EMBARGO: IMMEDIATE

YOUTUBE’S NEW TERMS OF SERVICE SHOWS DIRECTION OF TRAVEL TOWARDS GLOBAL CONTENT CRACKDOWN

YouTube has published new terms of service for all European users, sparking fresh fears about how the forthcoming EU copyright crackdown will be implemented.

The copyright directive is expected to lead to the introduction of blunt ‘filtering’ software on sites, which will automatically remove potentially copyrighted content, and is opposed by millions of people across the EU.

Separately, YouTube yesterday introduced new terms for users in the European Economic Area and Switzerland, which increase the power of the video sharing platform to remove access to users who cause harm to its reputation. These are now expected to become the baseline for most YouTube users across the globe, rather than a complex process of running sites with different rules in different countries.

But while these particular new terms may be welcome, it is expected that the same universal principle will apply with the forthcoming copyright crackdown.

That risks curtailing freedom of expression across the world, including in the UK regardless of whether Brexit happens and in other non-EU countries.

While entertainment footage is most likely to be affected, academics fear it could also restrict the sharing of knowledge, and critics argue it will have a negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online.

Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said: “YouTube’s decision to implement the same terms of service across Europe shows the way we are heading – international companies adopting a baseline that operates across borders.

“If the EU’s controversial copyright crackdown is implemented in the same way, it could change the web as we know it for people across the globe.

“Restricting freedom of speech and expression online will risk the creation of a more closed society at the very time we should be using digital advances to build a fair, free and open future.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

Details on YouTube terms of service: https://ffwd.medium.com/regulation-is-coming-to-youtube-and-its-going-to-be-ugly-ac385d340cd9

Background on the copyright crackdown: https://okfn.org/about/press/releases/eu-council-votes-back-controversial-copyright-crackdown/