back to article EU creative collection agencies want YouTube et al to pay their wages

Collecting agencies for audio-visual creators on Monday urged the European Commission to protect their income in the planned new copyright law and to make online platforms (among others) pay for it. The Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA), the association of European collective management organisations, called on digi …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    It depends on the type of media. Concerning print media...

    This "unwaivable right" has been tried in Spain and it's a clusterfuck. Google News has pulled out. Bing has carried on but I think that's due to their misinterpretation of the law which only starts to charge in a few months from now, but retroactively since the beginning of the year. Both have bandwidth bills to provide the service, neither have adverts, and both drive traffic to the newspaper sites. There was absolutely no way that newspaper sites were losing, indeed they were gaining from the previous arrangement. Meanwhile there's still confusion over if blogs, bookmark sites, Twitter, Facebook, etc... also have to follow this law or not.

    In Germany where fees could be waived, Google said they would not pay to drive traffic to newspaper sites. Traffic plummeted during the period that Google did not link to newspaper sites that insisted on collecting fees and rose again when those sites waved their fees and Google linked to them once more.

    If they do the same at European level in all probability Google's response will be the same, stop linking to snippets of text on newspaper sites.

    As for music, TV, and film, unwaivable rights are often used by rights organisations as a way of charging for content that the original authors wanted to make freely available yet as the author is not a member of the rights organisation then the rights organisation just pockets the money.

    There is a place for charging for music, TV, and film on YouTube but there also has to be a place for not charging for it if the author doesn't want to charge for it, for a direct relationship between YouTube and the author (advertising split) without the rights organisation getting in the way, and there also has to be a place for "fair use" snippets music and video.

    In the end it's all about how the author wants to be remunerated (if at all) and rights organisations need to compete to have the author as their member, not just get fat expecting YouTube et all to provide them with a cheque every month.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @dan 55

      Last week you were arguing Google should be unregulated, and be able to do what it wants.

      Just sayin'

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: @dan 55

        The first two pages of my posting history don't show what you think they show, Mr/Ms Anonymous.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      This is different from the snippets, which was a totally stupid diversion from the real problems.

      Some sites have wholesale copies of articles, which they "stole" and often don't even credit the original authors.

      But we are talking about audio / visual here. Things like YouTube hosting complete tunes / pop videos, TV shows and films and don't pay the authors any compensation. Often new copies are being put up quicker than the copyright holders can get them taken down.

      If Google and co. vetted the content and ensured only personal-copyright material could be uploaded by private accounts (i.e. stuff they had filmed themselves, no background music from commercial bands etc.) and that the copyright owners could upload their content and earn from the views. But there are hundreds or thousands of illegitimate copies of many songs and videos up there and YT doesn't care, as long as they get their cut of the advertising and the copyright holders don't make too much fuss.

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        If Google and co. vetted the content and ensured only personal-copyright material could be uploaded by private accounts (i.e. stuff they had filmed themselves, no background music from commercial bands etc.) and that the copyright owners could upload their content and earn from the views.

        I think there are several points to be made here, but I will address the one I find most ridiculous first.

        Why the hell should a private individual not be able to post a video backed by a piece of music? I know several people who, recently, have posted videos to a closed Facebook group with commercial music in the background, and had it pulled. In my view, this is no different to burning the video to disc, with the backing track, and distributing it to your friends. It's not as though it'd going to get a billion views and damage the musicians bottom line. It has been taken way too far. As far as I'm concerned, using a track as backing for a personal video is fair use, even if it's the whole track. What's next, banning videos from concerts, or banning videos of a kids birthday part just because it happened to have a commercial track playing in the background at the venue? Banning wedding videos?

        In addition to this, asking the hosting companies to vet every single upload... Are you living in cloud cuckoo land?! Have you any idea how much this would cost? Do you really think companies would allow us to host things for free if they had to examine all content to ensure it was legit?

        I'm all for protecting content creator's rights, but there must be some balance and common sense.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Why the hell should a private individual not be able to post a video backed by a piece of music?

          Unless you have a release from the copyright holder, you cannot use their music in your videos. That is why a huge number of videos in Germany are actually blocked by YouTube, because they have recognised that the music is copyrighted and they haven't received a waiver from GEMA for that video.

          In my view, this is no different to burning the video to disc, with the backing track, and distributing it to your friends.

          Depending on where you are, you have paid for that CD or DVD and part of the price is a sop to the RIAA/MPAA/GEMA/PRS so that you can do that. You also have a much more limited audience with a single DVD. For personal use, it is fine, posting it online for everyone to see is usually breaking copyright.

          For example, here in Germany, you pay your sop to GEMA in the price of the CD / DVD and you can make your own copies. You can also give copes as presents to friends. You can make a "reasonable" number of copies to give away - when pressed, a government minister said "about 10" was reasonable.

          But you can share songs online, because you cannot guarantee that less than 10 people will see them, if you post on something like YouTube.

          It is the same for telephone systems, we have background music on our system when you are in the queue. We bought that music "GEMA" free - i.e. there are no royalties to collect, we paid a one-time fee to get the rights to use the music for our telephone system.

          In addition to this, asking the hosting companies to vet every single upload... Are you living in cloud cuckoo land?!

          No I am not, and I do see it as not really being practicable. I was pointing it out as a way in which such services could, theoretically, avoid this headache.

          1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

            Unless you have a release from the copyright holder, you cannot use their music in your videos.

            I understand that this is the current, legal position. However, I suspect that the vast majority of these videos from private individuals would be viewed by no more people than a DVD produced by them. It would not hurt the artist for it to be allowed. This is even more the case in many Facebook examples I have seen, where the video is shared with a small group of friends. Even if it became hugely popular, it STILL would not hurt them, as they would likely gain more exposure and see a rise in sales.

            The background music is not the main product. It is merely something to add in the background to the home video.

            As for companies avoiding "this headache", it is (IMHO) unworkable. It would also lead to mission creep: All content posted on any public forum would require pre-moderation to ensure it was legal. This would lead to the closure of many public forums due to excessive administrative overheads, and a lot of content being blocked just because it might, possibly, be considered outside the law by someone, and it's easier to block it than fight.

    3. moiety

      @Dan 55 - Not the first clusterfuck in Spain. There's a tax on all blank media which was supposed to go straight to copyright agencies; in return for which it became legal to download films/music for personal use.

      Despite the fact that music/film copyright infringement technically no longer exists in Spain, the collection agencies haven't stopped bitching about how piracy is rampant.

  2. Paul Dx
    WTF?

    Organised crime is in the wrong business

    "Under its proposals, authors would be banned from accepting a one-time fee in contracts with producers ..."

    What gives these people the right to tell authors that they have to sign up to their system.

    If I wrote a book it's up to ME to decide whether to take a one-off payment or an annual dripfeed (less the collection agency expenses).

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Organised crime is in the wrong business

      On one hand it does definitely feel self-serving from these societies to try to make it illegal to not use their services. Especially so considering they give back so little of the money they collect supposedly on the behalf of authors. At this point, they feel very much like a middleman that should be bypassed and made redundant as soon as possible.

      On the other hand, there is something to be said for protecting people from exploitative conditions. This is why minimum wage laws exist.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        Re: Organised crime is in the wrong business @Ratfox

        "On the other hand, there is something to be said for protecting people from exploitative conditions."

        You mean like a European law saying that you have no choice, you have to use Agency XXX or YYY (who are in a cartel) to sell your product (even if I don't want to sell it, but give it away free!).

        As an aside, would this also mean that free apps that include something "creative" would suddenly become illegal?

        1. Dan Paul

          Re: Organised crime is in the wrong business @Ratfox

          This is exactly the same issue that the "freetards" all cry about but instead of the MPAA being the crooks, it's the SAA.

      2. Hollerith 1

        Re: Organised crime is in the wrong business

        Having worked for one of these collection agencies once, I was paid so little (we all were) to keep the overheads down so that as much money as possible could be paid to our members. Some recipients would have been eating dogfood were it not for our quarterly payments to them. That particular agency had a period where the 'directors' were throwing moneya round, but their chain was soon yanked and everyone was back down to piddlingly small wages. A lot of did the work because we felt it was work worth doing. We liked the idea of creators getting continual reward for works that were still being used.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Organised crime is in the wrong business

      Why is a collection agency needed?

      YouTube could easily set up a system of paying authors automatically when their video is watched - or adding adverts around it and paying a share of the advertising revenue. Oh, they already do.

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: Organised crime is in the wrong business

        Why is a collection agency needed?

        YouTube could easily set up a system of paying authors automatically when their video is watched - or adding adverts around it and paying a share of the advertising revenue. Oh, they already do.

        It isn't automatic - you have to approach Youtube, agree terms, supply bank account details etc. After which you have an agreement with Youtube. You have to then do the same thing with Dailymotion. Then with Vimeo. Then with 1,001 sites that you've never heard of, many of which are foreign and don't deal in English. Even if collectively those amount to a decent revenue stream individually they may literally amount to beer money over the course of a year. That means your negotiating position with each individual site is weakened. This is precisely why Youtube are able to throw their weight around with take it or leave it offers - take this money for your work, or receive nothing. Oh, and your work will still be on our site anyway...

        No one wants to spend hours negotiating a contract that is worth the price of a pint a year. No one wants to pay for translation and legal advice on such a contract. No one wants the hassle of reviewing a thousand such contracts for quirks that subtly affect the tax treatment of each one. No one wants to hand over their bank account details to a thousand unfamiliar foreign websites. This is precisely where collective bargaining arrangements come in, which do serve both sides of the deal - the content creator has a single sizeable revenue stream that it is worth considering properly and the content buyer has an entity that they may meaningfully negotiate with.

        I am not advocating compulsion to use this arrangements, but arguing that such arrangements have no value at all is straightforward ignorance of reality. If in your desire to stick it to the man you want to spend £10,000 on lawyers and accountants for £1,000 of revenue that is of course your right. People who are trying to make a living are likely to take a different view.

      2. Frank Bitterlich

        Re: Organised crime is in the wrong business

        That is exactly what the collection agencies are asking themselves these days; they slowly become aware that they are not the only way any more for an author to earn money with their works. So, in order to protect their income and power, they lobby the MEPs to create a law that effectively disowns the artists by forcing them to sell their works exclusively through them.

        And it looks like they'll win; after all, they're "protecting" the artists from "exploitation". That's so somple that every MEP and even "H-Dot" will understand that.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've fixed that for ya'

    “Our greatest desire is that our works are watched by as many (PAYING) people as possible"

  4. TeeCee Gold badge
    Mushroom

    no pan-Europe licensing or the Americans will take over

    U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!

    'Cos somebody needs to open that can of worms and tip out the contents and if this bunch of pillocks won't......

    Proof, as if it were required, that the EU regards the original Treaty of Rome as something of an inconvenience these days: 'Free movement of goods and services' remember?

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