YouTube Attacked For ‘Fact-Free Fear Mongering’ As Internet Faces Shakeup

The battle over the shape of the internet worldwide has taken another twist as the U.S. holiday weekend starts. Record-industry groups are today warning that YouTube is spreading “fact-free fear mongering.” Many musicians such as Paul McCartney, Adele, Annie Lennox, Jean Michel Jarre and Nikki Sixx of SIXX:A.M. have also called for action against the Web giants.

Google GOOGL +1.17% and its YouTube business, along with Facebook FB +1.72%, Wikipedia and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, oppose draft changes to copyright law in the 28-country European Union, which may well force changes in other countries such as the U.S.

The plan would open YouTube “up to unmitigated liability and such a large financial risk that we would be forced to block huge amounts of video,” YouTube’s Global Head of Music Lyor Cohen said in an op/ed published by the U.K.’s Music Business Worldwide on November 20. He said the plan, which may be signed into law by the end of this year, would mean “less money for artists and songwriters” as well as less music for fans.

YouTube’s campaign “shows a lack of respect for the EU democratic process of law making,” according to a joint music industry statement released by Impala, the European association of independent music companies, along with four other composer, author and songwriter groups.

The organizations said that the changes have been under discussion for more than four years. The European Commission, Council and Parliament all agreed: “There is a value gap, also referred to as a transfer of value, where user upload services are making vast sums of money on creators’ content uploaded by their users, but not paying the right holders who own that content fairly. To correct that situation, platforms like YouTube should have to take responsibility for the content they use and monetise, by fairly remunerating their creators and right holders.