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YouTube has come under attack from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and indie label trade group IMPALA over two claims it’s made.

YouTube parent Google issued a report How Google Fights Piracy in which it claims that YouTube paid $1.8 billion to the music industry in the past year – and over $6 billion over the years. About half of this reportedly was from the monetized use of music in videos using Content ID.

But IFPI chief executive Frances Moore challenges the figure, saying it doesn’t tally with its own research and “It is difficult to get any clarity on Google’s claims as it doesn’t explain its methodology.”

IFPI’s own figures say that video streaming services in total have 1.3 billion users and generated $856 million in 2017 – half of what Google claims.

Moore added, “By contrast, a much smaller user base of 272 million users of audio subscription services (both paid and ad-supported), which don’t misapply the ‘safe harbour,’ compensated creators some US $5.6 billion.”

YouTube has defended itself, with a statement, “We stand by the numbers in our report.

“IFPI has a limited view of payments that we make across the industry, including to collecting societies, and our direct advertising deals with music partners.”

According to the IFPI’s 2018 Music Consumer Insight Report 35% of music streamers don’t feel the need to subscribe to an audio streaming service because everything they want to listen to is on YouTube.

Various YouTube executives have also been since September sounding alarm bells that the Europe Union’s new Copyright Directive’s Article 13 – which states that user-generated upload platforms as YouTube must install automatic content recognition systems that will stop copyright infringement material – would affect creative freedoms of “millions of users”, especially those on the grassroots level.

The latest claim was by CEO Susan Wojcicki who in an op-ed in the Financial Times insisted that Section 13 “threatened” the livelihood of musicians and songwriters.

Wojcicki wrote: “The [European] parliament’s approach is unrealistic in many cases because copyright owners often disagree over who owns what rights.

“ If the owners cannot agree, it is impossible to expect the open platforms that host this content to make the correct rights decisions.”

Wojcicki says that the massive hit “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee would have been blocked by that criteria because some of the song’s owners are unknown.

IMPALA’s executive chair Helen Smith has responded in her own op-ed in Financial Times that Article 13 effectively closed the “value gap” where platforms as YouTube made millions of dollars from music content but gave relatively little back to the right-holders.

“Far from threatening our ecosystem, however, the directive will make things clearer, fairer and sustainable for all,” Smith wrote.

She dismissed the YouTube figures as “designed to dazzle, but our members’ own revenue results show that for every euro from YouTube, Spotify pays ten euros”.

She said that no longer would users and creators have to monitor for copyright infringement while the uploading platform claimed it was not responsible. Rather than take away jobs, Smith insisted that the effect of Section 13 would mean that new names would be discovered and sustained.

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