Stephen Fry has waded in on the on-going debate to tighten copyright laws on YouTube, suggesting it would lead to the ‘death of the internet.’
The European Parliament will today vote on a measure backed by the music industry that will require YouTube to share more of the revenue it generates from video views with musicians.
Currently YouTube pays around $1 per subscriber to record labels such as Universal and Sony, while the likes of Spotify and Apple pay up to $20.
Fry has now backed campaigners by warning that the move could threaten the end of memes, remixes and other user-generated content that will often make use of IP without permission.
Fry tweeted that the Article 13 legislation “threatens EU creators, leaving us vulnerable to censorship in copyright’s name. Don’t believe the creepy pretence that it’s there to protect copyright holders. It’s about putting power in the hands of media corporations.”
His stance is in direct opposition to artists such as Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran who are among the stars who would profit if YouTube is forced to pay out billions of pounds to hitmakers.
It’s also been criticised by chair of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, Crispin Hunt, who said that the legislation will benefit not just the successful, but ‘every fringe and every independent musician to have their work valued.’
“Stephen Fry is one of those copyright millionaires he can afford to give away his work – several million others can’t. We want culture to have value online,” he said.
Meanwhile, Michael Dugher, chief executive of UK Music, said that the threat that memes would be banned was “desperate and dishonest propaganda, cynically pedalled by big tech like Google’s YouTube with a huge vested and multi-million pound interest in this battle.”
YouTube, which has 1.3bn users, paid £650m royalties to music companies last year compared to the £4.3bn returned by streaming platforms including Spotify and Apple Music.