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CMU’s Setlist podcast discusses ‘takedown-stay-down’

By | Published on Monday 9 October 2017

Setlist Podcast

The latest edition of CMU’s weekly music business podcast Setlist is out today. This week’s episode sees CMU’s Andy Malt and Chris Cooke discussing the European Commission’s new guidelines on illegal content online, Spotify’s ongoing mechanical royalty woes Stateside, and what Calvin Harris made of his music opening Theresa May’s disastrous Conservative Party conference speech last week.

Those new guidelines from the EC largely focus on content that incites violence or terrorism, but also include new recommendations on how copyright infringing material should be managed by internet platforms that inadvertently host such content as a result of automated or user-initiated activity.

The document comments on the ‘takedown systems’ that internet companies must operate in order to enjoy safe harbour protection, ie so that they can’t be sued over the copyright infringing content they inadvertently host. EC officials advocate more sophisticated takedown systems that ensure that once a piece of copyright infringing content has been taken down once, it cannot then be uploaded again by another user – much like YouTube’s Content ID system.

“That’s the irony here”, says Cooke on the show. “Because normally when we’re talking about safe harbours, and the music industry’s dislike of safe harbours, we’re laying into YouTube. But that’s not about the takedown system bit. The issue with YouTube is that the music industry doesn’t think that it should have safe harbour protection at all, however good its takedown system is. The argument being, it’s a user upload platform, not an internet service provider”.

He continues: “When it comes to all the other internet companies, where the music industry isn’t saying they shouldn’t have safe harbour protection – so internet service providers and server hosting companies – there they’re saying the takedown systems aren’t good enough. So it’s sort of ironic that when it comes to the whole takedown issue, YouTube is doing exactly what the music industry wants”.

Of course, these new guidelines are just that, and do not place any new legal obligations on internet companies to offer more robust takedown systems. However, adds Cooke, this report could be a step towards that happening: “As is often the case when governments or the European Commission put out guidelines … there is an implied threat at the bottom, this maybe an opportunity for the internet companies to put their houses in order. If they don’t, then maybe next year [the EC will] actually start putting some new laws in place to try to make this happen”.

Setlist is available wherever you find podcasts. Find out more and listen here:



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