The EU is proposing strict new copyright rules aimed at making it easier for musicians, TV makers and publishers to make money out of their work online.
Google could be especially hard hit by the rules, which could force both YouTubeand Google News to pay out more for hosting content or showing parts of it.
Many working in newspapers and the music and film and TV industries hold Google partly to blame for lost revenues from issues such as piracy.
In particular, artists and record labels have argued that YouTube has created a “value gap” but does not fairly compensate them for the huge amount of music streamed over its platform, arguing that it hides behind “safe harbour” rules governing content uploaded by users.
The new rules, which are contained in proposals from the European commission for an updated copyright directive, would require video sites such as YouTube to quickly remove or get authorisation for copyrighted videos, and strengthen the negotiating position of rights holders.
YouTube and other sites such as Dailymotion would have an “obligation to deploy effective means such as technology to automatically detect songs or audiovisual works”, though it praises YouTube’s efforts in the area.
The directive also offers hope for news publishers, some of which have been vociferous in their criticism of firms such as Google for making money from their content without paying.
New rules will recognise “the key role press publishers play in terms of investments in and overall contribution to the creation of quality journalistic content”, providing them with a stronger foundation to make aggregators such as Google News pay for republishing all or part of their article.
The European commission also said it was looking at ways to improve enforcement of rules including involving digital advertising companies that put ads on sites that host content that violates copyright, and companies that process payments for sites that charge for access.
Google’s vice president for global policy, Caroline Atkinson, said the company disagreed with the commission’s approach.
“Innovation and partnership – not subsidies and onerous restrictions – are the key to a successful, diverse and sustainable news sector in the EU,” she wrote in a blog post.
“And for both European creators and consumers, it’s vital to preserve the principles of linking, sharing and creativity on which so much of the web’s success is built. The appropriate balance has not yet been struck, and Google is committed to playing its part in the discussions.”