Austrian Court Ruling Could Imperil YouTube and Facebook

Social media behemoths like YouTube and Facebook are likely to find themselves adversely affected by a recent court ruling in Vienna, Austria, which decreed that the world’s premier video streaming services is partly responsible for copyright infringements that take place on its platform. The new ruling is only the latest development in a long-unresolved dispute between content creators, advertisers, YouTube and other streaming services.

The preliminary ruling’s impact

According to Yahoo News, a judge in Vienna announced on Tuesday that YouTube can indeed be held responsible for copyright infringements that occur when users upload copyright-protected videos to the streaming site. YouTube has long championed that it can’t possibly be responsible for such infringements, particularly given the immense scope of the company’s userbase, but the court’s preliminary ruling could have far-ranging impacts that force the company and other streaming services to crack down on copyright infringements.

“YouTube must in future – through advance controls – ensure that no content that infringes copyright is uploaded,” the court noted, per Yahoo.

The global music industry has sought stricter regulations on YouTube in particular thanks to its immense popularity, particularly among young internet users streaming musical content who sometimes buy YouTube subscribers to increase views. Disparate artists and companies have claimed that YouTube should be responsible when users upload content that might include their music, but the video streaming surface posits that it’s merely a neutral service provider, and that individual users should be responsible for such infringements.

The court noted that YouTube’s complex algorithms and digital services, which collect data on users to better recommend certain videos, necessarily renders it a non-neutral arbiter of video services. Thus, the court has ruled that those wronged in copyright violations have a right to hold YouTube responsible for such violations.

According to recent research issued by the Pew Research Center, YouTube remains the most popular social media site by far, particularly among teenagers. American teenagers reported using YouTube more than any other platform in a recent survey, with some 85% of U.S. teens alleging they use the video streaming site. Other video-hosting social media sites, like Facebook, are steadily losing younger users.