Europe’s digital chief joins the YouTube debate

youtube square canvasAnother voice joined the debate over YouTube, this time from the EU government. Andrus Ansip, former prime minister of Estonia and current vice president for the digital single market on the European Commission, said YouTube’s lower payments made to the music industry give it an unfair advantage over services that focus on subscriptions.

“This is not only about rights owners and creators and their remuneration — it is also about a level playing field between different service providers,” Ansip said. “Platforms based on subscriptions are remunerating those authors; others service providers do not. How can they compete?”

Industry competition is a new facet to the ongoing YouTube and ad-supported streaming debate. The U.S. Copyright Office is already involved on this side of the pond, but perhaps more branches will be looped in if this concern of an equal business playing field gains traction. The launch of YouTube Red, a joint video and music subscription, may impact the arguments about a fair playing field. But no hard numbers have emerged yet to give a sense of how much of the platform’s billions of users have started paying into the system.

Anna Washenko