By Sean Jackson
Content creators on YouTube have recently joined forces for a community-based union that they claim will combat the unfair business practices and arbitrary standards set forth by YouTube. The venture, known as FairTube has joined forces with IG Metall, Europe’s largest trade union, demanding YouTube address the concerns of content creators. The collective of content creators have also created a plan of action for how they will address individual concerns.
The decision to create a YouTube union comes in response to the fairly laissez-faire approach and disjointedness imposed on each individual content creator have taken while YouTube enacts rules. The movement is to create collective bargaining in an attempt to counter changes on the video platform that impacts their ability to make money.
Examples of this claim is that YouTube has changed standards for copyright multiple times without consulting or informing content creators, resulting in takedowns and demonetization of videos. Other examples include the demonetization of what FairTube considers innocuous content with no opportunity for recourse, or demonetization during key times where content creators receive most of their views.
Jörg Sprave, a YouTuber made popular from his slingshot videos recently talked to Motherboard addressing the lack of transparency. “We aren’t demanding things that cut into profits or are unrealistic. We want fairness. We want transparency. We want to be treated like real partners. And we want personal communication instead of anonymous communication.”
FairTube’s campaign website outlines a list of their proposals, which utilizes Europe’s broad privacy laws, as well as Germany’s labor laws to force YouTube to come to the negotiation table.
FairTube’s list of proposals includes:
1) Publish all categories and decision criteria that affect monetization and views of videos
2) Give clear explanations for individual decisions – for example, if a video is demonetized, which parts of the video violated which criteria in the Advertiser-Friendly Content Guidelines?
3) Give YouTubers a human contact person who is qualified and authorized to explain decisions that have negative consequences for YouTubers, (and fix them if they are mistaken)
4) Let YouTubers contest decisions that have negative consequences
5) Create an independent mediation board for resolving disputes
6) Formal participation of YouTubers in important decisions, for example through a YouTuber Advisory Board.
IG Metall believes that YouTube will concede to these basic demands by utilizing Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) what is known as a ‘data controller’, and a ‘data subject’. A data controller being the company or organization that makes determination while a data subject being a person whose data is being processed, collected, or controlled.
IG Metall’s project secretary Michael Six Silberman outlined how YouTube has an obligation to share data about data subjects, saying, “The right to be informed if a controller is storing personal data about you and what they’re doing with it. The right to receive a copy of all the data they have about you. The right to have data corrected or forgotten.”
IG Metall hopes that the GDPR can be the framework for revealing arbitrary demonetization or takedowns of videos, which can help content creators curate content that clearly follow YouTube’s content guidelines.