For years, “old model” artists have been told to quit whining. Every time some well-known and well-established creator has spoken out about the issue of mass copyright infringement online, or the hazards that monopsonies like YouTube pose for all creators, the response from the “new model” gurus has always been nauseatingly repetitive. These legacy artists should stop clinging to old models; they should get with the program, stop thinking about selling their works and protecting their copyrights because the internet has rendered such notions obsolete. Plus, if creators would just wake up to the new realities, they would see a whole world of opportunity to make a living from their work without the evil gatekeepers.
I and others have tried to warn new creators that the “evil gatekeepers” have not been bypassed in the new model, but have instead been replaced by one or two gatekeepers that are at liberty to change the terms and conditions for use of their platforms without any obligation to the creators who helped grow the platforms. The above video by Glove and Boots does a good job (and an amusing one) of describing a phenomenon that apparently a lot of YouTubers are experiencing lately–lost viewers, allegedly due to algorithmic changes on the platform.
I haven’t dug into the details of this story but have heard similar complaints for at least several months now and can’t say that I’m surprised to see cracks in the YouTube model. It will be interesting to see where things go from here. Presumably, YouTube needs to serve the creators whose works draw viewers to the platform, but I’m going out on a limb to predict that changes at YouTube will make the company look even more like a traditional gatekeeper than it already does. Correspondingly, I will predict that the new creators will discover that they have something to learn from the old creators. In particular, if artists like YouTubers are ever going to be in a position to negotiate terms for their work, they will realize that their power to do so is based on this old model called copyright.
NOTE: I’ve shared this video because it does a good job of explaining what they and other creators believe is happening on the platform. As for their use of clips from the film Thelma & Louise, I believe it would stand a decent chance of being held a fair use in an analysis, but that should not distract from the intent of this post.
Photo by manae.