A host of A-list musicians and major record labels have signed a letter calling for a reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Organised by music manager Irving Azoff, who has previously taken issue with the Google-owned video platform, the petition has attracted support from dozens of artists including Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Paul McCartney and U2 as well as Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music.
The message is poised for publication in titles like Politico and the Hill this week, and comes amid growing debate between labels, musicians and YouTube, with the former feeling as though the law allows Google to monitise and host their songs without compensating artists accordingly.
The letter is addressed to Congress and contends that YouTube and other tech companies provide a safe harbour for copyright infringement under the current DMCA laws.
“The existing laws threaten the continued viability of songwriters and recording artists to survive from the creation of music. Aspiring creators shouldn’t have to decide between making music and making a living. Please protect them,” reads the note.
“One of the biggest problems confronting songwriters and recording artists today is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This law was written and passed in an era that is technologically out-of-date compared to the era in which we live.
“It has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish. Music consumption has skyrocketed, but the monies earned by individual writers and artists for that consumption has plummeted.”
While Azoff has himself been outspoken about YouTube and other platforms in the past, this is the first time celebrities and record labels have grouped together to mobilise support around the issue.
YouTube has previously argued that tools like it’s Content ID technology, which automatically deals with 99.5 per cent of copyright claims has helped generate $3bn for artists to date, and said that comparing the fees it pays artists to other higher-paying services like Spotify is like "comparing what a cab driver earns from fares to what they earn showing ads in their taxi."
This is not the first time Taylor Swift has attached her name to such a protest. In 2014 she took issue with Spotify, removing all music from the platform and last year she persuaded Apple Music to pay royalties to musicians during its 90-day free launch trial.