18 October 2019
The meeting planned for October 22 in Berlin between YouTube/Google and FairTube, the joint initiative of the Youtubers Union and IG Metall, has been canceled. YouTube/Google repeatedly refused to allow Jörg Sprave, founder of the Youtubers Union, to be present at the meeting. As a result, IG Metall today announced its decision not to participate either.
During the preparations for the meeting, YouTube/Google indicated, to our surprise, that Jörg Sprave was neither invited to, nor welcome at, the meeting. IG Metall made repeated requests to include Mr Sprave, but YouTube/Google explicitly refused these requests. As a result, a poll was conducted among the members of the Youtubers Union to decide if IG Metall should participate in the meeting anyway. Within a few hours, about 2,400 members of the Youtubers Union participated in the poll. They voted firmly against a meeting without in-person representation from the Youtubers Union.
Christiane Benner, vice president of IG Metall, expressed her disappointment in YouTube/Google’s decision to exclude the Youtubers Union. “This meeting is meaningless without the Youtubers Union,” she said. “The poll shows that IG Metall has no mandate to meet with YouTube/Google without a representative from the Youtubers Union. Our demands were discussed and prioritized by the members of the Youtubers Union; that is our legitimation. I’m surprised that Google does not want to hear the position of the Youtubers as authentically expressed by a Youtuber. Google claims that it aims to improve people’s lives by making all the world’s information accessible. But apparently this does not include YouTube Creators, even though they are the basis for YouTube’s success. Instead of allowing Youtubers to participate as equal partners in the development of the platform, Google has closed the door in their faces. This is not the action of a progressive, twenty-first century organization but of a digital dinosaur with twenty-first century technology and a nineteenth-century management style.”
Jörg Sprave, founder of the Youtubers Union, said: “The Youtubers Union has made a clear decision about this meeting. They have also signalled that we must pick up the pace. We have a variety of actions in planning that we will begin shortly. We hope, of course, that YouTube will change their minds. It’s not yet too late for constructive discussions. But the Youtubers Union must be invited.”
The meeting was planned as a result of six proposals publicly presented to YouTube by the FairTube initiative. The proposals were presented on July 26, 2019 along with a request for a reply within four weeks. On the day of the deadline (August 23), YouTube/Google replied with an invitation to meet.
The FairTube proposals are:
- Publish all categories and decision criteria that affect monetization and views of videos
- 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?
- 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)
- Let YouTubers contest decisions that have negative consequences
- Create an independent mediation board for resolving disputes
- Formal participation of YouTubers in important decisions, for example through a YouTuber Advisory Board