Google is trying to conscript YouTubers in its fight with Australia’s consumer watchdog — but not all creators are onboard

YouTube: robelinda2
  • As part of its battle with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Google has appealed directly to YouTube creators to push back against the draft news media code.
  • Some members of the YouTube community feel that it is unfair that news publishers would receive special treatment under the draft code.
  • But smaller creators remain apathetic about the changes, citing their lack of influence over YouTube policy in the past.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

The whole world has been paying attention to the skirmish between Australia’s consumer watchdog, the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the US tech giants.

In a world first, the ACCC is attempting to broker an agreement between Facebook, Google and Australian news publishers to pay for news content. Their latest effort, a draft code that lays out a procedure for the negotiation process, has been poorly received by the tech companies.

In an attempt to stave off regulation, Google is attempting to win over public opinion by going to their broader community with their concerns.

One of Google’s tactics in the campaign is an effort to conscript the community of YouTube creators as allies in the fight.

But are YouTubers on board? We asked Australian creators about what they thought of the fight over the future of the Australian internet.

Rob Moody — robelinda2 on YouTube

Rob Moody is a creator who has built a devoted following of 740,000 YouTuber subscribers by uploading vintage cricket videos onto the platform. As someone who’s had frequent run-ins with big media companies over rights to footage, Moody has shared his frustrations about the lack of support for independent creators in the past.

Moody said he’s been following the ACCC-Google stoush, and is not optimistic about the outcome.

“I’ve read a little around it recently, I’m sure it will be more of ‘the rich get richer,'” he said.

While he hasn’t committed to engaging with the process, he thinks it will affect him a little differently. Moody doesn’t earn money off his channel – sharing great cricket moments is a labor of love for him – and so he’s less worried about competition with big news companies.

“It seems like people making money from YouTube will be mostly affected,” he said.

Patryk Lazarz – Tech Man Pat on YouTube

Patryk Lazarz is a tech vlogger who typically posts reviews of electronic goods and covers tech news who weighed in on Google’s open letter to Australians in a recent video.

He said it’s hard to imagine a world where Google would be forced to pay for news. He compares it to having an advertising business pay businesses to advertise with them.

“They are two different businesses, and news publishers have stayed in the dark ages not willing to change their model and their way of business and so they will go like Blockbuster,” he said.

Lazarz doesn’t want new publishers to get special treatment by getting advanced notice about algorithm changes and information about user habits, as laid out in the ACCC’s draft code. He doesn’t mind publishers getting financial support in some way, but he doesn’t think this is the way to do it.

“Forcing Facebook and Google to fork out will hurt people more than help news outlets,” he said. “Google isn’t going to take this lying down – they are a business.”

Harrison Engstrom – Harrison Engstrom on YouTube

Harrison Engstrom is a comedy YouTuber and digital strategy consultant. He said communities of small Australian YouTubers have taken note of the showdown. They’re planning to make videos about it, he said, but not more than that.

“I’m like this will kinda blow over,” he said. “I don’t like supporting big corporations and their scare tactics even if I’m trying to use their platform for profit.”

He describes an almost fatalistic perspective from long term creators: they will accept whatever decision is made about the platform because they’ve always had to accept the tech platform’s changes.

“My takeaway from it is: it sucks, but this is also what happens when you become complacent on a system that refuses to correct itself,” Engstrom finished.