What a proposed copyright change could mean for creators



At Patreon, we believe in protecting the intellectual property rights of all creators, and protecting creators’ ability to use artistic works in new and creative ways. Creators who help us understand what’s going on in the world through newsletters, podcasts, and long-form investigative journalism deserve a level playing field to compete with traditional outlets. But with new restrictions in some countries, that could become more difficult.

Germany, Spain, and Australia have recently instituted new regulations taxing search engines and other online platforms for publishing short pieces of news (quotations, headlines, etc.) with links to the original source. Late last year, the U.S. Copyright Office began exploring this new type of regulation as well, asking for input into how it would impact users.

One problem: the U.S. Copyright Office’s inquiry is so broad that it could impact any and all producers of content — including many Patreon creators. These rules could impact a lot of the things creators make and do with their communities, including:

  • Publishing links to news stories and summaries discussed in podcast show notes;
  • Hosting community discussions that involve sharing links or commenting on major news;
  • Producing roundup newsletters with links and commentary; or
  • Launching reporting sites that provide a local perspective on national or international news by linking to stories from major publications.

For this reason, we’ve submitted comments to the Copyright Office about how a new rule might impact creators on Patreon and similar platforms that help creators get paid.

In our full submission, we raised concerns like:

  • How making links copyrightable could disincentivize people from linking at all.
  • How the Copyright Office’s proposed rules could further consolidate market power, harming smaller creators, platforms, independent journalists, etc.
  • How creators actually benefit from platforms competing over the creation, distribution, and monetization of creative works.

While the Copyright Office’s proposal is clearly well-intentioned, it poses potential unintended consequences which, if implemented, would harm the creative community. At Patreon, we will always strive to advocate on behalf of creators and their needs. That’s why we spoke up on behalf of creators, and it’s why we’ll continue to do so. As always, feel free to reach out to CreatorPolicy@Patreon.com with thoughts, ideas, or questions.