Republican, Democratic U.S. lawmakers ask Google to expand copyright protections

FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of Google logo in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday asked the chief executive of Alphabet’s Google to expand its use of technology that prevents copyright infringement to smaller creators who are “at a significant disadvantage.”

Copyright holders with “smaller catalogs of works” are disadvantaged without Google’s “Content ID” technology, having to manually track down copyright infringements or allow their intellectual property to be used, the group of U.S. senators and representatives said in their letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Creators like Nashville songwriters, who post their music to YouTube but may not have the massive followings of pop stars, are “disproportionately at risk of infringement,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, in a statement.

The lawmakers asked Pichai if the company plans to provide access to its “Content ID” technology to more creators on its YouTube video platform and asked Google to send representatives to answer questions before a congressional panel.

Creators who own “a substantial body of original material that is frequently uploaded” to YouTube are eligible to use the technology, according to YouTube’s website.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The group included Jerrold Nadler, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Republican ranking member of that committee Doug Collins, as well as Democratic ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein.

The lawmakers also asked Pichai how Google determines which creators qualify as those with a “substantial body” of material and if Content ID is used on Google’s other platforms such as Google Photos and Google Drive.

Reporting by Bryan Pietsch; Editing by Tom Brown