Digitization/platformization of the means of publishing and distribution of creative content like music and videos has been lauded for reducing the entry barriers to the creative content distribution chain, amongst other benefits. However, it has not resulted in a commensurate accrual of more value to the content creators. This value gap is due to the gross disproportionality between the contractual power wielded by the digital streaming platforms and their content creators. As is typical of platforms, creative content streaming platforms create the ecosystem within which their activities are run, and as the dominant player, impose the terms and conditions for participation by other actors. Using YouTube as a case study, this thesis undertakes an analysis of the relationship between media platforms and content creators. It considers how this relationship is formed, run and regulated. It compares the relationship between creators and the traditional intermediaries with the relationship between the creators and the digital intermediaries. It finds that the content creators, in dealing with digital platforms, are in a more power-disadvantaged position than they are in the traditional value chain, which is itself tilted against the creators. With the goal of seeking the least intrusive solutions to the challenge of imbalance of contractual powers which has resulted in a wide value gap in the digital creative content ecosystem, this thesis undertaken of the power management tools employed in offline relationships vis-à-vis what obtains in the online world. Finally, it concludes that the creator is even in a worse situation as regards the gap between the bargaining power between them and the new intermediary. In concluding, this thesis proposes that the most effective power control mechanism for the YouTube-YouTuber relationship will be a combination of collective action and legislation.


Keywords: YouTube, YouTubers, User-Generated Content, Digital Intermediaries, Collective Management, CMOs, Intellectual Property Rights, Bargaining Power

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