Spanish YouTuber Takes Legal Action Against Google Spain Over Content Creator Rights

A Spanish YouTuber has initiated legal action against Google Spain, an arm of Alphabet Inc, alleging wrongful dismissal. This case, if successful, could set a significant precedent for the labor rights of content creators, as per the Spanish union UGT’s statement on Thursday.

The lawsuit aims to establish an employer-employee relationship between ‘Jota,’ the creator behind political satire content (whose real identity remains undisclosed), and YouTube, a division of Alphabet. The contention arises from Jota’s regular provision of services and receipt of compensation derived from advertising revenue, according to UGT.

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In August, Google Spain barred Jota’s YouTube channel, “Último Bastión” (Last Stronghold), from generating advertising revenue. Jota claims that the company withdrew funds from his YouTube payments account, an action deemed as severance of the employment relationship by his lawyer, Bernardo Garcia. The legal representation has appealed to the court to categorize the association between Jota and YouTube as a labor relationship, emphasizing his alleged wrongful dismissal.

Jota’s channel predominantly featured left-wing political satire, using official feeds from entities like parliament and town halls, supplemented with subtitles and special effects aligned with his perspectives.

While Garcia and the union did not elaborate on the reasons for the advertising revenue cut to Jota’s channel, Google contends that content creators are not employees. The company specifically mentioned that Jota’s channel failed to comply with YouTube’s monetization policies.

In an emailed statement, Google Spain expressed its strong commitment to creators’ success, highlighting revenue-sharing practices. However, it reiterated that, in this context, YouTube creators do not hold an employee status based on the nature of the relationship.

A Madrid court has scheduled a hearing for June 26 next year to address this legal dispute.

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Spain previously set a precedent in Europe for gig-economy workers’ rights by mandating food delivery companies to hire their riders as staff in 2021. UGT emphasized its dedication to combatting false self-employment and challenging the precarious labor conditions purportedly imposed by tech giants.

Eduardo Magaldi, a spokesperson for UGT, highlighted the parallels between the gig economy and traditional labor structures, where some control the means of production while others provide labor, whether digitally or manually, from workplaces or homes.

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