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Thom Yorke compares YouTube and Google to Nazi Germany

Perhaps he should brush up on his World War II knowledge.


Josh Katzowitz

Internet Culture

Posted on Dec 1, 2015   Updated on May 27, 2021, 1:58 pm CDT

You know that when somebody invokes Hitler or the Nazi party or the Holocaust, the argument they’re making is on the verge of being over. As everybody should know by now, nothing is comparable to Hitler or the Nazi party or the Holocaust, and if somebody has to bring up the Third Reich to make their point, the opposing debater can surmise one of two things: Either the person making the Nazi argument has run out of metaphors, or this person doesn’t actually understand 20th century history.

Yet that didn’t stop Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke—still embroiled in a years-long battle against websites who allow music to be streamed online—from taking a crack at the Nazi line. And he did it when he was asked by Italian newspaper La Repubblica how he listens to music.

“I don’t use YouTube, that’s for sure,” Yorke said, via Music Business Worldwide. When asked how about how artists can make money in this age of piracy and streaming, he had this to say:

“I don’t know, you tell me. I don’t have a solution for these problems. I just know [YouTube] makes money [from] the work of so many artists that don’t make any profit. They keep saying that this is an era where music is free, where cinema is free. Not true. The makers of these services make money. Google, YouTube; a huge amount of money, trawling like in the ocean, taking everything there is. ‘Oh sorry, was that yours? Now it’s ours. No, no just kidding — it’s still yours.’ They’ve seized control of [art]. It’s like what the Nazis did during the Second World War. Actually, it’s like what everyone was doing during that war, even the English — stealing the art of other countries. What difference is there?”

Um, plenty of difference! Including the fact that YouTube isn’t rounding up oppressed minorities and sending them to concentration camps.

This isn’t the first time Yorke has railed against streaming services. In 2013, he took some of his catalog off Spotify and said people needed to value new music.

He also dropped his latest solo record on BitTorrent, saying, “If [the experiment] works well, it could be an effective way of handing some control of Internet commerce back to the people who are creating the work, enabling those people who make either music, video, or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves, bypassing the self-elected gatekeepers. If it works, anyone can do this exactly as we have done. The torrent mechanism does not require any server uploading or hosting costs or ‘cloud’ malarkey.'”

Yorke did say in his interview with La Repubblica that he uses Boomkat to listen to new music. He also said he utilizes an app that blocks YouTube ads.

Photo via anyonlinyr/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 

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*First Published: Dec 1, 2015, 4:52 pm CST