YouTube Creativity and the Regulator’s Dilemma: An Assessment of Factors Shaping Creative Production on Video-Sharing Platforms

41 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2021 Last revised: 16 Nov 2021

See all articles by Xiaoren Wang

Xiaoren Wang

CREATe Centre, University of Glasgow; University of Dundee; OIPRC, University of Oxford

Date Written: October 5, 2021


“Broadcast Yourself”, “Real People, Real Videos” — these slogans of YouTube and TikTok advertise a space for every grassroots creator. Influenced by this ideal picture, there may be social and economic concern that imposing strong regulations or legal liabilities on video-sharing platforms might suppress user creativity. It has been argued that these platforms offer creative opportunities: first, by sidestepping traditional gatekeepers (experts such as commissioning editors) and lowering the entry barriers for creators; secondly, platforms may provide creators with toolkits, knowledge, and connections with immediate audience feedback, thus empowering and democratizing the production of culture. This paper argues that regulation also needs to take account of anti-creative factors operating on content sharing platforms, countering their idealized image. Sharing platforms may not change the underlying dynamics of cultural and creative industries, such as creator poverty, inequality, or risk (uncertainty). The features of sharing platform may even enlarge the gap between the most popular creators and everyone else. The paper will first review psychological studies on creativity and economic theories of cultural goods. It will then propose how to apply these in a platform context, taking YouTube as an example. In particular the role of user interaction and YouTube’s recommender algorithm is explored. The paper concludes that the recent global wave of platform regulation (relying on copyright law, content regulation, algorithm regulation and competition/antitrust law) is insufficiently sighted of the factors discouraging creativity on platforms such as YouTube.

Keywords: user creativity, platform law, regulations, psychology, economics, YouTube

JEL Classification: O31; O32; O33; O34; K21

Suggested Citation

Wang, Xiaoren, YouTube Creativity and the Regulator’s Dilemma: An Assessment of Factors Shaping Creative Production on Video-Sharing Platforms (October 5, 2021). Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2022 (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN:

Xiaoren Wang (Contact Author)

CREATe Centre, University of Glasgow ( email )

9 Professors' Square
Glasgow, G12 8QH
United Kingdom

University of Dundee ( email )

Dundee, Scotland DD1 4HN
United Kingdom

OIPRC, University of Oxford

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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