YouTube Finally Admits It Totally Screwed Up Rolling Out ContentID To Multi-Channel Networks; Trying To Improve Tools

from the that-took-quite-a-bit-of-time dept

Back in December, we wrote about YouTube extending ContentID to multi-channel networks (MCNs), which had previously been a way for video makers to effectively “hide” from ContentID in exchange for giving up some of their ad revenue to the network. The move created a lot of angry responses, and as we pointed out, a big part of the problem was YouTube’s absolute failure to explain what happened, why it happened and to be prepared to deal with the fallout. Instead, YouTube stayed almost entirely silent while some of its biggest partners and users were crushed under a sudden flood of ContentID notices and “strikes” on their account. I still can’t figure out what the hell took them this long, but YouTube has finally admitted that “This introduction didn’t go as we hoped…. And we left some of our community feeling frustrated and confused.” You think?

YouTube also is noting that it had updated its ContentID tools to try to avoid some of the excessive takedowns associated with it. For one thing, it appears that “certain rightsholders” are being asked “to perform in-depth audits of their references before they can make any new claims.” Reading between the lines, that sounds like YouTube is hitting back at rightsholders who have abused ContentID. That sounds good, though we’ll have to see how it plays out in practice. YouTube is also making it easier to pull out incidental audio in videos that might trigger a ContentID claim, improving the way MCNs can “fast track” a response to claims they think are bogus, and is promising to more aggressively investigate ContentID abuse.

This seems like a step forward, but I’m still flabbergasted that YouTube took this long to really do anything about that rollout. Google, as a whole, has never exactly had the reputation of communicating particularly well with its users. We’ve discussed the big faceless white monolith problem before. It’s beyond belief that YouTube didn’t realize lots of people were about to be hit with ContentID claims when they made the switch — and while they briefed a few MCNs, they did so in confusing ways that left out many details (and resulted in misleading claims by people that “YouTube had implemented SOPA!”). Furthermore, from a press standpoint, the company was incredibly non-communicative, repeatedly pushing a bland and meaningless “statement” in response to any and all questions, and refusing to answer actual questions.

Google too often has a blindness for this kind of thing, in which it doesn’t realize how much what it thinks are minor changes to its systems will directly impact people — in some cases, directly impacting how they make a living. It still seems like this is Google’s big Achilles Heel, and it’s something that I’m amazed the company has consistently failed to address over time.

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Companies: google, youtube

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Comments on “YouTube Finally Admits It Totally Screwed Up Rolling Out ContentID To Multi-Channel Networks; Trying To Improve Tools”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Customer Service in the Digital Age

My experience with customer service was nose to nose and toes to toes, in other words face to face. We learned to deal with dissatisfied, or even irate customers in the flesh. It was not always easy, and not all complaints were legitimate. One learns though.

Having had this experience, I have long decried the digital equivalent, which is nothing or next to nothing. I have had some isolated instances of good online customer service, but they remain a small percentage.

It may cost cable companies, phone companies, Google, and many others in the digital realm some money to provide descent customer service, but so what? Is the alternative of poor relations really worth the risk? Could one of the biggies be taken down by quality?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Customer Service in the Digital Age

Google should have gotten a clue about customer service from their fiber internet service. It wasn’t just faster speeds people were coming as the reason of.

Customer service is a biggie. It is one of the major hitters against most of the major internet providers. Dissatisfaction with responses when they can get them, leaves customers with the idea that the first time something else shows up they are gone.

I’ve heard a lot of horror stories on the net about youtube. They nor this is going to affect me personally as I tend to surf with a computer without sound. I could load the drivers and have it work but I’ve left it this way and I don’t miss the sound at all. That also means this computer isn’t being used for music, movies, nor anything else that requires sound. I’m ok with that.

But then I’m not trying to put stuff up on Google nor Youtube either.

Jay (profile) says:


Finally, we are always on the lookout for abuse. Misuse of Content ID is extremely rare, but when it does happen we take it very seriously and investigate every claim.

Your $50 million dollar system is not a fingerprint. It does not understand the rights of the public. It heavily favors corporations over the people. It is a system that people don’t want and you aren’t making it any easier for people to believe you.

This is a system that hounds people about making money and hampers their own creativity. You have no escrow account to help people with copyright claims nor do you even care about when it screws you up since you make money and offshore it, ignoring taxes on it, screwing over your workers and screwing over your own workers by hiring them as temps. The contract workers get low pay while the engineers get the big bucks and that’s okay?

You expect after all of the stories about how they use other people, that Google cares enough about the Content ID and their false positives?

As it stands, this is nothing more than the copyright regime similar to ASCAP which gives them revenue for doing nothing.

And yet, instead of actual fixes, I’m to believe that Google will actually listen to people that are upset about the CPM rate? Upset about all of the changes that they’ve implemented without any feedback? Upset that Google can’t take two minutes between making money to really think about solutions instead of creating artificial problems?


polymath (profile) says:

it's all in the timing

Come on folks. YT settles its longstanding litigation on March 18th. It reforms ContentID by March 27th. That is really fast.

The last thing Google would have wanted was the appeal to go back to the district court on remand to consider new facts: whether Google was facilitating EVIL EVIL PIRACY by crippling its ContentID system. Remember that syndication of content (“MCNs”) was a specific point that Viacom was arguing in the case.

ContentID — and that rightsholders admitted that ContentID was awesome — was a key part of Google’s case in that suit. Viacom had stipulated that YouTube’s infringement had stopped when ContentID was rolled out. Do you think that Viacom was looking for a way to get out of that stipulation, since the rest of their case collapsed? Would a change to ContentID have let Viacom try to do that? Yes, obviously.

This isn’t a matter of “customer service on the internet.” The MCNs included negotiated business deals (I think), not just self service reskinning. Of course partners would be upset and let Google know. Maybe threaten to end the MCN deals. Maybe actually end them. Google aren’t dummies; when their salespeople can’t sell, they don’t ignore the salespeople.

CK20XX (profile) says:

Re: it's all in the timing

I’m not sure it’s cut-and-dry one way or the other, but given the severely borked state of copyright law, this whole fiasco may have gone as good as it possibly could have gone, given the circumstances. Whether you think that Google is good or evil, smart or stupid, they did have to dance the way the courts wanted lest they faced legal oblivion. If only copyright law wasn’t so broken and useless, perhaps we might be better able to deduce how much of Google’s action is due to them being a stereotypical mega-corporation and how much is due to other corporations holding them at gunpoint.

nasch (profile) says:

Surprised, or not?

This article is strangely written. It goes back and forth between expressing disbelief and amazement that Google could possibly make a mistake like this, and explaining Google’s long and plentiful history of making mistakes like this. If you’ve seen them screw up customer relations over and over again, why are you so surprised that they did it again?

Anonymous Coward says:

You can have real free speech, or you can have copyright, with gatekeepers deciding what speech will be made public. The problem with the gatekeeper model, mosts peoples speech gets lost in the slush pile, and never reviewed, never mind published. Contentid give too much power to legacy gatekeepers, and can all too easily be abused to overload Google’s ability to deal with challenges to its decisions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

ContentID recognize a subjective judgement as a reasonable substitute for a legal opinion and they have therefore exacerbated the problem of “subjective actions”. Fighting “abuse” is just a blind-sided excuse for ignoring the real problem of conflation in the structure. I’ll give them that it is possible to minimize the problem a lot by throwing more ressources at the problem, but ultimately it would be a very long and slow process to a very expensive system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Software cannot make a subjective decision, only a person can do that, and we are back to a gatekeeper model for public speech via publishing something. AFAIK, the only ways to exempt content from contentid is by excluding an account/channel from its reach, or excluding a URI from its reach.
Control over publication was justified when it was managing access to limited production and distribution capacity. This however limits free speech by putting a gatekeeper between a speaker and their audience. It however becomes somewhat more problematic when it is used to totally control how and when speech is made available, I.e. TV channels preventing non commercial re-distribution , and when it is is used to limit speech on the Internet because of a small piece of someones content is incidental to the speech, like accidentally captured music.
Controlling what when and how something was published, is a necessary evil when physical copies are being produced. It is pure evil when it is is used to control what, when and how on an effectively unlimited Internet. Almost ever piece of speech borrows from copyrighted works, and an automatic identify the bits so that it can be blocked is effectively a means of enabling gatekeepers to control public speech.
Improvements to contentid will only increase the works that it tags, as software cannot deal with value judgments required for fair use. Also the people demanding its use do not want fair use to exist, but control over all publishing so that they can make a profit.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is a typical Google fiasco

There are (some) smart people working at Google, but one things that characterizes a great deal of them is that they are young, inexperienced, clueless and naive. This shows up in multiple ways — this particular problem being one of them. I’ll point to their miserably botched handling of Usenet (egotistically rebranded as “Google Groups”, as if somehow Google was responsible for work started in 1979) and their steady degradation of Gmail, which is now a haven for spammers, phishers and scammers thanks to their inability to properly respond to abuse complaints in a timely and professional manner.

Google does some interesting things. Sometimes it does some very good things. But it is an extremely poor netizen and does not properly discharge its responsibilities toward the entire rest of the Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

We need to change the legal atmosphere that Google must operate in. The legal atmosphere is very one sided in favor of privilege holders with very one sided penalties and requirements against anyone potentially infringing and service providers while generally allowing those that file bogus takedown notices to go unpunished. That’s the first thing that needs to be addressed. Stricter and prompter and more easy to enforce penalties against false takedown notices/requests.

Khaim (profile) says:

Re: Incidental audio

On the one hand, yes. But there’s no algorithmic way to establish fair use. (As far as I know – if you have a way to do so, please tell me.) And in many cases, the uploaders don’t actually care about the incidental audio. So arguing fair use to keep it in just isn’t worth the trouble.

If I understand this correctly, YouTube is providing a simple tool to remove minor portions of audio. Uploaders can use this tool when they decide it’s easier than fighting over the 2 seconds of some pop song in the background.

And ultimately, this will lead to the removal of ContentID audio from all kinds of videos. Where before musicians had free advertising, and had people expressing their cultural tastes, now there will just be quiet. The few who are smart enough to not monetize or takedown will be the real winners.

Anonymous Coward says:

What’s annoying is that Youtube no longer lists the responsible party for video takedowns. For instance, I tried to access a video explaining how Aspartame got approved

and it’s no longer there (I found it somewhere else though). This video is important political speech and the corporations behind how it got approved have huge incentive to file a bogus takedown against it to censor the speech. The video doesn’t seem like the kind of video whose author would request it taken down but it’s possible I suppose. So now I’m left scratching my head, was the video taken down as a result of a false takedown notice or was the IP holder responsible for the takedown. Or was the account simply banned due to other videos that infringed?

Here is an alternative link that was more recently put up

(note: I do not promote anything this video maybe advertising, just thought the history of aspartame approval was worth letting people know about).

Lets see if this gets taken down as well and what lack of explanation Youtube has.

The problem is it seems that it’s so easy for IP holders to require takedowns but it’s a pain for those who get their content falsely taken down to contest it. and those requesting false takedowns have a lot more resources to fight speech they don’t like than those putting up that speech.

TubeBar (profile) says:

Total BS we just left our MCN and all of sudden have 20 videos w/ a ALL false claims on it many from countries that don’t even honor WIPO like Russia and India – who is YouTube even letting in their “club”?. YouTube hasn’t changed a thing they still suck.

Any MCN can make a claim and monetize the video, but users have to prove they own the copyright just to monetize 1 video? Totally fucked up system.

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