YouTube Finally Demands Specificity From Copyright Claimants
from the hopefully-this-will-limit-abuse-of-the-system dept
At long last, YouTube is rolling out changes to its copyright claim system. For years, it has been heavily-slanted in favor of copyright claimants. Concessions made by YouTube to legacy industries screwed the whole thing up, giving claimants credibility they hadn’t earned in exchange for… a free platform to distribute their content with. Win-win for them. Lose-lose for everyone else.
Add to this the whole “ContentID” clusterfuck and you have a mess. It’s a mess that results in the sort of dystopian outcomes no one ever expected from an online video platform. Straight-up weird stuff that would be considered well past the bounds of suspension of disbelief if it appeared in speculative fiction. Bird calls getting hit with copyright claims. White noise videos being flagged multiple times by multiple (lol) rights holders. Copyright owners nuking other people’s original creations due to flaws in the auto-moderation. Creators being told the best person to take up a copyright dispute with is… themselves.
Stupid stuff happens. Content moderation at the scale of YouTube (500 hours per minute) is impossible. Software helps but what YouTube uses hurts as often as it helps. The pressure coming down on the platform from major rights holders never eases up. As a result, those facing copyright claims have spent years fighting blind and deaf, with almost no help from YouTube in pushing back against bogus takedown efforts. Abuse isn’t just the name of the game: it is the game.
So, here’s some good news, several years and millions of hours of uploads later, via Jacob Katrenakes of The Verge.
YouTube is updating the way it handles manual copyright claims with changes that should make them much less of a headache for video creators.
Owners of copyrighted content — like a record label or a movie studio — will now have to say exactly where in a video their copyrighted material appears, which they didn’t have to do in the past when manually reporting infringement. That’ll allow creators to easily verify whether or not a claim is legitimate and to then edit out the content if they don’t want to deal with the repercussions, like losing revenue or having the video taken down.
The full rollout is discussed in more detail on YouTube’s blog. It still appears YouTube is struggling to stop videos containing short, incidental clips of music from being flagged by its ContentID system.
We also heard firsthand that our Manual Claiming system was increasingly being used to claim very short (in some cases one second) content or incidental content like when a creator walks past a store playing a few seconds of music. We were already looking into this issue but hearing this directly from creators was vital. We are exploring improvements in striking the right balance between copyright owners and creators.
I’m sure that “striking the right balance” is the correct goal, but the real test of YouTube’s improvements will be where this balance lies. So far, the “balance” heavily favors incumbent industry figures with large legal teams. Fair use isn’t a defense when copyright claims are made and everyone hit with a potential strike is considered to be an infringer. At least now, they’ll be able to avoid strikes a little easier, but the system is still tilted and presumes the claimant is correct and it’s the recipient of the notice who must make changes to avoid losing their income or their account… or both.
This is not to say what’s being implemented here is worthless or unwelcome. This is very much a step in the right direction. Given the history of copyright claim abuse, something had to be done and this is actually, and kind of sadly, more than was expected. This isn’t because YouTube doesn’t want to protect its millions of uploaders. It’s because legacy industry execs don’t want YouTube to protect anyone but them.
This is good and hopefully it continues to improve. Until then, we’ll be here to cover as many abuses of this purposefully-broken system as we can.