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.

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Companies: youtube

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Comments on “YouTube Finally Demands Specificity From Copyright Claimants”

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bob says:

what am I not understanding?

Why does YouTube do more than CDA 230 requires anyway?
It’s settled law that they are a platform and not liable for what their users upload. Why don’t they just say talk to the user and bring a court order then we can deal with an infringement claim?

I can understand that when they first started you want to ruffle as few feathers as possible because you are a small company and cant fund an endless stream of legal defense. Also when it originally was just major studios pumping out movies and music for the masses you could probably assume if they claimed infringement it was accurate enough that you could believe them (maybe).

However now they are established, they employ a lot of legal support and have multiple accounts that generate revenue for them. So why would they continue to enforce a bad policy or practice that results in a lot of false positives for infringement and that they are in no way legally responsible for?

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: what am I not understanding?

"Why does YouTube do more than CDA 230 requires anyway?"
Because there’s a clause in the DMCA that says sites can be liable if they don’t take down the accused content within a specific amount of time. Because of this, most sites have a "take down on notice" policy where they take things down while the case is being investigated. The site doesn’t care how the creator is affected because they’re only worrying about whether the accuser will sue them if the content does actually happen to be stolen.

Then there’s the issue of major companies with big teams of lawyers filing claims versus small creators. If you were YouTube (or most sites), there’s no choice- you do what the big teams of lawyers say, even if they may be wrong.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: This change is definitely good for one thing

It does change one thing. It forces the claimant to be accurate to a point where an outright falsehood becomes potent ammo in any future legal process.

In short, if youtube blocks further claims from a repeat offender and said offender later tries to accuse youtube of accessory to infringement they can produce ample evidence that the offender has a record of acting in bad faith.

I think it’s a bit too little – youtube ought to be far more stringent in how they accept takedown notices – but with the background of the shit-show which is the DMCA this may be the biggest step they can take directly.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

This is not to say what’s being implemented here is worthless or unwelcome. This is very much a step in the right direction.

I disagree. At best, this is going to be about as useful as a band-aid on an amputation wound.

We have a system to properly adjudicate claims in light of real evidence and minimize the harm of false claims. It’s right there in the word "adjudicate": the judicial system. It’s not perfect, but it’s far better than any alternative that’s been developed thus far, and DMCA 512 gives the bad guys an end run around it.

The judicial system protects the rights of the accused. The Presumption of Innocence is one of the ground rules: you (and the video you put up) are innocent until proven guilty. Due Process is enforced: you can’t be deemed guilty on an accusation alone; the accuser has to actually provide evidence to prove his case.

DMCA 512 turns the entire thing on its head: the accusation is presumed to be valid without a shred of evidence required! Anyone could take one look at this negation of centuries of Western jurisprudence and say that it’s going to be abused seven ways from Sunday, and many people did, from the very beginning! The DMCA was passed over the objections of people who knew what they were talking about, and now those people are looking like prophets today.

"A step in the right direction" would be the repeal of the DMCA. A further step in the right direction would be replacing it with an act that clarifies and explicitly reinforces the correct principles of the Rule of Law here: no work accused of copyright infringement shall be taken down unless and until it has been ruled in a court of law that the work is infringing.

Innocent until proven guilty is the only acceptable standard here.

bobob says:

Re: Re:

It will help becuse the entity claiming copyright will actually have to sit down and go through a video and identify what is infringing. That requires potential claimants to have to decide if the cost to hire people to review videos is worth the likelyhood of a favorable judgment. Remember, the really abusive claimants are not individuls, but trolling entities who file claims as their day jobs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There is one thing that I think the DMCA got correct. Safe harbor.
Platforms/Hosts/people-who-own-computers should not be liable for user generated copyright infringment unless they fail to comply with authorized takedown requests (And I agree with you, authorization should be from a court, for which the provider is a 3rd party to).

Anonymous Coward says:

Section 512 – DMCA notice requirements:

(ii)Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.

(iii)Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.

They should have been requiring specificity the whole time and bouncing the notices back with "unable to locate infringement" if it wasn’t specific enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

A couple of years ago, there was an argument made regarding how DMCA claims were to be filed. I thought the original rules required all claims must include the actual copyright number issued as to be considered valid.

A shithead lawyer posted an online form used for takedowns. Nothing on the form resembles an sense of a takedown form.

His form? The url.

That’s it. That’s all that’s needed to file a claim to take down a video. No proof of copyright ownership. No proof of actual infringement claims. Just a fucking website address.

Something happened along the way because I absolutely recall the agreed form would have claimaint info, copyright number, site infringing, and how it was infringing.

YouTube may be stepping it up, but they need to go one step forward: it should demand the copyright number of the work(s) being infringed.

Then, Google can set up a "ContentID" system to validate the number to the actual "infringing" content. If it doesn’t match, the claim is rejected.

ECA (profile) says:

This could have been fixed, kinda easy. not so easy..

CR, has a number on each item, device, whatever..
That number is important..
But also, the Rights holder.. Which MAY NOT be the owner of the original product..
So, How do we Show who has the rights and the rights to protect the product.
Why not send the Documents to the CR OFFICE…

But then we have to have Proof of who is Whom..FOR the Gov.
AND the CR office should have the Whole data base of contacts and so forth. And verify it as is..

Just cause I send in a Document saying I have the rights, means nothing without verification…
Lets make this a TRULY fun and hard job…it already is a hard job. But whats the easy way to Fix it…
This could help.

David says:

I think I have a business plan.

I’ll acquire the rights to John Cage’s famous piece "4’33". Then I’ll file a copyright violation against any video containing any amount of silence. Specificity is not a problem and can easily be provided algorithmically.

If necessary, I’ll claim that they used "4’33" as a music overlay for an otherwise spoken audio track.

Anonymous Coward says:

Youtube should say we wont accept dmca claims for 2 -3 seconds of music
in a video which is mainly speech or game play clips .
Every music video is on youtube or vevo,
who is losing money by someone playing 2 -3 seconds of music.
no one.
2-3 seconds of music would be very likely be judged to be fair use if a case was brought to court.

bobob says:

I’m not sure that youtube has the bility to devide what is and is not fair use. Fair use is a legal question that has to be decided by a court. Regardless of those cases which should be a no brainer, should a claimant disagree with youtube deciding that something is fair use (or is not fair use), I would think that could open them up tp being party in law suit by the entity asserting copyright.

Perhaps section 230 would prevent that, but perhaps not. Youtube would no longer be merely hosting the content, but would be making the same legal judgment as the person posting the content, i.e., that what is being posted is not infringing. I’m not saying that this is how it should be, but merely pointing out what it could be.

As for how things should be, in my personal opinion, copyright ought to be limited to 2 or maybe up to 4 years. If it was intended to encourage people to enrich knowledge by rewarding authors, the best way would be to limit their copyright to encourage them to write more frequently.

Also, not allowing an author to assign copyright to someone else (which implies not allowing copyright in a work for hire situation to go to anyone but the person hired to write), would go a long way toward benefitting the person who actually created the content as well as eliminate a lot of the bullshit with youtube.

Anonymous Coward says:

The way copyright is enforced is like telling a doctor that you’re gravely ill while refusing to give a list of symptoms you’re undergoing. Or, to use the law parallel, hauling some sucker off the street and claiming he stole from you without saying what was stolen. That’s the way copyright has been run, which is why we get dumbass scenarios like Viacom expecting YouTube to take down content Viacom uploaded themselves.

You’d think that when reporting theft you’d have to indicate what was stolen, but copyright – for some dumbfuck reason – claims to transcend such mortal requirements, because reasons. This was a step in the right direction, decades after the horse has bolted.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’d think that when reporting theft you’d have to indicate what was stolen, but copyright – for some dumbfuck reason – claims to transcend such mortal requirements, because reasons.

Because, and this idea is strengthened constantly with examples, copyright causes brain damage, such that things that would be blindingly obvious for anything else are suddenly incomprehensible if not flipped completely on their head(like ‘innocent before proven guilty’ turning into ‘guilty until proven innocent, upon nothing but accusation’) the second The Holy Copyright, Upon Which Society Itself Rests is mentioned.

nasch (profile) says:


Win-win for them. Lose-lose for everyone else.

"Win-win" means it’s a win for both parties. So not something that is a win for one party and a loss for another, like in this case.

I guess you’re trying to say it’s two wins for the legacy copyright holders because they got two benefits in exchange for nothing, but that isn’t what the word means.

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