YouTube Streamer Hit With Demonetization Over Copyright Claims To Numbers '36' And '50'

from the wut? dept

We’ve long had discussions about how wide open for abuse and error YouTube’s copyright and demonetization practices are. Between the hamfisted method by which the accused is treated as guilty from the get go, to the impossibility of doing large-scale policing like this in a way that’s even moderately good, to the avenue for abuse that all of this creates, the fact is that YouTube’s stance on copyright is a mess. The end result of all of this is that creators on YouTube operate in constant peril of having their accounts suspended or video revenues taken by others with the recourse for fraud and error being convoluted and lengthy. For a site that is in the business of content creation, that’s a real problem.

And it’s a problem that can get quite ridiculous, as evidenced by one recent streamer who had two videos demonetized over claims by a third party that she infringed its copyrights… on the numbers “36” and “50.”

Now, if you’re wondering who in the world is claiming trademarks on these two random numbers, it appears to be a company in the YouTube content creation business as well. Why they think they own the copyright on those two numbers and can use them to siphon the income of innocent YouTube streamers is anybody’s guess.

The claim, made by media company Fullscreen, was simply over the number “36.” There wasn’t anything else to do with what media they were trying to protect, or any timestamps, just that the number “36” was not AnneMunition’s property.

Fullscreen describe themselves as a “social content company for talent and brands” on their company website. They are owned by Otter Media, a subsidiary of WarnerMedia, who doesn’t hold the license for The Witcher 3, or any trademarks related to the number “36.”

This is problematic for AnneMunition’s YouTube channel, because while claims are active, Fullscreen takes all monetization for the video. While the videos are over two years old, with both having very little views, they still leave a stain on her YouTube record.

Now, I fully expect that YouTube will get this corrected fairly quickly, as there is nearly zero chance that there is anything remotely valid about this copyright claim. But that really isn’t the point. For YouTube’s system and process to so clearly favor the accuser, particularly given how much error and abuse there is in all of this, is not sustainable. At some point, content creators will simply have had enough and go somewhere else. That might be far off on the horizon, but it’s going to come eventually if some kind of change isn’t made on YouTube’s part.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: fullscreen, twitch

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “YouTube Streamer Hit With Demonetization Over Copyright Claims To Numbers '36' And '50'”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
82 Comments
McGyver (profile) says:

Re: Today is the 24th......

You are thinking small…
I’m claiming copyright on “2020”, “2021”, “2022” and “2023”…
Over those four years I’ll rake in enough troll income to afford enough evil lawyers to successfully defend my claim to “42”… which as we all know is the answer to “life, the universe and everything”.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

At some point, content creators will simply have had enough and go somewhere else.

And the copyright maximalists will follow them and force use of a similar system. As without automation, the level of publishing that occurs on YouTube and other sites is not possible. Unless some teeth are added to DMCA and similar laws, or copyright is significantly weakened, this problem will continue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Often the problem is that the creator is a one man band, and need to devote their attention to content creation, and the to the fans giving them an income. Adding administration time, takes time away from the stuff that actually drives their income. Posting their videos to a back up site may not take that much time, but unless they also devote time to promoting that site along with their main site, it becomes little more than an online backup.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: NOW to fix and sudit//

Close, but we take time to Look up the claims..
So that those making the claims have to WAIT for the company to find the data..
It would also force the corps to List and show the CR, and who they have given permission to control the product.

It wouldnt be on every submission to YT, it would be as they get notices and we have to look up the Data on the CR.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Dan (profile) says:

Scamming YouTube creators in this way is more common

I’ve heard YouTube creators battling this problem. Scammers are using this to temporarily divert funds. And they get to keep all they got. YouTube doesn’t try to get the payments back. I would love to blame this all on bad federal law, but YouTube is more at fault for allowing money to be diverted without proof from the alleged copyright holder. It would be easy for YouTube to hold all disputed funds in escrow, until the issue of ownership is resolved.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Scamming YouTube creators in this way is more common

Better still, they should put any money earned into escrow, and then give it to the winner of the dispute. Even better than that, YouTube should fix their dispute resolution system, allow for fair use (even if a determination needs to be made in a court of law) and then remove the content from ContentID if the disputer is found to be wrong. Multiple violations would remove all the disputers content from ContentID. This might work under US law, elsewhere maybe not.

morganwick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Scamming YouTube creators in this way is more common

You are assuming the point isn’t at least as much to put as many barriers as possible to making content outside of the reach of the legacy gatekeepers, to quash "unauthorized" use of IP, or just to flex their legal muscle (because an indefinitely drawn-out dispute generally favors the richer, more powerful party), than to actually claim the money generated by the content.

Mark (profile) says:

One of the worst aspects of YouTube’s copyright claim system is that it has no memory.

I have a video which uses a spoken word audio track that is now in the public domain. There is also a company which sells CDs that contain this track. They have made a copyright claim against my video. I have successfully disputed the claim. But then, a few months later, exactly the same claim was made again, And, again, I sucessfully disputed it. Fast forward a few months, and it all happens again. I’m probably due for a repeat performance fairly soon.

Now, I can understand why the company concerned has made the same claim multiple times. They probably have an automated process in place that scours YouTube for anything matching the content they distribute, and issues a claim any time it finds it. And they have no incentive to stop making repeated claims against the same content, not least because other users of it may, unlike me, not dispute it.

But YouTube’s system ought to be aware that I have already successfully disputed a claim against the audio on my video. It ought to have been flagged on their system that the content is public domain and that no claims are possible.

The fact that YouTube allows repeated identical claims to those which have already successfully been disputed is a major flaw in their system. It should not be necessary for video creators to have to repeately make an identical defence against repeated identical claims.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Mark says:

One of the worst aspects of YouTube’s copyright claim system is that it has no memory.

I have a video which uses a spoken word audio track that is now in the public domain. There is also a company which sells CDs that contain this track. They have made a copyright claim against my video. I have successfully disputed the claim. But then, a few months later, exactly the same claim was made again, And, again, I sucessfully disputed it. Fast forward a few months, and it all happens again. I’m probably due for a repeat performance fairly soon.

Now, I can understand why the company concerned has made the same claim multiple times. They probably have an automated process in place that scours YouTube for anything matching the content they distribute, and issues a claim any time it finds it. And they have no incentive to stop making repeated claims against the same content, not least because other users of it may, unlike me, not dispute it.

But YouTube’s system ought to be aware that I have already successfully disputed a claim against the audio on my video. It ought to have been flagged on their system that the content is public domain and that no claims are possible.

The fact that YouTube allows repeated identical claims to those which have already successfully been disputed is a major flaw in their system. It should not be necessary for video creators to have to repeately make an identical defence against repeated identical claims.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

YouTube allows content providers to upload samples to automatically compare uploaded content to their "property." The obvious missing step is for YouTube to have public domain content uploaded and whitelisted to prevent fraudulent claims, but then, they have no incentive to do this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The obvious missing step is for YouTube to have public domain content uploaded and whitelisted.

Its not that simple, as something built from the public domain gains a new copyright, just copying that is infringement. Also, I can seethe RIAA going ballistic if YouTube allowed that, claiming that it would allow their copyrights to be stolen.

David says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Its not that simple, as something built from the public domain gains a new copyright, just copying that is infringement.

It is that simple since substantive new copyrightable elements are required or there is no standing to sue for copyright violation. Any verbatim reoccurence of public domain material does not give course to a copyright claim.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

True, but that’s missing the point. The issue is that verbatim public domain content (e.g. a photo of the Mona Lisa and nothing else, a copy of a scene taken from the original recording of a public domain film, a snippet of a public domain sound recording) should be excluded from any material submitted for ContentID. The stuff around the public domain material would presumably be copyrightable in their own right, and this wouldn’t exclude new performances of public domain material (such as a recreation of a scene in a public domain film or a cover of a public domain song) from the ContentID filter.

There might be a blind spot where the item would be a compilation or mash-up of several bits of verbatim public domain material with nothing original other than the arrangement, but those have weaker copyright protection, anyways, so I’d be willing to consider that an acceptable sacrifice in favor of having far fewer instances where stuff that is clearly in the public domain gets claimed.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"something built from the public domain gains a new copyright"

Something new built from it, but not the original. If I re-edit Nosferatu with a new soundtrack, that doesn’t give me any copyright claim on the original, just the version I created.

"I can seethe RIAA going ballistic if YouTube allowed that, claiming that it would allow their copyrights to be stolen."

They go ballistic if you play the music you own in the wrong setting. They go ballistic if you stream a single instead of buying an album. Maybe it’s time people stopped caring what they respond to and just do what’s best for everyone who’s not them, or giving credence to their false claims.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

First they came for the language

A couple of years ago i was notified by Scribe to remove a photo posted 10 years earlier, with several others, for violation of Scribe’s Terms of Service agreement. The photo was of pelicans flying over a beach.

When asked why/what, the reply was that i also posted that the picture was taken with a 35mm Leiica, and a woman who worked for Leica (name provided) complained that i had not asked permission from Leica to use the word Leica in my posting (standard practice in galleries is identify the camera).

This was too absurd to argue the point. After years, i quit Scribe and Leica as a customer.

And i did not ask for Leica,s permission to use their name in this posting too!

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: First they came for the language

For the record, this (both the photo and the post) would be a clear case of nominative fair use of the trademark. You’re just naming the tool used to take the photo; you weren’t pretending to represent Leica, passing off a non-Leica product as theirs, or passing off a Leica product as your own.

I totally understand why you didn’t bother to fight, but unless this was a recurring issue, I don’t know that I’d quit both Scribe and Leica over this without having fought over the issue. I don’t blame you for doing so, though.

Anonymous Coward says:

No one should be able to copyright a single no,
or a single word,
Will this company sue every publisher who has the no 50 in a book ?
youtube should have a group to select companys who abuse the content id system.And monitor all the claims they make,
the problem is youtube is the no 1 video website,
if creators go to another website they will get very few views.
Most gamers stream on twitch and put video ,s on youtube too.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

This is actually a fascinating question into the philosophy of mathematics. I know of some people who think that only positive integers up to a certain value are “real” (ultrafinitism), some (like you) who think that all numbers are just imaginary constructs, some who thing all nonnegative integers are “real”, some who extend that to nonnegative rational numbers, some who extend that to quadratic numbers plus π and e, etc. It’s a very deep question that involves questions about, “What separates a something that actually exists and an imaginary concept?”, “What is a number?”, and, “What defines a number?”

It’s a very interesting thought, but I think it is far too complicated, nuanced, subjective, and ultimately inconsequential, not to mention being rather irrelevant to the main topic, to go into full detail here.

I personally think that, for the most part, numbers are fictitious constructs in the same way that words and the scientific concept of energy are, but that there are real world examples of just about all of them in some fashion. I also find the debate, while interesting in the abstract, ultimately rather silly and not really worth arguing over.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well yes, but … fictional works usually involve some typing, upon paper or in bits. Either way there is some physical thing that was done, can’t say that for claiming copyright upon a number be it imaginary or not. Thoughts can not be subject to any sort of property laws even tho I’m sure some think otherwise.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

FTR, I’m well aware that the idea of numbers being copyrighted is ridiculous, and honestly, despite the name, imaginary numbers are no more imaginary than real numbers. I was just playing along with the joke.

Maybe I’m just not funny, or people are so used to my being rather serious that my deadpan humor tends to get missed. IDK. But yeah, imaginary numbers are no more protected than real numbers.

techboycorp (profile) says:

This is the greatest gift I have seen for you guys

Can’t you see the gift available to you with a problem like this? You should see how a problem like this is the key to getting the gift you have wanted for years – for YouTube AND the patent/copyright legislative bodies to change their policies. This should be the kind of story you plant your flag on, because it is so ridiculously revealing of problems with YouTube and copyright. This is a story stupid enough to condense into a digestible bite to feed to media.

Just start banging the drum, guys. They’re playing YOUR song here.

contumacious (profile) says:

Perhaps I’m missing something here?
What’s stopping one of these people from pulling the same trick against the people making false copyright claims?
As a response, they should file a thousand frivolous counter claims against Fullscreen. Every week.
That should keep them occupied for a while.
That’s what I’d do.
I’d give up my life as a content creator, and instead devote all of my free time toward making their lives hell.
And then post it all to YouTube in a series of videos.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
teka says:

Re: Re:

The usual problem is that just the same as patent trolls. These companies make nothing and/or own nothing that you could interrupt. All they have to do is buckshot requests into youtube and free money comes out but if you squeezed them it would somehow turn out that they have as much blood/property/business as a stone and your demands bounce off.

Anonymous Coward says:

This isn’t just random claims.

Employees INSIDE Youtube are allowing this to happen and taking massive (in terms of numbers – each one is a small sum) kickbacks from various copyright trolls, telling them who to target and when.

Youtube needs to start firing a LOT of it’s staff doing this, or the entire thing is going to get swamped by a fairer competitor.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

To my knowledge, with very, very few exceptions, no DMCA claim gets manually checked before removing content, and it’s even rarer for ContentID claims. It’s almost entirely automated until someone disputes a claim. Unless you have evidence to prove otherwise, I have absolutely no reason to believe that anyone in YouTube is intentionally and knowingly allowing fraudulent claims to pass through, or that anyone in YouTube is being bribed at all.

I also doubt that YouTube is in any danger of being swamped by any competition in the next few years or so unless something drastically changes.

Bruce C. says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m not saying that youtube is in danger from competition. I’m saying that small shop content creators are treated this way because a) YouTube doesn’t really have anything to lose if they leave, and b) because they can and in most cases the small content creators don’t have a choice.

Youtube’s long-term strategy is clearly to professionalize, consolidate and control as much hosted content as possible, either under their own productions, buying rights from Hollywood, streaming cable channels and supporting the largest community channels. They’re not interested in the long tail anymore.

Most of the new features in Youtube (Youtube Red, Youtube TV, etc) over the past few years have been directly monetized by fees, and their promotional efforts these days are geared toward the content produced in these pay-walled parts of the platform. A small content creator that suddenly goes viral is out of their control and draws views away from the pay-walled content.

This isn’t a big competitor, but the one part of Youtube’s history that they’ve kept is min-maxing via algorithm. If they’re making more money on the pay-walled content, they’ll drive views towards the pay-walled content, even if it means taking no action to remedy spurious DMCA, content ID or demonetization based on community standards.

Anonymous Coward says:

I would expect that WPBS-TV, as the New York State flagship of the Public Broadcasting Service, would hold copyright on the various letters which have sponsored episodes of Sesame Street over the last fifty years.

YouTube’s use of those letters is clearly infringement. When will they be making a donation to public television to compensate for this tort?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...