YouTube Takes Down Live Stream Over Copyright Claim…Before Stream Even Starts

from the precrime dept

It seems that the concern over how YouTube is handling its platform when it comes to enforcing copyright claims is reaching something of a fever pitch. Hell, in just the last couple of weeks we’ve seen a YouTuber have his videos demonitized over copyright claims to the numbers “36” and “50”, rampant abuse of ContentID even as the EU edges closer to making that platform a requirement through Article 17, and wider concerns about YouTube’s inability to enforce moderation at scale in a way that makes even a modicum of sense. The point is that it’s becoming all the more clear that YouTube’s efforts at content moderation and copyright enforcement on its site are becoming a nightmare.

And perhaps there is no better version of that nightmare than when one YouTube streamer found his live stream taken down when Warner Bros. claimed copyright on it… before that live stream had even begun. Matt Binder hosts the political podcast “DOOMED with Matt Binder.” He also livestreams the show on YouTube. The night of the last Democratic Presidential debate, he scheduled a livestream to discuss the debate with a guest.

Earlier in the evening, I’d scheduled a YouTube livestream, as I always do the night of a debate, in order to discuss the event with progressive activist Jordan Uhl after CNN’s broadcast wrapped up. I’d even labeled it as a “post-Democratic debate” show featuring Uhl’s name directly in the scheduled stream title. These post-debate shows consist entirely of webcam feeds of my guest and myself, split-screen style, breaking down the night’s events. Shortly after setting up the stream, which wasn’t scheduled to start for hours, I received an email from YouTube:

“[Copyright takedown notice] Your video has been taken down from YouTube.”

The notice informed me that I had received a copyright strike for my scheduled stream. That one copyright strike was enough to disable livestreaming on my channel for the strike’s three-month duration. If I were to accumulate three strikes, YouTube would just shut down my channel completely, removing all of my content.

Reasonable people can disagree on just how much collateral damage is acceptable when enforcing copyright. What no reasonable person can agree with is the idea that a livestream ought to be taken down and a 3 month stream ban be put in place over copyright on content that hasn’t even been created yet. In fact, were there a perfect antithesis to the entire point of copyright law, it certainly must be this: the prevention of valid content creation via copyright claim.

So, what happened? Well, it appears based on the notice that Warner Bros., parent company for CNN, issued the copyright claim. CNN hosted the debate and Binder’s reference in the title of his stream may have caused someone at WB to think that this was either the stream of the event, which would be copyright infringement, or a stream of CNN’s post-debate commentary, which would also be copyright infringement. This was, after all, a manual block, not some automated system. But, mistake or not, this shows a glaring flaw in CNN’s enforcement of copyright.

“Your case is the most extreme I’ve heard about. Congratulations,” Electronic Frontier Foundation Manager of Policy and Activism, Katharine Trendacosta, said to me in a phone conversation on the issue. “This is the first time I’ve heard about this happening to something that didn’t contain anything. And I have heard a lot of really intense stories about what’s happening on YouTube.”

If there were any question that there are serious problems in YouTube’s enforcement mechanism, this situation answers those questions. YouTube ended up reversing the copyright strike, of course, but the damage in this case had already been done. Binder was unable to stream that night, all because YouTube is so bent towards claimers of copyright rather than its own content producers that its enforcement cannot possibly work without massive collateral damage, such as this.

I suspect we’re going to continue to see these situations arise, until YouTube takes a hard look at its policies.

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Companies: warner bros., youtube

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Comments on “YouTube Takes Down Live Stream Over Copyright Claim…Before Stream Even Starts”

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65 Comments
" " says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, and then get sued to smitherins in the US and EU and probaby some more jurisdictions.

DMCA = if you don’t take down content upon notice you become liable for said content.

EU Copyright = You have to do your best (decided by court) to prevent any infringement (ContentID came to be, based on such or similar laws/rulings)

But yeah, keep blaming Youtube for following the laws they are subject to, and yes EU law (and those of all the member states Youtube offers services TO) does apply for Youtube.

Funny thing is, only verry few take those things to court with the claimant*, because risk or effort is to big, but they expect Youtube to do it (take the risk or effort).

*From the top of my head
Hugo & Jake vs. Ray Comfort
H3h3 vs. Bob Hoss (or something like that)
Jim Sterling vs. Digital Homicide

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Well remember the little discussion the other day about illegal aliens and due process? What about this dmca trashing due process? This is some of the lobbyist legislation Obama sign on his first week on the job? Has no one challenged this? I believe it is unconstitutional whether scotus has or hasn’t ruled on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

It’s called slap suits. it’s just a way of using up a person’s time and money forcing delay on an action that would cause undesirable effects on the plantiff, regardless if the claim is true or false. Eventually forcing the product producers out of business .enforcing them to comply with the system designed to assume guilt while drawing out time proving innocence. Is not security,it’s fraudulent due to the lack of accountability and repercussions of those profiting off the harm to content creators of the social media community. Through a process of empowering the accusers with successful stall tatics. without needing to provide a reason or explaination to prove that it is/or is not copyright,fair use, of content.

Another "Anonymous" Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"DMCA = if you don’t take down content upon notice you become liable for said content.

EU Copyright = You have to do your best (decided by court) to prevent any infringement (ContentID came to be, based on such or similar laws/rulings)

But yeah, keep blaming Youtube for following the laws they are subject to, and yes EU law (and those of all the member states Youtube offers services TO) does apply for Youtube."

But this doesn’t mean that YouTube has to use their current process. A counter-notice from a YouTube creator should be enough to lift the block from the original DCMA or EU copyright notice. Then if the party filing the original DCMA or EU copyright notice wants to file a claim in court, they can go ahead.

This may require a user be "verified" or something similar on the front end, but that just makes it easier to hold any YouTube creator liable if it’s later determined that there was actual infringement.

" " says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"counter-notice from a YouTube creator should be enough to lift the block from the original DCMA or EU copyright notice."

Well that happens in a manner, when the claimant doesn’t reject the contestion of the youtube creator within a given time frame (enough time for the claimant to look at the claimed content and make a judgement of their own), the claim is lifted.

If Youtube would lift the claim immediatly they would make themself liable, considering it would be akin Youtube making a judgement on the topic.
Otherwise Youtube is only the messenger.

Also there isn’t a EU copyright notice as such, just as I said ContentID is based on rulings from EU countries, Youtube has to search proactively for infringing material, all the alleged copyright holder has to do, is confirm that the content in question does in fact infringe on their copyright.

To my knowledge by now most claims come by contentid claim and not by dmca takedown notice, which also would imply that the dmca fair use clause doesn’t apply.

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Bruce C. says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The rejection part is the problem in that scenario. Under DMCA, if the alleged infringer contests the claim, the next step should be for the claimant to go to court using the identifying info provided during the contestation. Youtube shouldn’t be re-disabling contested claims without a docket filing. Unfortunately EU seems to be that the claimant has all the rights.

Another "Anonymous" Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

"If Youtube would lift the claim immediatly they would make themself liable, considering it would be akin Youtube making a judgement on the topic."

I would disagree. (Respectfully, of course) As Bruce C. also mentions, if YouTube lifts the claim, then "Under DMCA, if the alleged infringer contests the claim, the next step should be for the claimant to go to court using the identifying info provided during the contestation."

YouTube has already fulfilled their obligation under the DMCA by blocking the potentially infringing content. Any remaining liability is now on the user who uploaded the potentially infringing content. YouTube would still be on the hook for facilitating contact details for the user, but they wouldn’t have any underlying liability for any infringement.

(*Not a lawyer, just my opinion on how the law should be interpreted)

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: One of those is much more serious in the corporate eye

Well there’s your problem, you were asking them to go after someone for the ‘harmless’ crime of being a racist loser(and violating their hate speech rules in the process), as stories like this show all you need to shut someone down is claim that they have violated The Almighty Copyright, Upon Which Society Itself Rests, and as no crime is more severe they’ll get right on it.

Oh do I wish I could say that the above was even remotely sarcastic…

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: One of those is much more serious in the corporate eye

Easy fix, then – instead of common racism, he can report the profile name as infringing on the uncut version of the board scene in Die Hard With A Vengeance. It’s a sad state of affairs, but while the system exists, might as well abuse it for the general good rather than just watching other abuse it for profit.

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Mononymous Tim (profile) says:

That’s some pretty crappy programming on YouTube’s part right there, to even allow a copyright claim to be filed against something that hasn’t even aired yet.

If I were a programmer, I’d be hard pressed not to ask pertinent questions after the form is submitted, like "Are you stupid or an a-hole or both? You can’t do that to something that hasn’t even aired yet!" then block them from making any more claims for 3 months, and then they’re out for good after 3 strikes. Turn about is fair play.

But YouTube is too much of a suck-up to claimants, especially Hollywood, for that to ever happen.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Depends on the stream, really. If someone says "join me at 8pm for a live stream of a new movie" or "come to my channel to see a live stream of tomorrow’s Super Bowl", then it would seem a little silly to force people to wait until they start the stream before stopping the stream, since they’ve announced that the only purpose of setting up the stream is to infringe.

"As long as YouTube has the largest volume of videos in the online world, it will continue to be the dominant video platform no matter how shitty its policies are"

For good reason, because they stand to lose absolutely nothing by doing that, while they stand to spend a few hundred million more in lawsuits if they don’t.

Frank Cox says:

That’s the sort of thing that can happen when you rely on someone else’s service. If this is intended to be a money-making venture then the streaming guy should get his own service set up to host his own content. Being absolutely dependent on someone else’s service (that can be withdrawn on a whim) for your own livelihood is simply foolhardy.

Not that this copyright claim is anything other than ridiculous but it’s not the first ridiculous copyright claim.

In an ideal world it wouldn’t be that way but you have to deal with the world as it is and not as you wish it was.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Being absolutely dependent on someone else’s service (that can be withdrawn on a whim) for your own livelihood is simply foolhardy.

Being independent takes a shitload of money to accomplish, though. Part of the reason people use YouTube is because the service is free — no having to worry about buying servers, paying for bandwidth, etc. You can call it foolish to depend on YouTube, sure. I’d even agree with you to an extent. But it’s also foolish to expect every single person who livestreams and publishes videos and such to buy all the infrastructure for hosting/distributing their content.

YouTube, like other platforms that host third party content, facilitate the sharing of speech and expression that would otherwise go unshared. I’ve seen art from lots of people that I probably wouldn’t have seen without sites like DeviantArt around. How much speech and expression would you have missed if everyone had to pay for their own servers and bandwith and such to put their stuff on the Internet?

Frank Cox says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s a difference between a hobby and a business.

If it’s something that you’re doing for the fun of it and posting your piano playing or poetry recitation online for others to enjoy, that’s a hobby and if it gets taken down for some silly reason there’s no real harm done other than a greater or lesser amount of inconvenience.

When it’s your business, then it’s not unreasonable to invest in the infrastructure to support that. If you own a restaurant you would expect to have to buy a larger and more expensive stove than you would require if you’re just creating a dinner party for your friends on a Friday night.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

(Swear to God, Mike, y’all need to fix the “reply goes through when you hit Enter in the subject line” thing.)

When it’s your business, then it’s not unreasonable to invest in the infrastructure to support that.

And if the business is just starting out or doesn’t make enough money to support buying an entire infrastructure (in this instance, servers and storage space and ISP bandwidth costs), how can you justify telling someone who makes videos or livestreams content that they need to make that money first before they can offer their speech? I can understand spending some money before doing stuff like, say, streaming on Twitch — that isn’t something with which I’d argue. But to buy an entire infrastructure to do what someone can do with Twitch? Nah, fam, not buyin’ into that shit. I’m watching Maximilian Dood on Twitch right now; do you want me to tell him that he should have to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for servers, bandwidth, etc. before he even thinks about doing another livestream ever again?

Frank Cox says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I don’t think you need to tell anyone that they need to invest thousands of dollars in anything when they can use a free service free of charge to accomplish their objective.

But it’s a free service that can be withdrawn at any time for any or no reason. Is it wise to depend on such a thing for your livelihood? In my opinion (and my opinion alone) there’s a point at which it becomes worth it to pay for a service that won’t suddenly get pulled out from under you. Either you can’t afford to lose it, or you can not. Your choice of platform should be made on that basis.

It’s not like youtube screw-ups are unheard of or new; the facts are on the table and content creators can use them to make an informed decision about what’s right for them.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Yes, relying on third-party platforms is inherently risky. But it’s far cheaper than the alternative, which is to buy servers and space for those servers and ISP connections to those servers and extra bandwidth for those servers and legal counsel for copyright issues and…well, you get the point. And I’m saying “buy and host the servers themselves” because that is the best way to make sure a service going down won’t silence a creator’s speech. You can buy hosting from a hosting company, but like YouTube, you never know when that company might go belly-up or decide not to host your speech.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

"And I’m saying “buy and host the servers themselves” because that is the best way to make sure a service going down won’t silence a creator’s speech"

It’s not really. There’s nothing to stop the data centre where you host the servers or the ISPs who provide the connection deciding to take your service down, for example.

Meanwhile, there are established video hosting solutions out there that have been around longer than YouTube, and are actually less likely to take your stream down since you’re paying for the service and not dependant on the good will of how YouTube’s advertisers think your stream will affect them.

The only way to truly ensure that your stream is available is to use multiple suppliers, selected in a manner where they complement each other and are resilient enough to provide a backup if one fails. But, that’s true of any business – if you depend on a single supplier then that supplier can control how you do business. If you’re able to drop a supplier at any point, you control them to whatever degree that is possible.

David says:

Why was this strike reversed?

YouTube ended up reversing the copyright strike, of course,

Matt Binder said nothing of relevance because the stream was cancelled.

Sure sounds like a blatant copy of the Democratic debate to me. Though Matt had no choice in this; so the strike should be against Youtube, and Youtube should be demonetized for three months.

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