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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Filed Under: contentid, copyright, fair use, monetization, specificity, videos
Companies: youtube

Reader Comments

The First Word

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.

—Mason Wheeler

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  1. identicon
    David, 11 Jul 2019 @ 12:09pm

    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.

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