Game Creator Has His YouTube Video Of Game Demonetized Over Soundtrack He Also Created

from the on-the-money dept

Content moderation, whether over social or intellectual property issues, is impossible to do well. It just is. The scale of content platforms means that automated systems have to do most of this work and those automated systems are always completely rife with avenues for error and abuse. While this goes for takedowns and copyright strikes, it is also the case for demonetization practices for the big players like YouTube.

But how bad are these systems, really? Well, take, for instance, the case of a man who created a video game, and the soundtrack for that game, having his YouTube videos of the game demonetized due to copyright.

Doki Doki Literature Club creator Dan Salvato is being demonetized for his own music on YouTube because the platform claims the soundtrack included in his videos - which he himself composed - is "someone else's content."

Salvato took to Twitter in order to share his grievances. Apparently, his videos have been subjected to demonetization for several months due to purported copyright infringement for the music he used in them - however, Salvato himself composed all of said music, meaning that YouTube is claiming that he is essentially stealing his own intellectual property.

We have of course heard of this sort of thing in the past: a person has videos demonetized despite the content being of their own creation. Still, there is something perfectly simplistic about this case. A game and music maker puts videos up of his own game and music...and it gets demonetized. While no system is ever perfect, that YouTube's system allows for this sort of thing to not only happen, but to go on for months without correction, is an indication that the system sucks and something else should be done.

Now, as often happens, once Salvato complained publicly, YouTube got in touch to investigate. People will point to this as though future rectification made all of this acceptable. But that's absurd. After all, you're forced to wonder just how often this sort of thing occurs and doesn't ever get fixed.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: contentid, copyright, dan salvato, demonetization
Companies: youtube


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2020 @ 8:45pm

    From the original article:

    The exact demonetization message Salvato received surmises that he is actively "repurposing someone else's content without adding significant original commentary or educational value." But it's his music! How much more original could you get?

    We're dealing with a system that flags bird calls and white noise as "copyrighted content". Copyright enforcement is not nearly as interested in actually protecting content creators as opposed to firing their guns in random directions based on what complete strangers tell them.

    At some point we're going to have to reach some critical point and a sufficiently large mass of creators say "enough is enough" and force the system to change.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2020 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      With the number of videos uploaded on YouTube, it is impossible for the content ID system to be perfect. When designing the system, they knew it would make mistakes, so they had to choose if it would be better to have a false positive or a false negative. If YouTube takes down too much stuff, that mostly affects small creators who will likely edit the video and re-upload it. However, if YouTube doesn't take down enough stuff, then big corporations who spend billions of dollars hiring lawyers and politicians will gladly take that as an excuse to try to destroy their competition.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dave, 9 Sep 2020 @ 12:43pm

      and a sufficiently large mass of creators say "enough is enough"

      Only to get ruthlessly crushed by the capitalist dictatorship that has been built up around them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rekrul, 9 Sep 2020 @ 5:04pm

      Re:

      We're dealing with a system that flags bird calls and white noise as "copyrighted content".

      Add insect sounds to the list. I made a 1-minute video of my back window at night, just to show someone how loud the insects were and YouTube flagged the audio as being copyrighted.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Contempt ID, 8 Sep 2020 @ 9:39pm

    Who uploaded the music to conent ID?

    Or was it a DMCA notification or something similar?
    Then who issued it? Shouldn't the issuer be stated in such a claim?

    If it was on Content ID did the creator use different accounts to put in on Content ID and to publish the game video?

    How does Content ID deal with licences? I mean can the uploader mark channels as licencees? If not how is this usualy handled?

    I wouldn't rule out Layer 8 errors on the creator side.

    Or did the creator licence the music to someone else, if so, what were the terms? Like exclusive rights (in a specific area).

    Did he handover enforcements to a third party? If so what was the agreement there?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rico R. (profile), 8 Sep 2020 @ 9:44pm

    Not Content ID, but still troubling...

    I run many YouTube channels, one of which was once monetized before being completely demonetized under the same YouTube policy that this user is allegedly running afoul for. This is NOT Content ID claiming a video using his soundtrack is infringing his own copyright. Instead, what has happened is this person's channel was removed from the YouTube Partner Program, meaning any video of his, Content ID claimed or not, cannot be monetized (unless it gets a Content ID claim, in which case it will be monetized for the sole benefit of the copyright holder, which in this case, is himself).

    The policy he allegedly violated is "Reused content". This policy is not directly related to copyright, fair use, or any other sort of intellectual property violation or lack thereof. Rather, it prohibits uploading videos that reuse other creator's content in some way, shape, or form, regardless of its infringing status. For example, uploading a straight compilation of copyrighted clips without direct commentary, but the compilation is made in a way that recontextualizes the clips with new meaning, could very well be fair use according to US copyright law but would be a video in violation in this YouTube Partner Program policy. Also, uploading a reaction video to YouTube of a film that shows the full movie without edits (especially where there's a lot of sections with dead air apart from the film and little to no commentary by the person) could still comply with the YouTube Partner Program policy but still be considered infringing in a court of law.

    So, what likely happened here is that this user is in the YouTube Partner Program and uploads videos showing the music in basic gameplay video (perhaps for a portfolio) as well as other videos, but the soundtrack is distributed with something like CD Baby or DistroKid, either by this user or the game company he composed the music for. In either case, the distributor submits the music into content ID, and thus his videos with his music get a Content ID claim. It's just a monetization claim, so he gets the money anyway, either through the music distributor or the game company. (In fact, as a musician myself, I know many of these distributors help documentation say not to worry about such Content ID claims, because it shows that it's working and they will get paid for them anyway, just via the distributor instead of directly through YouTube.)

    But then, a YouTube employee checks his channel to see if he's in compliance, and sees a bunch of videos with uncontested Content ID claims for music that's in his video. Thinking that it's simply reusing someone else's music without permission, combined with Masnick's Content Moderation Theorem, and you get this person kicked out of the YouTube Partner Program that did nothing wrong. So, until he gets it cleared up (which the original article suggests it may already have been), he cannot monetize ANY video (barring any video that's monetized via Content ID claims for his music). So, this isn't your typical Content ID horror story, but rather a whole other beast entirely. So, as troubling as this case still is, I still want to clear this up as it might not be as apparent on a quick skim-through...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 2020 @ 11:08pm

      Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

      Yes, I agree that sounds most likely. I believe that ContentID flags with the name of the company that claims the copyright thought to be violated, and a very different message, so I think this is something different.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 9 Sep 2020 @ 2:04am

      Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

      It's just a monetization claim, so he gets the money anyway, either through the music distributor or the game company.

      He doesn't get THE money, he gets SOME money. By the time it goes through the distributor or the game company, what he gets is a pittance compared to what it would have been had he got the money straight from the video.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 9 Sep 2020 @ 4:59am

        Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

        Yeah, that can't be stressed enough. Copyright owner monetising on his own account, vs. 3rd party distributors monetising their streams and giving him his cut? That's guaranteed to be a lot less money.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Nitpicking Anon, 9 Sep 2020 @ 7:24am

        Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

        He doesn't get THE money, he gets SOME money. By the time it goes through the distributor or the game company, what he gets is a pittance compared to what it would have been had he got the money straight from the video.
        The game is published directly on steam via the name Team Salvato, and is free. (with an optional 10 dollar DLC including a soundtrack and some other goodies) There isn't some bigger entity distributing the music, it's just the content ID system making a mess with false claims.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2020 @ 2:17am

      Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

      If a distributor takes over payment management for something they are not distributing, how big a cut do they take? Introducing a middleman into a payment chain always costs the artist money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Rico R. (profile), 9 Sep 2020 @ 10:17am

        Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

        I am aware many distributors do take a cut from Content ID and other revenue streams. It ranges anywhere from 5 to 15 percent. However, some distributors, like DistroKid, don’t take any cut of your revenue in exchange for a fixed annual fee. Without knowing what distributor he used, I can’t say how big of a cut, if any, the distributor got from his Content ID revenue. And if it’s through a game company, I couldn’t tell much of anything as the cut would be determined by the details in his personal contract.

        But the larger point I was trying to make is not how his channel is monetized. The headline and parts of the article could make one think that this is another story of Content ID claiming he is infringing on his own music in individual videos. However, what actually appears to be the case is a YouTube employee, thinking the music used wasn’t his, demonetized his WHOLE channel for violating their reused content policy. That is a much larger and different problem than the story lets on, and I wanted to clarify this to others.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Contempt ID, 10 Sep 2020 @ 10:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

          If it is as you described, then Youtube are simply enforcing the rule, he confirmed he broke.

          By not contesting a claim the creator agrees that he infact didn't have the right to that music.

          So the distributor would have simply given a bad advice to the creator.

          Or are you expexting Youtube to contact thousand of accounts beforehand?

          I think people simply don't get the scale at which Youtube operates.
          Heck even smaller platforms that charge for hosting don't go to all that trouble.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 10 Sep 2020 @ 11:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

            "By not contesting a claim the creator agrees that he infact didn't have the right to that music."

            But, I don't think it's clear here that he knew he had a claim. The article mentions that the account had been demonetised for months, but it's worded as if he's only recently noticed.

            I might be misreading it, but whatever the situation it's rather unfair to penalise something for not fighting a claim they didn't know existed.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Contempt ID, 14 Sep 2020 @ 5:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

              To my knowledge creator get a notification (per e-mail) when they get a content ID hit.

              So if the creator didn't know, then because he didn't pay attention or ignored the mail.

              And just as an idea the creator in question might have written in a manner to downplay his own shortcommings in the process.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 14 Sep 2020 @ 7:00am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

                "To my knowledge creator get a notification (per e-mail) when they get a content ID hit."

                So, they're only notified once, via a passive method that can easily get lost (ever had a legitimate email go into spam?), and no form of notification on the account itself when they log in or use it in other ways? That seems problematic for something so potentially important, especially since Google/YouTube have so many potential ways of communicating outside of email.

                "And just as an idea the creator in question might have written in a manner to downplay his own shortcommings in the process."

                That is true, but until Google issue an official explanation then this is all we have to go on. Since the story is about Google messing something up (no matter how you want to spin it, the author of something should not be penalised for posting his own work), we can err on the side of him being accurate on the timing from his point of view. I'll be happy to take a different view if other evidence is available, but this seems to be yet another case of Google doing the bare minimum to keep legacy gatekeepers happen, and forcing the hard work on to innocent victims.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Contempt ID, 14 Sep 2020 @ 2:00pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling.

                  "no matter how you want to spin it, the author of something should not be penalised for posting his own work"

                  Which would require a change in laws, in the US and EU/member states.
                  Because right now it would get expensive for Google if they got it wrong when it is infringing.
                  And feel free to take that risk with your own money, not someone else.

                  "but this seems to be yet another case of Google doing the bare minimum to keep legacy gatekeepers happen, and forcing the hard work on to innocent victims."

                  Or you know, following the laws to a degree that they don't have to pay (out) more than they make in the first place.

                  If you want a system where people get free hosting for their creative outpout without having to deal with copyright from around the world, you might want communism, problem there of course is, communism has a strong tendency to become feudalism by an other name (all systems do so, unless one could get humans out of all the positions of power and it would still not be guaranted).

                  Of course people also wouldn't get money for their output.

                  So if you want to make money from your creativity, you have to deal with the bagagge that comes with it.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 15 Sep 2020 @ 12:12am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubl

                    "Which would require a change in laws, in the US and EU/member states"

                    Erm, no it wouldn't. Why do you think that a law change is needed to stop false positives?

                    "Or you know, following the laws to a degree that they don't have to pay (out) more than they make in the first place."

                    Which law are they following that you think required them to demonetise an artist for posting their own work? Be specific.

                    "If you want a system where people get free hosting for their creative outpout without having to deal with copyright from around the world"

                    Can you stick with addressing what I'm actually saying rather than erecting such a flimsy strawman? Thanks.

                    "So if you want to make money from your creativity, you have to deal with the bagagge that comes with it."

                    The baggage being that false copyright claims prevent you from making money? You seem to be going in circles here.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 2020 @ 11:05pm

    "Doki Doki Literature Club creator Dan Salvato"

    This might be a wild theory, but is there some kind of false assumption here? That is, someone thought that a very Japanese looking game in a popular Japanese genre couldn't be made by someone as non-Japanese sounding as Dan Salvato? A quick Google search would have told them the real creator, but is that a human moderator making a bad call here?

    "Apparently, his videos have been subjected to demonetization for several months due to purported copyright infringement for the music he used in them"

    That's the main thing that concerns me here. Several months? Does that mean that he only just found out, or that he only just got it such public attention?. The former is very troubling, as it potentially means that the video was in a position to generate a significant amount of money but the author was not informed that he was losing it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Sep 2020 @ 11:13pm

      This might be a wild theory, but is there some kind of false assumption here? That is, someone thought that a very Japanese looking game in a popular Japanese genre couldn't be made by someone as non-Japanese sounding as Dan Salvato?

      Doesn’t matter. The demonetization was most likely automated, and ContentID doesn’t do the whole “context” thing. A human review might’ve caught it before it happened, but only if the human doing the review gave enough of a fuck to look up Salvato’s name.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 2020 @ 11:22pm

        Re:

        "The demonetization was most likely automated, and ContentID doesn’t do the whole “context” thing."

        As suggested by Rico R. above, this might not be a ContentID thing. The results and messages certainly seem different, unless you have other examples that prove me wrong?

        I mean, sure it could still be an automated thing that's flagged this because some more popular Let's Play channel is using similar footage (for example), but it feels weirdly too specific for ContentID to me for some reason.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bwburke94 (profile), 9 Sep 2020 @ 7:01pm

      Re:

      Dan is a reasonable Japanese name. Salvato... isn't.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Darkness Of Course (profile), 8 Sep 2020 @ 11:10pm

    Simple answer

    most of it doesn't get fixed.

    Okay, it isn't a great answer, but that is the case with YouTube, and Google both. Check out Google's fumbling around on ... well damn, techdirt pages.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 9 Sep 2020 @ 2:01am

      Re: Simple answer

      Or Thunderfoot's latest videos debunking corona virus conspiracies. It can be VERY hard to get an actual human at YT to help you out. Thunderfoot finally managed to get a human on YT's twitter account, not YT itself. The YT contact methods never once got him an actual human, just different levels of AI form responses.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Canuck, 9 Sep 2020 @ 5:00pm

        Re: Re: Simple answer

        And it's worse than that. YouTube takes down TF's videos, but leaves up the actual CV-19 conspiracy bullshit videos!

        Wouldn't it be nice if TD would focus on something that's actually important, like Thunderfoot's science/debunking videos being taken down, but no - if it's not some video gamer or brewery, Mike and the rest of the crew ignore it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 9 Sep 2020 @ 11:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Simple answer

          When you've reduced yourself to whining that an opinion blog isn't writing about what you personally want them to write about, it might be time to find a different site.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Sep 2020 @ 12:01am

    Ah, so THAT was what copyright was for...

    ...making sure the actual artist of a work doesn't get paid.

    I'd call it ironic that the mechanisms meant to enforce copyright are so often used to cripple independent artists if it wasn't so suspiciously convenient for the major publishers who lobbied for the DMCA and pressured the platforms to include hair-trigger filters.

    Just one more reason to assume copyright is a mess which can't be fixed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2020 @ 2:21am

      Re: Ah, so THAT was what copyright was for...

      Well, the real purpose of copyright is to make sure that publishers make money off of the work of the actual artists. Those dammed self publishers are just not playing by the rules by not letting the publishers to take most of the profits from their works.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Sep 2020 @ 2:06am

        Re: Re: Ah, so THAT was what copyright was for...

        ...also see the wiki entry for Red Flag Act.

        If your current business model is cumbersome and inconvenient it's probably easier to just pay off a politician to make the law render any less cumbersome and inconvenient business model practically impossible than it is for you to actually change.

        THAT is what copyright was built to accomplish.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 9 Sep 2020 @ 4:16am

    "Well, we created this system... it doesn't work very well, but we like it OK. So, get over it."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2020 @ 5:01am

    But, but, but ... without copyright, how would anyone be motivated to scrape the jam from the bleeding lips of the poor starving artists? How will the jam-scraping profit be large enough to support multinational parasitic organizations or attract sufficiently financially-skilled sociopaths to run them? THINK OF THE ECONOMY!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2020 @ 5:40am

      Re:

      Ah yes, the economy... which the banks fucked up in 2008, were punished with half a slap on the wrist with a wet noodle for, and the US government killed thousands over just trying to jumpstart again for an election campaign.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Sep 2020 @ 6:22am

    The dmca system on youtube was not designed to look for music from 2 sources that is identical,
    eg the publisher puts the music into the content id system, so of course if anyone else puts the music on youtube it will be flagged as infringing content.Do not expect a robot to understand concepts like fair use or the fact someone else owns the rights to the music apart from the game publisher.
    Music rights are complex musicians often license music for tv ads or film,s
    even though they still own the copyright to the original music .
    With millions of videos uploaded to youtube every minute its not possible for a human to check every video re is it infringing ,is it fair use,
    is it content made by the person who uploaded it.
    So of course they had to invent the content id system to comply with the
    dmca law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Kevin (profile), 9 Sep 2020 @ 7:33am

    Sounds like a dark humor...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.