YouTube Copyright Smack-down

YouTube Copyright CasesThe biggest video sharing site, YouTube, recently made changes to their copyright Content ID system which unleashed a smack-down on numerous video game channels. The Google owned company has created a huge spike in controversial copyright claims to channels such as, Let’s Play videos, video reviews and many more.

Some of the YouTube producers claim that the plug was pulled on their content even though they previously had permission from the video game publishers to upload and share the content. Some of the videos have since been restored after the game publishers released the copyright claim, but it still angered many of the video producers. Some of the video producers even referred to YouTube’s Content ID system as being “draconian.”

However, some game publishers are standing behind the copyright smack-down, such as Stephen Totilo from Kotaku games. Totilo says there will be no apologies from him and there are no plans on any change in policy. He also said that he has the utmost support for YouTube’s Content ID system. The videos that had been pulled from YouTube have already been watched by millions of gamers and YouTubers alike.

YouTube sent out emails to the ones that were affected by the copyright change, trying to explain what was happening. The letter said that YouTube wanted to explain things so that they could let them “get back to creating and monetizing great videos.”

YouTube explained that their Content ID system scans videos for any copyrighted content contained within them, and then give the copyright holders a choice of what to do with the videos. Last week the system was expanded and scanned more channels and even included some affiliates with a multi-channel network. This resulted in many video producers seeing claims against their content either from video or audio copyrighted material, or from multiple sources.

Some of the videos affected may have contained a multitude of copyrighted material which any one of them could have been flagged and resulted in a copyright claim. For instance, there could be an audio track of music playing in the video game, but also the background music on the actual video itself may also contain a claimed piece of material. A third claim can be made by the video game publisher as well. If the YouTube production contained multiple pieces of video game footage, claims could come from any single one of all those many sources.

To further complicate the issue, online rights are often sold or resold to companies, music labels and aggregators. If an owner of copyrighted content is not known, it won’t necessarily mean that any claims become invalid.

When YouTube does make a copyright claim, the video producer will see what has been flagged, who is claiming the copyright, and whether the claim is a video or audio claim. Flagged users can even see and playback the part of their video and audio that uses the copyright material.

YouTube’s explanation to the copyright claims goes on to offer some tips to the video creators like shutting off background music of video games. YouTube even provided a link to their own Audio Library where they can access copy-free audio.

The Content ID system is not without its errors. Jonathan Blow is an indie game developer that had one of his own YouTube video creations flagged for copyright infringement, even though he owned and created all the content. Blow’s experience happened a few months ago, and now the Content ID system is carving a much larger path.

Most of the claims of copyright infringement are coming from the music industry and these claims are starting a much deeper controversy. Some experts are saying that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is being opened up to fraud. A fraudulent claim can be made to the copyright which would see the claimants get money from the YouTuber producers diverted to themselves.

As the digital world of online audio and video evolve and change over time, some of the policies and laws may have to change and evolve with them. In the meantime, YouTube continues their copyright smack-down by pulling the plug on many copyright-flagged productions.

By Brent Matsalla