YouTube’s Copyright Protection System is a Total Mess, Can it Be Fixed?


Thread author
Staff Member
Malware Hunter
Jul 27, 2015
YouTube users are becoming increasingly frustrated with the platform's handling of copyright complaints. Legitimate videos are being claimed or removed based on false claims, either by automated mistakes or intentional abuse. Perhaps it's time for YouTube to hold 'abusive' copyright holders responsible for their actions?

YouTube’s copyright enforcement is a growing source of frustration, with many creators complaining about overbroad takedown efforts. The protests have become more vocal in recent months, even though the issues themselves are far from new. We first signaled problems with YouTube’s Content-ID system more than seven years ago. Since then, many examples have followed. Most of these are the result of overbroad flagging, where YouTube finds a copyright match where it shouldn’t. The filters have previously flagged randomly generated audio, for example, or bird chatter. This week we stumbled upon a video with 50 hours of rain sounds which has been flagged by no less than five separate rightsholders. Admittedly, the rain in the video sounds very familiar, as does most rain, but it clearly is unique. While some mistakes are expected to happen, things only seem to be getting worse. Over the past several days alone, dozens of new examples of YouTube copyright problems have appeared. Many of these were brought to the forefront by creators themselves.

Last week the popular musician TheFatRat found out that ‘someone’ had claimed his own song as theirs, effectively diverting the ad-revenue to someone else. For a song with millions of views, that’s not a trivial issue. YouTube does allow users to file a “dispute,” which TheFatRat did. However, the claimant rejected it. The musician could appeal the claim but YouTube warned that he would then risk a strike. If that fails, there’s another appeal option at which point it enters DMCA territory. If a Content-ID claim is appealed the claimant will have to file a regular takedown request. This will result in a strike. The YouTube account holder can then file a counter-notice and if the claimant doesn’t file a lawsuit within two weeks, the video is eventually restored. That’s quite a hassle, to say the least. What doesn’t help is that YouTube keeps referring to false claimants as the “copyright owners”.

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