This past December, YouTube flipped a switch that instantly caused havoc with anyone trying to make a better living through video. The change caused their Content ID system to go on an aggressive rampage which left a huge pile of (erroneous?) copyright violation take-down notices in its wake.
Gaming videos were particularly hard hit, including those that were part of sanctioned channels – in other words, people who were given specific permission to do what they do, were slapped for doing what they do. Since removing every potential violation would have left YouTube looking like the shelves the day after the day after Christmas, they resorted to simply removing the monetization option.
Vidders were not happy and they had a right to be mad. Turns out many of the copyright claims were coming in from third-parties who didn’t even have a right to lay claim. What a mess. Even I got hit and I don’t have that many videos!
Now, it seems that YouTube is trying to make amends. They sent a letter out to content producers with a list of changes that should help keep this same thing from happening in the future. My favorite line in the letter: “this introduction didn’t go as we’d hoped.”
Understated, to say the least.
The letter outlines five areas of improvement. You can read the full missive at The Video Ink, but here’s a summary:
1. We’re working with rights holders to ensure that they’re claiming only what they intend to through Content ID.
Meaning the legal department needs to check with the marketing department before they put in a claim. A TV publicist sends me video footage to use in a review but Content ID automatically blocks me for using footage from a TV show. Where’s the sense in that?
To make things more complicated, there are third-parties involved, particularly when it comes to video game music. A band might license their song for use in a game but object to a vidder using it to promote the game. I don’t know why anyone would object to such a thing but if they do, they have a right to pull the video.
2. We’ve briefed our MCN partners on how to fast-track confusing claims to us for further evaluation.
MCN stands for multi-channel network like Machinima – one big channel made up of videos from dozens of individual vidders. Many producers signed contracts with an MCN to avoid getting hit with copyright claims but now it’s as if they’re wearing a target on their backs.
3. We’ve improved YouTube’s song erase and audio swapping tools, which can help if the claimed music isn’t critical to your video.
If you get hit, YouTube will help you replace your music without having to take down and refilm your whole video. Very helpful but you’d think game companies would prefer you use the proper music and not some silly sound-alike.
4. We’ve developed a trouble-shooter to help you understand and address claims. If you dispute a claim, during the dispute process monetization will cease for all parties.
Good luck with that. Has anyone ever won one of these disputes?
5. We are always on the lookout for abuse. Misuse of Content ID is extremely rare, but when it does happen we take it very seriously and investigate every claim.
Now YouTube thinks we’re naive. Really? No one ever files a malicious, phony claim just to mess with the competition? Not a problem if there’s only a handful of claims to investigate per month, but I bet there’s a lot more than that. How long do you think it takes to investigate a claim, a dispute and then give the rights back to the vidder? Does YouTube pay back the money that was lost while the vid was shut down?
People have a right to control what they created but there’s a point – once you’ve put something out in the world – that you’ve got to let go. If someone stole your song and is making money claiming it’s their own – yes, they deserve a takedown. But if an avid video game player or TV fan uses a clip to share their joy with the world – that’s the best kind of marketing there is. Take it and be happy about it. It’s free publicity.