YouTube’s New and Improved Content ID System
YouTube leads the video-sharing market with an average of 50 million videos uploaded per day. Years ago, in an effort to curtail the improper use of copyrighted material, YouTube established Content ID, a content management system which automatically detects infringed upon copyright material. Despite its good intentions, the Content ID system received a lot of flak for its bias towards protecting the rights of copyright holder over the fair use rights of video uploaders. After years of controversy over the program, YouTube has recently modified its Content ID procedures and now allows video uploaders to formally challenge copyright holder claims against their uploaded content.
Content ID creates an ID File for copyright video and audio material and stores it in a database. Once a user uploads a new video, the video is checked against the database files and flagged if a copyrighted violation is found. The copyright holder of the flagged material is contacted. Under the old Content ID program video uploaders had absolutely no way with which to defend their work. While video uploaders could dispute the Content ID claim, if the copyright holder rejected the video uploader’s dispute, the case was closed – and all rights over the video were handed to the alleged copyright holder. The copyright holder could then decide to either take the video down or put revenue-generating advertisements on it.
YouTube user Eeplox’s fight over a video of him foraging for a salad exemplified the limitations of YouTube’s ill conceived Content ID system. Eeplox’s field foraging video was flagged for its background music which allegedly belonged to Rumblefish, a music licensing firm. Eeplox filed a dispute explaining that he couldn’t have possibly infringed on any copyright because the ‘music’ in his video was actually nothing more than bird calls in the background. Nevertheless, Rumblefish took advantage and reported back to YouTube that their copyright was indeed violated. YouTube granted Rumblefish full control over Eeplox’s video – giving Rumblefish the freedom to run ads, mute the audio, or simply remove it from the site.
YouTube’s newly revamped Content ID counter-notification and appeals process will hopefully prevent video uploaders, like Eeplox, from being improperly accused of copyright infringement. With the new process, the alleged content owner will no longer be able to summarily dismiss the video uploader’s Content ID dispute and appropriate rights over the video. The content owner will now have to either release its claim over the video or file a formal Digital Millennium Copyright Act notification. Filing a formal DMCA notification permanently removes the video and results in a “copyright strike” against the offending user. The new Content ID process will likely discourage illegitimate disputes and appeals from both video uploaders and alleged copyright holders.