Sunday, December 15, 2013

What's happening with major YouTube partners with Content ID claims?

By now you've probably heard about the big hoo-ha about YouTube's Content ID system affecting major affiliated YouTube channel's like Angry Joe, Force Strategy Gaming, etc., and in one case an entire major YouTube channel,, has been completely terminated. So what happened?

Well, first, let me explain how YouTube Content ID system works. Basically its a system that detects via an algorithm whether you have copyrighted content in your video, this is to prevent people from uploading full movies or music to their own channels without the copyright holder's permission. This is an automated system that is somewhat necessary to combat piracy of movies and music, and to protect copyright holders.

As you know, YouTube is extremely cautious about not violating copyright laws, so its very stringent on content creators not to infringe them, hence the automated Content ID system was put in place, and basically for affiliated and monetised channels, if your content is flagged by that system, you lose your monetisation of that channel, and your ad revenue goes to the copyright holder. Also, and especially so, if your Content ID standing is not in good standing on your channel, you lose some privileges on YouTube, one of which is you are not allowed to upload a video that's more than 15 minutes long. 

However, this is where the fair use doctrine of US Law comes in. Basically it allows you to use limited parts of copyrighted material without the owner's permission if it is used for criticism, parody, news reporting, commentary, etc. And when it comes to gameplay footage or let's-players, you can argue that the work is transformative, because the way a person plays a game is completely different from how another person plays the game. But the problem is, at this time, the Content ID system is not smart enough to take this kind of law into account, so it just automatically flags your video even if you have just a small segment of copyrighted material, and because of that, if your channel is monetised, you lose your portion of ad revenue on that video. To the Content ID system, it doesn't matter if you use that portion of the movie or music for critique or parody, you used another person's work, you don't get any revenue from the hard work of the original content you created yourself. Even more stupid, in gameplay footage, your video can get flagged if a copyrighted music track, or like say a boss battle music, is playing in the background IN-GAME, which, needless to say, its pretty ridiculous.  

So how do large affiliated channels get around the Content ID system? They join YouTube's Multi-channel networks (MCN), in which these networks will do the managing of the channels in-house, they will be the ones that will do their internal policing of copyrighted material, and therefore these channels will become YouTube Partners, and are exempted from the Content ID system, at least to my understanding. But in recent weeks, apparently YouTube thinks these networks are not doing enough to police their channels, so it decided to implement the Content ID system to these affiliated channels as well. As a result, many affiliated YouTubers have their videos flagged, and have their monetisation of their flagged videos lost. In some cases, the video is even blocked, depending on what the copyright holder determines on the Content ID system. Even more amusing, in some cases, even the copyright holder is baffled at these automated claims, they said that they did not make those copyright claims, and are working to whitelist those videos.

Now, you may wonder how does this system affected BluJav's YouTube channel? Actually not much at all. Basically the Content ID system has been around since the very beginning, and smaller, unaffiliated channels always have to deal with the Content ID system, counter-claiming third-party content matches on their channels if the content has been used under the Fair Use doctrine, which is actually what I'm doing now. It's just that the Content ID system has only recently implemented on affiliated and networked channels as well, thus even those larger channels are having issues with copyright claims on their videos. Now, I would like to discuss about this issue from a viewpoint of a relatively small YouTube content creator. I'm not a YouTuber who is as big as Angry Joe, or TotalBiscuit, but still, I would like to point out that the Content ID system on YouTube in its current state is still flawed. I am not a networked/affiliated or a monetised channel (at least not yet), and with such a flawed system in place, how does smaller channels like myself get our content out on our channels in time without having to worry about our content getting flagged, and losing the privilege of uploading videos more than 15 minutes on our channels? I've had a video review made and finished more than 2 weeks ago, and to this day its still not available online for your viewing because my counter-claim on my Alien to Prometheus review is still pending until 20th December 2013, which is a heck of a long time, so how can I get my video review out in a timely manner so that you can make informed decisions on our recommendations of Blu-rays? Well, yes, the video is more than 15 minutes long, but I don't want to have to resort to trimming down the video just to accommodate the supposed time limit, nor have to split the video in parts, because I know YouTube's system is fully capable of allowing me to upload videos more than 15 minutes long, as evidenced by my Game Looks, and longer reviews like my Alien to Prometheus review. It's just deliberately restricting me from uploading long videos because the automated Content ID system thinks I'm uploading copyrighted material in full form, thus preventing the copyrighted holder's sales of home videos/movie ticket sales. Well to make clear, I'm not a pirate who make you lose sales by uploading your whole movie online, in fact, I'm helping you promote the awareness of your home video release, making more people aware of your product and helping you get the sales you deserve, whether I'm giving a positive or negative review. As TotalBiscuit would say, if I give a negative review, less people would buy the product, if I don't review it at all, even less people would buy it.

So bottomline, Google and YouTube needs to seriously revise the Content ID system. There has to be a change. Though I'm currently not one of those people, there are people who make a living on your site, YouTube, making content for you to place ads on and help you gain your ad revenue to pay your bills. These are your partners who help create content on your site to make you get to the high spot you are currently standing on. They work hard to make content for you, and you need to protect these people from losing monetisation of their channels. If you don't, these channels are going to go away, like what happened to, one of the top and most popular YouTube Channels, and they are going to either shut down their own channels on your site because they can't afford to pay the bills as a result of your flawed Content ID system that block their monetisation because of a 10-second movie clip they use for critique, or they're going to move away from your service to another video service that does their content more justice.

Angry Joe has brought out a good suggestion on using percentage of copyright content. He's suggested that let's say if you use a 5 or 10 second clip out of the 20 min video, the copyright holder of that clip should earn that relevant percentage of the monetisation, not earn revenue of the entire video, because they do not own the rest of the content, and by right, they should not earn money from content that isn't theirs.

For me, to add on to that suggestion, maybe you would like to take the percentage of the original work into account, like the 10 or 20 second of the movie clip, compared as a ratio or percentage to the whole movie. I suggest this because there are people who upload movies on YouTube in parts, and yes, that particular video is technically only part of the movie, but if 100% of that part/video is copyrighted content, that it needs to be removed, because that is downright not original content, there's no arguing on that point.

I hope this is insightful and informative to both YouTube content creators and viewers, as well as Google and YouTube themselves, and see what can be done to improve the Content ID system. I would like to end off by letting you see two videos made by two YouTubers on this matter, one by Angry Joe, and one by TotalBiscuit. I hope it will help. Enjoy:

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