YouTube’s Content ID system aims to protect copyright holders but in some cases works against the public interest. After German music professor Dr. Ulrich Kaiser had one of his educational videos flagged, he ran a test which shows that public domain performances of Beethoven, Wagner, and other long deceased composers, are not safe from YouTube’s upload filters.
When HVBA’s webmaster emailed Sony Music to explain that the use of music clips in the lecture videos was fair use, Sony’s representative responded that the label had “a new company policy that uses such as yours be subject to a minimum $500 license fee,” and that “if you are going to upload more videos we are going to have to follow our protocol.” Sony’s representative didn’t say that she believed the video was not a fair use. Instead, she implied that even a fair use would require payment, and that Sony would keep using YouTube’s Content ID system against HVBA until they paid up.
While in previous years people were simply grateful to have somewhere to host their own vides, these days a growing number of YouTube users rely on the site to generate extra cash.
Earning money with YouTube is now easier than ever, with some ‘YouTubers’ even making enough to invest in a mansion.
For others, however, the environment created by the Google-owned video platform is far from perfect, with complaints over the company’s Content ID anti-piracy system regularly making the news. Now YouTuber Benjamin Ligeri is adding his name to the disgruntled list.
In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court for the District of Rhode Island which lists Google, Viacom, Lionsgate and another YouTuber as defendants, Ligeri bemoans a restrictive YouTube user contract and a system that unfairly handles copyright complaints.
Ligeri says that he has uploaded content to YouTube under the name BetterStream for purposes including “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and/or research,” but never in breach of copyright. Nevertheless, he claims to have fallen foul of YouTube’s automated anti-piracy systems.
One complaint details a video uploaded by Ligeri which he says was a parody of the film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It was present on YouTube for a year before a complaint was filed against it by a YouTube user called Egeda Pirateria.
“Defendant Pirateria is not the rightful owner of the rights to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, nor did the Plaintiff’s critique of it amount to copying or distribution of the movie,” Ligeri writes.
However, much to his disappointment, YouTube issued a copyright “strike” against Ligeri’s account and refused to remove the warning, even on appeal.
Day in and day out automated bots detect and report millions of alleged copyright infringements, which are processed by popular web services without a human ever looking at them.
Needless to say, this process is far from flawless, but YouTube’s takedown system is particularly problematic. YouTube allows copyright holders to upload their work into a fingerprint database so matching content can easily be detected.
This results in some rather hilarious mismatches, such as a cat purring video being flagged as pirated music. But there are also mistakes of a different order, where original artists are targeted over their own work.
These include Norwegian musician Bjorn Lynne who has had two of his videos hijacked by Universal Music Group (UMG) which is now running ads alongside his work.
“Can I just state publicly that I hate Universal Music Group. For the second time now, they have hijacked my music and claimed ownership of it in all YouTube videos that include my music, thereby monetizing my music,” Lynne writes.
Apparently UMG has the rights to an audiobook that uses Lynne’s music track “Kingdom of the Persians” as background music. This isn’t a problem, as his music can be freely used as long as the license fees are paid.
However, UMG have entered the audiobook in YouTube’s Content-ID system, and as a result they’ve hijacked the ads on the original video. Making matters even worse, UMG also rejected Lynne’s dispute through YouTube after he explained the situation.
“One thing would have been to have done this unwittingly, by mistake. But I have ‘disputed’ the claim on YouTube, written an explanation and told them about the origins of this music — then waited the FULL 30 DAYS that the claimant has to process the dispute, only to be told that UMG have reviewed the dispute and UPHELD their claim!” Lynne notes.
Week in and week out automated bots detect and report millions of alleged copyright infringements, which are then processed by the receiving site without a human ever looking at them.
Unfortunately this process is far from flawless, resulting in many false and inaccurate DMCA claims.
For regular Internet users YouTube’s takedown process is particularly problematic. We’ve highlighted this issue before, but an example that reached us this week attacks one of the Internet’s darlings, a cat.
Last March, YouTube user Digihaven uploaded one hour of video loops featuring his cat Phantom, purring, as cats do. The video didn’t go viral but appealed to a niche public, and more recently also two major music publishers.
Nearly a year after the video was posted Digihaven was informed by YouTube that Phantom is “pirate” purring. Apparently, part of the 12 second loop belongs to EMI Music Publishing and PRS.
In the copyright notice YouTube states that the cat purring is flagged by the Content-ID system as an infringing copy of the musical composition “Focus.”
YouTube’s ContentID system is again being abused to take videos out of the control of the uploaders. The latest wave of bogus ContentID claims comes from (possibly) Japan’s eLicense, which is seemingly staking a claim to as many Sega-related videos as possible in order to siphon ad money away from the account holders. (via GamePolitics)
One YouTube account holder was hit with over 100 ContentID claims alone, while others have had some hits and some misses. Nowhere on eLicense’s site does it say the company is authorized to make ContentID claims on behalf of Sega. Sega America has since responded to the uproar, denying having anything to do with the hundreds of filed claims.
Regarding eLicense, this company is not working on behalf of SEGA in any capacity. We are issuing a Cease & Desist to eLicense and reaching out to YouTube directly to work on resolving this problem.
eLicense is acting independently and Sega intends to take the necessary action to prevent this from happening again.
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