YouTube and its copyright trolls

YouTube may be great for hosting content but when ContentID starts to get involved in your videos, that’s when things get messy.

ContentID is a YouTube mechanism that allows copyright owners to automatically assert their claims on YouTube content that belongs to them. The idea is so that people can still freely publish their content on YouTube but won’t be able to make money using someone else’s material without permission. However, this system is prone to abuse and it has been greatly abused by copyright trolls who make random claims to any content that they don’t even own the rights to.

ContentID makes it so simple and easy for copyright claimers to force a take down or silence of an allegedly offending material that it becomes frustrating when it’s done against content to which you hold the full rights or when an artist gets a claim from their label or licensing company when they upload their own work (label agreements aren’t always clear on who’s allowed to do what). The effort to restore your legitimate content can take days or even weeks and you might end up with a permanent record on YouTube’s naughty kids list even is you are successful.

Worse yet, when it’s a major broadcaster claiming your content, which they actually stole, yes, stole, one time for use in their own program. Many broadcasters in Indonesia put together YouTube-sourced TV shows or use YouTube content in their program with zero regards or respect to the actual uploader or content owner and sometimes they file a copyright claim against the source video.

Perplexed? Bemused? Surprised? That’s been happening for years and recently to Kaesang Pangarep, Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s son. His Q&A YouTube video was shown by TransTV in late April 2016 and a week later he received a bullshit copyright claim by the station.

And it’s not impossible for one of your own content to be claimed by multiple claimants even when there isn’t anything close in the video to what they claim to own, like the sound of a police siren for example or sounds made by nature.

Dealing with just one stupid shit like this takes time and effort. Imagine if you have to deal with more than a handful, or maybe a dozen erroneous or falsified claims.

Funny thing is, you see legitimate content creators getting copyright strikes or claims from bogus copyright claimants but you also see scores of content blatantly violating copyrights being freely available on the platform. This remarkable level of inconsistency easily deters people who don’t have time to deal with all the “paperwork” or just unwilling to create new accounts if they keep getting claims. Not to mention those who have invested a lot of resources and money to build their audience.

Twice my content were silenced or removed by YouTube because the background noise supposedly sounded like music. One was actually a bunch of people talking, with no music at all while the other had a fan noise. I’ve also seen people’s GarageBand music get autoclaimed by copyright trolls.

For a long time I forgot why I stopped uploading stuff to YouTube and recently I saw a post on the YouTube community forum about this. The poor guy had a dozen claims in a single day for music he composed himself.

All these issues are why I hardly ever upload stuff there anymore since signing up to YouTube almost ten years ago. Kotaku even did a full, and I mean comprehensive, write up of what this is all about back in 2013 and the issue is still not resolved. Content creators on YouTube are still being trolled by bogus copyright claimants in 2016.

The copyright trolls are still on the prowl and YouTube hasn’t made things easier for content creators. Not everyone has the time or resources to fight back against the trolls.

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