Here's YouTube's Reply About This Content ID Mess

Here's YouTube's Reply To Angry YouTubers About This Content ID Mess

YouTube is responding to gamers and YouTubers who are upset about the Internet video giant's extraordinarily aggressive new copyright sweeps. We've got a a copy of the e-mail they're sending out below.

You won't see an apology here. You won't see a change in policy. You'll see support for the Content ID system that's been more broadly unleashed on the reviews, features, Let's Plays and other video pieces created by YouTubers and watched by millions of gamers. Many, many of these videos have been flagged of late, blocking YouTubers from running ads on them and letting the supposed copyright holders to these videos run ads instead.

The catch is that many game companies aren't even claiming these videos. In many cases, music licensing companies are, as YouTube's bots catch a piece of matching music — even just a boss battle song or a song playing on the radio in Grand Theft Auto, or sometimes some music licensed for an indie game.

What's YouTube's take?

You will see a recommendation that YouTubers mute the music in the games they're capturing and you'll see what appears to be support for the idea that a music rightsholder can claim that a YouTuber can't run ads on a gaming video just because the music rightsholder has a claim to a piece of music that might run in part of it.

Take it away, YouTube...

Hi from YouTube,

You might have heard about, or been impacted by an increase in copyright claims made on videos over the past week. We're getting in touch to explain what's happening and how you can get back to creating and monetizing great videos.

What's happening Content ID is YouTube's system for scanning videos for copyrighted content and giving content owners choices on what they want us to do with them. Last week, we expanded the system to scan more channels, including those affiliated with a multi-channel network ("MCN"). As a result, some channels, including many gaming channels, saw claims appear against their videos from audio or video copyright holders.

Understanding Content ID claims

Keep in mind one video may contain multiple copyrighted works, any of which could potentially result in a claim. For example a record label may own music playing in the video (even in the background), a music distributor may own a game's soundtrack, or a game publisher may own in-game cinematic content.

Also, online rights are often resold to companies like music labels and aggregators. While you might not recognise the owner, this doesn't necessarily mean their claims are invalid.

Deciding what to do

When a claim is made, you'll see what's been claimed, who's claimed it, what type of claim it is (audio or video), and you can play back the part of your video that it matched. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to act on Content ID claims, and you can find out all your next steps, dispute options, and other troubleshooting resources here.

It's also important to know that most claims won't impact your account standing.

Tips for new videos

If you're creating videos with content from other people, remember that rights ownership can be complicated and different owners have different policies. Be aware of music. Many games allow you to turn off background music, while leaving sound effects enabled. And if you're looking for music you can freely use (and monetise!), check out our Audio Library.

Whether gaming, music or comedy is your passion, know that we love what you do. We've worked hard to design Content ID and other tools to give everyone — from individual creators to media companies — the opportunity to make great videos and earn money. As YouTube grows, we want to make sure we're providing the right product features to ensure that everyone continues to thrive.


The YouTube team

If you're coming in late to this, you should be aware that YouTube's sweeps have snagged a video showing a game that the uploader made from scratch. It's been fooled into diverting ad revenue to people who didn't actually have any copyright claim to the videos that got a Content ID match. Even as some game publishers are rallying to support gaming YouTubers, I hear from YouTubers every day who tell me that their videos are being matched, mostly by music licensing companies whose claims seem narrow and are proving altogether disruptive to the gaming YouTuber scene.


    Creativity should never be allowed to be suppressed in any way, unless Picasso was completely full of shit and we should just give up.

    Congratulations YouTube. Way to not only kill the golden goose but also create an awful omelette out of its eggs.

    Their idea, in theory, seems completely reasonable. Seems a little glitchy though. But I'm all for content creators having their work protected.

      I'm with you. Seems like the right thing to do. If an artist has a song that he licences to the game, that shouldn't mean he misses out on money he would make on youtube from people using the tracks on other things.

        But they're not using the track on other things, they're just playing the game that the musician already licensed his music to and got paid for.

        I'd understand if the YouTube clip was of the musician performing the song i.e. if that was the focus and intent of the clip. But in this case the music is just playing in the background and the real focus is the game itself.

        I mean, where does this end? What if you just shot some perfectly innocuous video of you and your friends hanging around in a public place and a car drives past with some music blasting out the window? Under this policy, that video would get flagged simply because of some incidental music in the background that was in no way the focus of the clip.

          That's just the way royalties work. In Australia at least, any music you write that is broadcast anywhere at an event, festival (even covered by another artist) or a TV commercial, it earns you money, often times even if you've already been paid for the music.

          I think in the case of a car driving past, it wouldn't count, most instances like this (in my experience) would be dismissed by whichever arbitrary force were addressing it.

          The bottom line is that if your music is being played somewhere and someone is earning money from it you're entitled money for it. Most often it's not the people actually playing the music that pay you directly, it comes from APRA who collect fees from everywhere from huge music events, radio stations to businesses that play music for their employees (believe it or not).

          I'd understand if the YouTube clip was of the musician performing the song i.e. if that was the focus and intent of the clip. But in this case the music is just playing in the background and the real focus is the game itself.

          This cuts both ways and used as a loophole to freely use copywritten music. One could also just happen to have a CD playing (or a music video) in the background that matches the gaming video they're making and claim it's not the 'focus of the video' and that it was just incidental and therefore claim the right to use it for free.

          The bottom line is that artists who creat content deserve to have their work protected and not freely taken and used as if it were public domain.

          I know it sounds really harsh, but when you've lived on the other side and scraped together a living from music you've written you're constantly faced with situations where people are trying to use your music for free and most people's attitude is that they can use your music whenever they want without permission. It hurts. When you're a musician you're rights and income always feel like they're in danger. And worse, no one has sympathy for you because they play the "big record companies are rich and it doesn't hurt them" card but the reality is that royalties usually go directly to the song writer and often sustain the artists and put food on the family's table long after the industry has chewed them up and spat them out. When you're on the road working your ass off for 11 months of the year it doesn't feel that black and white.

            But the music isn't getting used for free - it's being played in the game, and the musician got paid for its use in the game.

            I can understand your point if it was applied to, say, a video of GTA V where the person is just sitting there in a car letting the radio run and all the music play, because obviously the only point of the video is to play the music. But if it's going on in the background of game footage in the context or something like a walkthrough / let's play / review / some-funny-shit-that-happened-in-GTAV type video, then the music is incidental at best and is just going on in the background of the game, and the musician has already been paid for its use in the game.

              You have to separate the concept of fees and licensing (which are paid to the record company) and royalties (which are paid to the artist). When Rockstar paid the record company for the music they don't own an unlimited right to use it. Sometimes there's a once off fee, or sometimes the record company gets royalties for every game sold. It's complicated, but Rockstar doesn't have free reign, nor do YouTubers have the right to have that song played simply based on the fact that Rockstar paid them somehow. Regardless of licensing fees to the record company to use music, a songwriter is always entitled to royalties if their song is played in public (unless they've signed away that right). The problem is YouTubers have no way of knowing or respecting the terms of the contract between the record company, the musical artist and Rockstar. I don't care about the record companies, but I do think the rights of the song writers are very often not respected.

              if it's going on in the background of game footage in the context or something like a walkthrough / let's play / review / some-funny-shit-that-happened-in-GTAV type video, then the music is incidental at best

              I kinda agree, but the problem is, who decides if music is incidental or not? How many staff are needed to filter every sample of music and arbitrate how influential the music is to the scene? It's almost impossible. it's such a grey area with too much wiggle room.

              The problem is, both musicians and YouTubers need to be protected somehow. I would suggest YouTube be brought into the fold like any other media. Anyone wanting to have music in their game needs to pay annual fees to APRA, then they list every song and artist that is in their videos (this is how TV and radio do it and if YouTubers want to be big professional media producers this is how the world works, this is how every other profession does it) and then APRA does the rest of the work. They take all the lists of all the music played every year and pay every registered artist depending on how often their music was aired. It's worked like that decades in TV, movies and radio and it's a good system.

              And if YouTubers don't want to pay annual fees to APRA then they just need to mute the soundtracks on games they show. Pretty much every game has the option to mute the music but leave sound effects on.

              Last edited 18/12/13 1:56 pm

                I don't think that not wanting to pay is the problem here, I'm sure a few YouTube content producers would be happy to fairly share their $0.00001/View. YouTube has the facility for proper music crediting (and it's actually pretty easy to use), the problem is that YouTube has a completely either/or approach to Ad Revenue. Content producers don't pay a share for the use of Music, either they get the whole amount that remains after Google's cuts or it all goes to the person who claimed Copyright.

                The second problem would be jurisdiction. YouTube falls under American jurisdiction, so the money would be handled by the likes of the MPAA and RIAA. Money for 'foreign' artists would probably disappear from the system.

                Last edited 18/12/13 2:15 pm

                  Companies like ASCAP (America) and APRA (the Australian equivalent) do collect royalties from overseas. I used to make more from royalties collected from America and paid to APRA (in Australia) than I did from royalties collected in Australia so I know the system works.

                  I don't think that not wanting to pay is the problem here

                  You might be right. In this case I'm responding to the Braaains who was suggesting that the artist has already been paid for their music to be licensed in a game and therefore maybe shouldn't be entitled to further compensation.

                  As I suggested in a previous post, I don't think YouTubers should pay per use, but like any company that broadcasts music, they should become registered APRA members and pay the annual fee and list all music broadcasted and let APRA to the rest of the work. That's fair to me.

            I agree in theory with everything you're saying here. My issue is how ContentID deals with these cases. There have been instances of youtube flagging a 20 second piece of music in a several-minute monetised video review. As a consequence of this, the youtuber who put hours into playing/recording/writing/editing this review stops getting ad revenue as a result of the claim, and instead ALL of the ad revenue now goes to the "infringed-upon" music license holder. That makes no sense, and is indicative of how ill-conceived the whole automated system is.

              ALL of the ad revenue now goes to the "infringed-upon" music license holder.

              Wow, really? I wasn't aware of that. That's pretty crappy and not at all fair. The idea of an automated system that can track copy written material is a good idea, a HUGE time saver, and it's good for artists (and YouTubers alike) who want to make sure their stuff isn't ripped off. But it sounds like really poor execution.

                And hence the whole drama of the issue...

                The automation is borked. Just as an example it will tag even promo trailer footage released by game companies which are subject to fair use and flag content. Heck even audio compilations that you can purchase for use on your own videos are getting tagged. And lets not even get into the fact even most of these big names that have been targeted are usually very very strict in asking permissions for use of footage/material as well

                The biggest issue here is that it not only affects the artists it also screws over publishers and the like because a huge majority of the companies that are tagged as making the claim don't care or want these to happen. So not only do youtubers have to contact the companies to be white listed for every content thats been automatically flagged the companies then have to whitelist/approve said videos and also run a PR excercise to cover for the fall out.

                That's the idea. Noble sentiment let down by short-sighted and idiotic execution.

          The FAQ does mention "fair use", although it also says that in the US any petition has to go through a court and that invalid complaints can result in a strike against your copyright standing. It sounds like you'd be better off editing all your videos to make sure any and all copywritten content is removed.

          On the other hand, it sounds horrible, but I don't know how else copyright law can be applied in Youtube. There are hundreds of millions of videos up on Youtube at the moment and without an automated system there's no way that Google, or the copyright holders, could handle it. I just hope that disputes against false positives or for "fair use" are handled fairly and don't result in any lawsuits

        That doesn't allow for Fair Use of the artistic creation for which the individual actually has a license to use, the musical soundtrack being included in that license. If the individual has used the soundtrack separate to the game, then yes, there is grounds for action. But when used as part of the game's sounds under the Fair Use terms, then no, I don't believe the music owners have grounds for action as the individual has accessed and used that track under the terms of the license agreement with the game company as a part of their product.

          Yeah, I 100% support 'fair use', and while the term has been stretched and abused by gamers, there totally needs to be a case where people can sample anything under the terms of fair use, particularly when reporting on something or reviewing it.

      It's an evolving system.
      I think the hardest part of getting this right is not technical, but in educating youtubers of their rights and those of claimants.

      That's all fine, but this system is allowing people who don't own the material to make claims. Some people are getting their own content claimed by themselves.

        Yup, their system seems pretty broken.

      That's the thing though, it's not glitchy it's just pretty aggressively balanced against YouTube content creators. It's very much a shoot first ask questions later system.
      Also we're not talking about what you and I feel is fair to the artists, fair use is a thing and it falls in favour of a lot of these videos being taken down.

        Yeah, come to think of it, the problem with an automated system is that is makes people guilty until proven innocent. I'm not in favour of that. And I also support fair use when it's claimed properly. It's a really important law.

        Also, it's concerning that video game publishers will decide to not claim against positive reviews but have negative reviews taken down. That's another reason why fair use needs to be preserved. Freedom of speech.

          It strikes me that the ideal implementation is that the automated system suggests videos to youtube staff that look like they're infringing and then the staff review and make a reasoned decision

          This guy is just posting the entirety of GTA5's radio: click yes
          This guy used 3 seconds of Pantera as background music on his title screen: click no

            That's sound logic. But is it practical? I'm not asking rhetorically, I genuinely wonder. How many videos go up with other people's music and content that would need to be reviewed? Would it require a small nation of employees to do so? It's interesting to think about.

              Hypothetically it might convince them to set the standards for infringement a little bit higher to eliminate false positives. That or add some manner of infringement degree into the system. If the system detects specific music in use and it's more than 75% of a given song, that could be a high priority whereas if its 3 seconds then it'd be given the lowest. Unless it's a 4 second song but then I think they're just taking the piss.

              Whilst I have no idea how they do their content matching, implementing basic category derived decision making into a system should be a piece of piss. In fact, the system could be built to query the results of the content matching after the fact so it wouldn't even need to be part of the matching system itself. Hell I've managed to create a decision making expert system with vbscript, I have a feeling google could manage it if they put their minds to it

              Last edited 18/12/13 4:39 pm

                Hmmm, maybe they should hire you. You sound like a clever cookie.

                  Well if anyone from google happen to be reading, I am free...

                You'll work for free? Don't undersell yourself.

                  Heh well it's not like anyone is paying me now and if I fix their content id system then I could make money off youtube

        Once upon a time it was "Innocent until proven guilty" but now days its "Guilty till proven innocent... and then you're still guilty". That's what this Content ID system is

    No apparent acknowledgement of the fact that US 'fair use' and its international equivalents permit the reproduction of copyright works for certain purposes and in certain contexts. What idiots.

      Familiarize yourself on two US agencies: The RIAA and MPAA; they would, and do, work extremely hard to see that "Fair Use" is wiped off the map.

    The solution is really quite simple! When a match is made the system should let the video still run and notify the company itself and then the company can decide whether or not to make the claim! Instead of the stupid system now where it automatically assumes the company will want to make a claim and flags it instantly!

      yeah, but I bet the companies will say that It's not them that should spend the man hours on investigations of their own content. It should be youtubes responsibility. I bet they have already gone through these options. Or at least I hope they have.

        Yeah, you can't expect the companies to spend the time and money sorting that out. YouTube are the one raking in the advertising revenue, it's up to them to take responsibility for their own service. Or, y'know, the real responsibility is on the up-loaders, they should be the ones respecting other people's content or asking for permission to use other people's content. It sucks that no one wants to take responsibility for their actions.

          Actually the irony here is...

          Because of all the stuffed up claims the companies themselves now have to actually divert manpower to fix all the "automated" tags themselves because every YT has to actually contact the company and go "WRY?!". At which point the company then has to white list it from YT.

          Now if it was just one or two flags in a blue moon thats manageable. The ContentID has literally FLOODED all the channels involved. We're talking about... 30+ claims in one day from one user. Now multiply that to the literal millions of users.... 99% of which are utterly ridiculous stuff most publishers/devs would never have bothered with.

          Oh and as I mentioned before... you will find a huge majority of the people who review and whatnot are fairly scrupulous about asking for permission for showing stuff on reviews if their to be monetised. These people do their homework.

    It's an interesting situation. What about the copyright of the authors of the videos, videos that contain their voice and likeness, that these companies are now using without their expressed consent and monetising? Copyright claims go both ways, which was why the takedown policy made more sense, but all Youtube is doing now is setting the scene for a class-action suit against them, closely followed by action against the claiming companies who are now profiting off the ad revenue resulting from the work of these individuals. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying people should be able to profit off the work of others (ad revenue resulting from ads posted in products produced legitimately under fair use terms notwithstanding), but that works both ways.

    You are watching the death of youtube.

      Nah, unless something else comes that's better. Maybe something else takes over. Too many crap video sites out already.

    Last year we were all quite afraid of what SOPA and PIPA would bring to the internet, well now we know what it would have been.

      You should check out what's happening to Killer Instinct. Apparently the download version still requires internet connection and has cancelled tournaments because of it.

      I think the TPP will be bringing most/all of that SOPA / PIPA stuff back anyway.

    Gee, sure is a good thing we have such a robust Copyright system. It's situations like this that show it's really out there protecting our culture, since that's definitely what it's for and in no way is it currently designed purely to protect the commercial interests of big corporations and associations like the MPAA, RIAA and Disney.

    The system is flawed though, it doesn't take into account of parody or reviews. Alot of these gaming channels are free advertisement... And taking 100% of the proffit for a 30 min video with maybe a 20 sec sound clip is ridiculous. I hope they work out the logistics of this a bit better. Content creators are just going to stop, or the quality of the content will also steadily decrease. What ever happened to fair use?

      If someone was producing content that was free advertisement for a publisher, they should contact the publisher, I'm sure they'd be happy for free advertising and be ok with their content being used. No one would pass up free advertising.

      Last edited 18/12/13 4:21 pm

    The fact that people have been making a living by posting footage of themselves playing video games is completely absurd. Perhaps everybody affected by this should accept that their free ride on the gravy-train has come to the end of the line. Don't get me wrong, I watch plenty of gaming videos on the internet, I just think it's complete insanity that people have been generating real, usable money by simply recording themselves awkwardly narrating as they play a game for the first time.
    Take money out of the equation and leave it to the people who do it for the love of it; they're usually better at it anyway.

    sigh. If Google doesn't pull their heads in and realize how destructive this can be then people are just going to up and start leaving.

    Classic Game Room has already pulled out from you tube and wont be upload any more videos and more people are going to start following suit.

      Google is too big. Nothing is gonna happen if they continue.

        Google is too big.

        Youtube however isn't Google. Less big names using the service = less ad revenue

        Less ad revenue = profiability plummets = Google is left w/ a lemon.

        I mean why would someone put in all that effort to make videos for a platform for ad revenue when they get no protection for their work.

          It's crazy how possible all of that actually is if things continue like this.
          Unless I'm mistaken the largest Youtube network is Machinima, followed somewhere down the line by Maker Studios who, while smaller, host the largest Youtuber there is - I don't want to say his name because people (including myself) will hate me - among a heap of others.

          Both of these networks are being affected by the content ID claim-crap atm. Already smaller youtubers are considering other options because of Google/Youtube's constant incompetence and lack of communication, the major thing stopping most is the cost to startup a private service.

          Major networks on the other hand could afford to start on their own if need be. The fact is Youtube needs them more then they need it, Google just seem to be to stupid to realise that.

    The copyright laws are decades out of date when things revolved around selling little bits of plastic with media on them.

    The copyright stakeholders only have themselves to blame for people not respecting copyright law for doing things like restricting imports which is essentially price fixing and creating a monopoly and telling us it was illegal in the past to do things like record a TV show on your VCR.

    I have zero sympathy for youtube let's players. They don't deserve the money they make just for playing someone elses work. Good on youtube for cracking down on this mess.

      Way to be narrow minded. You have no idea how much work people invest in making videos. Many uploaders spend more time working on videos than most people work in full time jobs. If there is a mutual business agreement by both parties (youtube and the uploader) who are you to say they don't deserve the money.

    Just for the idiots who are still trying to defend Google/youtube:
    If you don't realise this new content ID system is broken, you are blind.

    Well, I guess the other way they could have sent a message would be to break into an uploader's home and set them on fire for the camera.

    As far as 'fuck you's go, this one's pretty polite, but it's still a 'fuck you'.

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