YouTube published two posts to the YouTube Creator blog yesterday. The first one addressed Content ID issues for creators and the second one defended YouTube revenue from the music industry.
Content ID is YouTube’s automated system to scan uploaded videos for copyrighted content. This could be either the video (like uploading a TV show) or the audio (a song you are dancing to). When a match is found YouTube will either prevent the content from playing or allow the video to play but redirect any ad revenue from the content creator to the holder of the copyrighted material. There are legitimate cases for Content ID to prevent piracy but there are also fair use and incidental infringement cases. A famous example of this would be the meteor the landed in Russia and was caught on a dash camera. However, the radio was playing and the song playing was captured in the video. Since YouTube does not have an agreement with the copyright holders of that song in all countries, people in Germany were unable to watch this astounding world-wide event on the YouTube platform.
Another case that has been coming up in recent months stems from the abuse of DMCA claims. If somebody does not like a critical review or comment made in a video, they might issue a DMCA claim that says the video is infringing on their copyrighted material. This claim is made under penalty of perjury but so far there has been very little repercussion to making these false claims. YouTube will remove monetization methods from videos under a Content ID claim or dispute is made. With the way videos go viral, this could also be the peak time that a video earns its views.
In the blog post that YouTube made yesterday Improving Content ID for creators, they stated a new method. If a Content ID claim is made against a video, YouTube will act as an escrow service and hold the revenue until the dispute is resolved. Once it is resolved, the revenue will be forwarded to either the creator or the third party.
In a separate blog post titled Setting the Record Straight, YouTube defended itself from the claims of music label representatives and artists that YouTube mistreats musicians. In the post, YouTube defends how it protects from copyright infringement with its Content ID system and provides a lot of revenue to the music industry ($3 billion to date).
The critics are apparently comparing YouTube to streaming services like Spotify and YouTube leans on hard numbers to defend itself. Spotify charges a subscription and customers are listening to hours and hours of music. With YouTube, their revenue is earned through ad revenue and the average YouTube user watches 1 hour of music a month compared to the 55 hours a month that the average Spotify subscriber consumes music.
It’s an interesting argument that provides a bit of transparency to YouTube. It’s hard to feel compassion for the music industry not making enough money from YouTube when it has allowed starts like Justin Bieber, Macklemore, and others to explode onto the scene while some labels stifle fans from being able to make, remix, and share content that increases exposure and sales.