On April 28, YouTube announced a change to video monetization for videos that are flagged by their Content ID system. This is in response to issues raised by the YouTube community, where this system blocks any revenue they should earn for their content.
Content ID is a system that Google introduced to YouTube back in 2013, which automatically scans all uploaded videos for any copyright-infringing content. If anything infringing is found, the algorithm tags a video to contain stolen content. This is to protect the copyright holder and, on the surface, this may seem like a great idea. However this is accompanied with a few issues.
A couple of the big issues involve the “if anything infringing is found” part. If you are outside recording yourself, for instance, and a car is playing music loudly as it passes by, then your video might be flagged. If you show clips of a movie trailer (that you have permission to use), and add your own commentary to it, YouTube will flag it anyway until it is resolved. There is no good way to add context to the situation. Videos are automatically deemed bad, often with false positives, and may take a long time to contact a human to consider what is really going on and to fix the issue.
In this state of copyright limbo, the creator of the video makes no money. Any ad revenue made is blocked from the creator and diverted to the holder of the copyright automatically. Someone else is making money for your hard work because of a sometimes buggy and uncaringly-severe algorithm. And if you are a full-time YouTube Creator, this can be damning since revenue and viewership is highest in the first few days after upload; and if your video takes a few days to be reviewed for copyright issues, you essentially lose most of that initial momentum. And whoever collected those funds does not have to return them to the creator.
That is the issue that YouTube is addressing; the automatic blocking of revenue during the initial momentum stage.
Youtube’s solution, as laid out in this graphic they provided, adds an extra step to the claim process that makes the process more fair.
Before, if your video was claimed infringing by either Content ID or an actual person, the claim is honored and money is immediately diverted to the copyright holder until any disputed are resolved. The proposed solution works as follows: after a claim is made, and the content creator disputes the claim, then all revenue is held by YouTube and no one earns revenue until the dispute is resolved. Once it is resolved, the money goes to whoever wins the dispute.
This new system allows the initial influx of revenue to still be earned by the creator, if they win.
This is a good start. However, creators still shared some concerns in response to the improvements.
“This is much better than the current system, but I think there needs to be huge changes made to the system to make it fair for everyone.” Min Lungelow, a YouTuber with a channel of the same name, continues, “There needs to be a tangible punishment for false copyright claims to keep companies from trying to silence a message they don’t want heard, or blatantly disregarding fair use in the case of reviews and similar cases. If there’s a strike system for content creators, there needs to be a strike system for copyright holders.”
Will that happen? Only time will tell. However, the fact that YouTube listened to their creators’ concerns, and are doing something about it at all, is a refreshing change and hopefully resolve a lot of current Content ID issues.