YouTube has spoken … and it doesn’t seem to really understand the concerns of its community.
Yesterday, GameBeat reported that YouTube’s Content ID, an automated copyright-violation-fighting bot, was flagging hundreds (if not thousands) of game-related videos. Popular YouTube users like TheRadBrad, who has 2 million subscribers thanks to his gameplay walkthrough videos, found that the video-sharing site had sent him dozens of emails alerting him of copyright violations. This means that TheRadBrad and other uploaders in the same situation can no longer earn ad revenue for the offending videos — even though they are still available to watch on YouTube.
The weird thing is that many of the titles that are setting off the Content ID are often from publishers that have given the OK for gamers to monetize videos on YouTube and Twitch. Even stranger, the companies listed in the Content ID complaints often don’t own the game in question.
We reached out to YouTube yesterday, and today it got back with what its spokesperson said is the only comment the company is going to provide on the issue:
We recently enabled Content ID scanning on channels identified as affiliates of [multichannel networks]. This has resulted in new copyright claims for some users, based on policies set by the relevant content owners. As ever, channel owners can easily dispute Content ID claims if they believe those claims are invalid.
YouTube’s statement confirms that this is a part of YouTube’s recently announced efforts to crack down on affiliate channels. Previously, affiliate channels in multichannel networks (companies like IGN and Machinima, which work with dozens of creators) could skip the copyright approval process and begin monetizing videos immediately. YouTube wants to start randomly checking those videos the same way it checks every upload from a common user.
While it’s nice of YouTube to let its users in on what is happening, the statement fails to address what its community is actually worried about, which is the fact that Content ID is flagging games that uploaders have full permission to make videos of
Many of the publishers that own the copyrights to games that Content ID is flagging have come out to confirm that they give full legal approval to anyone posting videos of their games online. That’s not stopping titles like Deep Silver’s Metro: Last Light from getting flagged for content owned by an unknown gaming website called “4GamerMovie.” This has left content creators scratching their heads and looking for answers, and YouTube isn’t acknowledging the problem.
Of course, as YouTube’s spokesperson notes, uploaders can dispute claims they feel are invalid, but the fact that YouTube doesn’t even recognize that random companies are making claims is causing many to hesitate on using the dispute option.
@Capcom_Unity What if we are scared to dispute them because the fear of copyright strikes even though it’s clearly not?
— theRadBrad (@thaRadBrad) December 11, 2013
When a YouTube user is flagged for a copyright violation, YouTube simply prevents the uploader from collecting the ad revenue. That’s it. If users decide to dispute the claim, however, they risk getting a copyright strike against their account if they lose the appeal. If one account gets enough strikes, YouTube will completely shut it down.
Many savvy YouTube uploaders rarely appeal a copyright claim because it’s a potential risk, especially when they’ve built a small business around producing and uploading YouTube videos.
This latest Content ID purge is leaving some YouTube users with little choice. They can dispute the claims (and risk destroying their channel with copyright strikes), or they can let the claims go (which could destroy revenue potential). Either way, YouTube’s massive gaming community is starting to look pretty endangered.