Intellectual Property

After Complaints, YouTube Updates Automated Copyright Enforcement

Fewer pointless takedowns, we can hope?

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From its inception, YouTube's algorithmic copyright cop, Content ID, has been rife with problems — at least from the user's perspective. Overbroad takedowns, a confusing dispute process, and little in the way of accountability turned the "filter" into an easy censorship tool. On Wednesday, however, YouTube announced several changes that should help users fight back against bogus takedowns, and help prevent those takedowns in the first place.

The Content ID system works by scanning videos on the site for content matching one or more of the over 10 million registered samples that partners have provided to YouTube. In the case of a match, it follows the "business rules" set by the assigned rightsholder, which can include blocking or "monetizing" the upload. If a rightsholder has requested a block, viewers see the familiar error message that indicates that the video has been pulled for copyright reasons. If the business rules are set to "monetize" the video, YouTube gives the rightsholder a portion of the revenue generated from ads run alongside the video.