Experienced Points: WTF, YouTube?

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 7, 2016

Filed under: Column 65 comments

My column this week is in regards to the blink-and-you-missed-it protest of YouTube’s baleful Content ID system.

I barely scratched the surface of the overwhelming wrongness of the system. Other stuff I didn’t get to:

1. YouTube doesn’t actually tell you what’s infringing.

What copyright am I accused of violating?

It gives you a timestamp, but it doesn’t give you any information about the source. Hm. They claim I’m infringing at 6:30. Are they talking about the footage I’m using under fair use, or the music I’m using with explicit permission from the author? Or maybe they’re talking about the music, but someone else is wrongfully claiming to be the owner of the music? (Because they uploaded a video that used the music and wrongfully claimed they owned both the audio and video.) That’s three completely different defenses, and I don’t know which one to use because YouTube refuses to give me the context!

Oh, and if I use the wrong defense I’m guilty of perjury!

2. You can’t tell who you’re dealing with.

Who is accusing me?

You get a claim from “Bob’s Media Management”. Is that a valid copyright holder, or some troll who abuses the system? There’s no link to their account, their standings, or anything about them. Maybe Sony hired these guys to manage their IP on YouTube. Maybe they’re independent trolls.

3. Why can’t I contact them directly?

Sure, I expect Nintendo to route all their incoming mail to /dev/null, but at least give us the OPTION of communicating. Make it possible for the rights-holder to do the right thing, even if 99% of them choose not to.

4. They’re building an ugly class system.

This is based entirely in hearsay from YouTubers WAY more popular than me. I’ve heard it many times over the years, most recently from Steven Williams. I have no first-hand experience with this obviously, but the idea is that some YouTube channels get special treatment. They aren’t endlessly pestered with Content ID notices and their videos basically go unmolested. There’s no indication of who is in this special group or how you get there.

This is a sore spot because it seems to indicate that YouTube is aware of how horrible this stuff is, but they’re only interested in helping an elite few, and leaving the peasants fight with the content robots.

5. The whole thing seems almost engineered to be alienating.

I know YouTube isn’t a court of law. It’s not even a civil court, much less a criminal court, so it’s not bound by the rules we might expect when being accused of wrongdoing:

  1. You have a right to know what you’re being accused of.
  2. You have a right to face your accuser.
  3. You have a right to see the evidence against you.
  4. You are innocent until proven guilty.

None of that applies here. Google has the right to run their outrageous system any way they want to and aren’t obligated to follow things like due process. Having said that: Those things are a really good idea in general. These are powerful tools for fighting injustice, avoiding mistakes, and blunting the threat of corruption. Yes, YouTube is free to do what they like with their servers, but they don’t need to turn it into a meatgrinder of mindless autocratic oppression like some over-the-top cyberpunk corporation. They are going so far above and beyond what the law demands, and it doesn’t make any sense.

Think of it this way: They could silently and invisibly make their Content ID system 10% less sensitive. How would that hurt them? More people would put out more content with less hassle. Would Megacorp have any way of knowing? Of course not! And even if Megacorp found out, what could they do about it? Megacorp is always free to have a go at searching for infringing content manually.

There’s no reason to make the vise this tight. It’s hurting people for no benefit.


From The Archives:

65 thoughts on “Experienced Points: WTF, YouTube?

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    TotalBiscuit explains it pretty well(probably because he was studying law).

    Basically,what youtube is doing isnt strictly obeying the law.They are following their own rules so they could avoid responding to actual,properly filed dmca takedown notices,because that would require them to have a human responding to each one,meaning they would have to pay someone to actually do a job.So people should stop giving them a pass because of that.

    Furthermore,giving your money to someone else is them directly breaking the law.But no one wants to sue youtube over this,which they totally should.Heck,if only the creators who were hit by just this last wave of problems decided to sue youtube,thered be one huge class action law suit that would ultimately put a stop to this monopoly.

    But no,youtube is giving free shit to people,so lets have them still maintain the monopoly and not burden them with hiring people to actually do the filtering job.As they should.

    1. Cordance says:

      The bigger channels need to start recording a list of all false copy write clams behind closed doors. Once the list gets big enough take it to a lawyer and start a class action. At 1000 000 false claims from one company the money involved might be enough to make it viable for a lawyer to take on. Then you dont have to go after you tube you can go after the false claims knowing the amount of money falsely claimed. At some point the numbers are going to be jaw dropping staggering and making false a copy write accusation is illegal. Once one company gets hammered by something like that other companies will start considering paying a person to watch the video to check is not a bad idea. $10 an hour for some undergrad student to watch you tube videos all day vs a major law suit every year or so.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        I don’t know, I’m more in favor of going after Youtube.

        The DMCA says that hosts aren’t responsible for copyright violations on their servers, as long as they respond when a claim is filed. The irony of ContentID is, that all of the false-claim scams are copyright violations. I mean, the scammer are stealing revenue from legal content creators and content owners–isn’t that the definition of copyright infringement?

        I have no idea how it’s gotten this bad without a class action already being filed against Google, especially after Lenz v. Universal Music Corp.

        1. Felblood says:


          Is the reason, YouTube is so deaf to these copyright infringement claims from people target by ContentID scams, that they would have to remove the infringing content until things could be sorted out?

          Doesn’t DMCA have some sort of provision for hosts to have an easy channel to report pirated content? Is that an angle that could be used to force them to behave?

          1. Loonyyy says:

            Yep. Part of the Safe Harbour provisions involves having avenues for dealing with infringing content and applying notifications and takedowns. They have to show that they are responsive to these claims, and if they do not, they risk being shut down for hosting pirated content.

            ContentID is covering their asses, because they could totally get hit so hard on this that YT would not be worth it.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Except that those things sent to youtube are not actual dmca claims.Because real dmca claims require you to completely identify yourself and make you liable for perjury if shown to be false and made in bad faith.Also,they require a human to respond to them on the side of the isp,not be an automatic process.

          So definitely go after youtube for doing stuff before even getting a single real dmca claim and siphoning your money to someone else.

          1. Nimas says:

            Yes, but the whole “liable for perjury if shown to be made in bad faith” is completely toothless. There was a case awhile back (last year I believe) where one of the parties in the dispute basically said (though not in the actual case submitted documents) that they issued the takedown to suppress speech.

            Though, if I recall correctly, they lost the case, they were not punished under the perjury provision of the DMCA. I’d link to the article, but alas I haven’t been able to find it, I shall endeavour to find it as proof that I’m not just claiming things out of my ass ><

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Yes, but the whole “liable for perjury if shown to be made in bad faith” is completely toothless.

              It is for youtube,because those “forms” they give you to fill out are bullshit.Because those forms arent really legally binding,neither to the one who is filling them out,nor for youtube.If they wanted to,they could just as easily ignore them all.

              1. Nimas says:

                Found it. Sorry, it was a 2013 case and specifically about a DMCA filing not Youtube, but given I saw an article from latish 2015 talking about the reforms of the DMCA hearings from silicon valley area and one of the major talking points was about making the 512(f) clause have some actual relevance seems to imply that not much has changed since 2013.

                Here is the article.

                Note: this article is from techdirt, who while I tend to agree with alot of their leanings on copyright (especially given they tend to be a bit more numbers driven then others on this) it should be noted is a fairly insular community with obvious leanings. Just a thing to consider with the more editorialised reporting in the article (another thing I prefer, actual flavour :P)

          2. Abnaxis says:

            Whether or not the things YouTube facilitates are DMCA claims is not really germane to my point. My point is that content created by critics, reviewers, and other such fair-use-justified creators should itself be Copyrighted. When scammers siphon off ad money or when angry authors use ContentID to deliberately take control away from critics over their own words, the scammers are themselves violating Copyright.

            ContentID not only allows this to happen, it facilitates the practice of copyright infringement. That means Google should be liable for all that financial damage that is happening to the victims’ channels…

      2. James Schend says:

        The big channels don’t get the claims, because they’re part of multi-channel networks who either hire a guy to take care of claims *for* them, or have a deal with YouTube to exempt them from ContentID strikes. Seriously.

        YouTube does this on purpose, they don’t want their creators with millions of followers telling people how awful their system is, so for those creators they ensure the system’s not awful.

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      It amazes me that a relentless cynic like you has such an unblemished naà¯vety when it comes to the legal process. You’ve kept saying, “Just sue YouTube!” in a way that reveals how vastly you underestimate this endeavor.

      At minimum, do you understand that this hypothetical lawsuit would likely take years to conclude? At minimum, do you understand how much attorney’s fees tend to run for two or three years of litigation?

      You also keep invoking the term “class action” as if it were an incantation, a meta-magic that takes a lawsuit and makes it more powerful. Do you understand why and how classes are typically convened, and how badly the class is typically screwed even by a favorable ruling?

      Finally, do you understand the tight spot one finds themselves in when they sue their means of subsistence?

      1. Matt Downie says:

        Yeah, I doubt there are any strong legal grounds to sue them. To use them, you probably agree to terms and conditions that basically say, “all the ad money is YouTube’s money, and if we let you have any of it you should consider yourself lucky”.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          It doesnt matter what the contract says if its exploitive.You can just as easily sign a contract that would make you a slave,but taking that to court will definitely get you out of it.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        To all of your questions the answer is this:

        Yes,and?How long has youtube been screwing people over?Not just monetarily,but by wasting their time by making them reedit stuff,reupload them,fill out pointless forms.Not to mention the lost nerves over all the hassle.At least with a lawsuit you have something to look forward to for all that effort and torment,but by enduring the status quo you have nothing to look forward to.Nothing good at least.

        And Im not advocating for a class action suit because it makes it more powerful,but because it makes the load shared between numerous people instead of just one.

        This is also not something that Ive started saying recently.Ive been saying it ever since I found out how youtube treats content creators.Meaning for at least half a dozen years now.The answer was always like your “Naw,that would be too hard.Its better to try and talk to them,make them see reason”.Guess what,they never saw reason,they made it worse.But hey,if you dont mind having your job getting progressively harder for progressively less money,thats your problem.

    3. YouTube is NOT A MONOPOLY. Any idiot with a server and an internet connection can host as many videos as they’re willing to buy storage space for. Being a widely-used service does not make you a MONOPOLY. Calling YouTube a MONOPOLY is like saying that Google is the only one in the universe WHO HAS HARD DRIVES.

      So, no, YouTube–even if their policy is crap–is not holding people’s CONTENT hostage. You can buy some dang storage space and host the dang thing yourself if you want to and NOBODY can STOP you.

      What YouTube has is popularity and the ability to get your content in front of the eyeballs of people who might not otherwise notice it unless you wanted to, I don’t know, actually PAY for your own advertising and promotion.

      So what this complaint REALLY boils down to is that people are bitching because a FREE service for which they pay NOTHING and from which they RECEIVE INCOME has DRACONIAN RULES that they (Google) don’t care about enforcing fairly. Of course they don’t care! Because you don’t pay them, but if shit hits the fan, THEY have to pay for YOU.

      Well, there’s a shocker for you. If you want a service to be customer friendly, you have to be a customer, as in, PAY for it.

      Something for all the poor benighted (moneymaking) “content creators” out there to think about . . . maybe PAY for your hosting YOURSELF instead of trusting in the love a faceless machine has for you.

      1. Or, alternatively, start your own hosting service. Why doesn’t anybody do this? Oh, because hosting a (profanity warning) metric fuckton of videos is rather more expensive than most people anticipate.

        YouTube is basically a charity. You don’t go to the free community soup kitchen and complain that the service is slow or that they have shitty paper plates.

        1. Shamus says:

          1. YouTube’s revenue comes from advertising on the original content that these people produce, so likening them to beggars is TOTALLY unfair. If you’re going to use the soup kitchen analogy, then I’d point out that the people eating the soup are also the people MAKING it. Yes, massive cloud server networks and storage is expensive, but so is hiring and equipping literally tens of thousands of video production teams.

          2. “It’s free so you have no right to complain” has always been a terrible defense. I have the right to say whatever I like about the service, and it’s unreasonable to imagine people would just keep their mouths shut when you make their lives miserable and difficult for no reason. Sure, the soup in the kitchen is free. But does YouTube need to spit in every tenth bowl of soup? It doesn’t benefit us or them. Shouldn’t we reasonably point out that YouTube is behaving in a way that’s mutually destructive? Yes, they have a right to run their business however they like. Awesomely, we also get the right to say what we like about it.

          3. Even if YouTube doesn’t care and will never care, these kind of public protests can make people aware of the problem. While a rival video streaming service is unlikely, it’s MORE likely if it’s widely known that a lot of people are unhappy with the current state of things.

          I agree that the word monopoly is basically ruined at this point and is used wrong more often than right.

        2. Felblood says:

          This argument has always had this weird attitude that the customer is always right, and whichever party provides the money in a transaction is inherently superior, and deserving of deference. A real business relationship doesn’t work that way, or at least it doesn’t work well.

          Content creators provide a service to YouTube, in exchange for money, and it’s actually a pretty sucky job, right now. My boss does not become “basically a charity” becasue I’m not paying him for the honor of working for him, and if he copped the attitude that his ability to sign paycheck made him immune to all moral and ethical consideration, you can rest assured I’d have some feedback about that.

          However, there’s something even more deeply troubling at work here.

          Why the Hell should charities be immune from client feedback? The places are funded by donations and subsidies, not the clients, yes, but I assume the people who do fund charities expect the employees to do their jobs well. The job market is still poor enough that there’s probably someone standing in the line with Customer Service experience.

          There’s a lot of problems with the homeless shelters here in Washington, but the volunteers and staff there are very open about what they are doing to improve the situation. Feedback from clients, other charities and other community members are the start of that refining process, and while their time and resources are stretched thin, they find the time to look at that stuff.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Oh please.Thats like saying “USA doesnt have a two party system,you can join any independant party and win”.

        1. Felblood says:

          Also yes!

          Google doesn’t have a monopoly on webservers; they have a functional monopoly on viewers –a service the people provide to them, basically for free.

          The Network Effect is a monster, in this digital age.

    4. Loonyyy says:

      Pretty sure you’ll find that the person they’d have to pay to go over those claims is a lawyer, hence why they don’t want to do it. Paying someone to do it would be more than the total ad revenue.

      If you look it up, Youtube operates on a fairly thin margin. I’m not saying this because feel sorry for them, I’m saying this because this is part of their decision making as it pertains to paying someone to go through the claims.

      There is a MASSIVE volume of claims. Defending all of them is not possible, without losing money. I know that people are pissed that their videos are down, but they’re not even going to get a lawyer to deal with it, because it’s not worth it, what do they expect YT to do?

      Going after Youtube for that element is a mistake and that’s why the requests have been “ignored”. It’s not feasible. Cracking down on fraudulent claims by non-copyright holders however, is a no brainer.

      The ContentID system ensures compliance with the requirements for “Safe Harbour” under the DMCA. It’s not nearly as simple as people are making out, largely because most of them are just YouTubers.

  2. Lanthanide says:

    “There's no reason to make the vice this tight. It's hurting people for no benefit.”

    Sure there is. Sony and others threatened Google that if they didn’t come up with a scheme they approved of, that Bad Things Would Happen to them.

    The rights holders don’t care if everyday peasants on YouTube are hurt. All they care about if their profit, and they believe (rightly or wrongly) that Google’s system needs to be the way it is today (and they’d prefer if it was even harsher, of course).

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      So what if they threatened?Legally,they cant do jack to youtube if youtube abides by the law.All they couldve done was file actual dmca claims and have youtube respond by taking down the offending material,and allowing the content providers to sue whoever made false dmcas for perjury.The only downside for youtube is that they would have to have a few more people on staff to respond to every dmca claim.But considering that those arent as easy to file as this automated bullshit youtube allows now,a dozen people wouldve been more than enough.

      1. Lanthanide says:

        They would be threatening Google, not YouTube (or Alphabet, as the corporate overlord is now called).

        I’m sure Google sells various music, movies and other content created by these studios in google play and elsewhere. Be a real shame for Google if their prices went up, or they weren’t able to sell that content any more, eh?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Nope,cant do that either.I mean you can,but then you get sued for extortion.

          Not to mention a significant chunk of lost profits due to not having your stuff on such a big platform.

          But most importantly,even if you do manage to extort google like that,without dragging the courts into it,google can retaliate in a much worse manner.Be a real shame if your product simply got lost on the page 137/309 of an internet search,eh?

          1. Lanthanide says:

            It’s not extortion, if such existing agreements have dates when they end (which they almost certainly would), so when they come up for re-negotiation, the company can offer much worse terms than previously. This happened a while ago in my country, where a TV station failed to re-negotiate terms with Fox Entertainment for redistribution rights for their TV shows. So for about 6 weeks they couldn’t play The Simpsons or any other shows that came under that agreement.

            Also I think if Google tried to arbitrarily down-rank particular companies that it didn’t like, THEY would be taken to court for anti-trust and anti-competitive practices.

      2. Awetugiw says:

        The “entertainment industry” could (and did) lobby for even stronger laws protecting their interests. If Google hadn’t done something to make copyright infringement harder or YouTube, chances are that some new law would have forced them to do something even more stupid than the current system.

        Mind you, this does not mean Google is free from blame. They probably had to implement some kind of system for copyright holders to easily remove infringing content. But they didn’t have to make the system quite this open to abuse. And the reason that they implemented this system (as opposed to a reasonable one) is, as Shamus mentioned, that there are very few incentives for Google to be fair to their average users.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          The movie industry tried the same shit back when televisions were young.Music industry tried it back when cassette tapes were young.Cd burners were also “the bane that had to be squashed”,and lets not forget the famous napster.So yeah,just because they lobby for stricter laws doesnt mean we should shoot ourselves in the foot to stop them from doing so.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            What really annoys me in the “Google, or YouTube, or company X, had to do it or they would have legal trouble” defense is that it stops there as if that’s the final argument. Yes, when megacorps dish it out legally it usually costs millions even if it ultimately comes to nothing (or not much) and nobody wants to waste that kind of money, fair enough. And I can see whipping out some overzealous content ID bot to placate the copyright holders. But if the service provider wanted to help the small content creators (for which, I acknowledge, they have little to no incentive) they’d treat it as a temporary solution while working on something better, instead they just keep refining the existing system. In fact I distinctly remember several content creators complaining recently that they got hit with a new wave of claims regarding content that’s at least months old, I assume either due to new claimants or due to the content being “rescanned”, possibly with an improved bot.

      3. Loonyyy says:

        The question is, are they obeying the law?

        Specifically, the Safe Harbour provisions of the DMCA.

        See, there is actually law they could be attacked on. They do have to be responsive to claims and takedowns. Suggestions like a “finders fee” are entirely unrealistic, it would make YT liable for violating the DMCA.

        How much they need to do is what they’d be attacked on. That’s the “So What?”. Look up YT’s financials-Google basically runs it because it is great for their image, it’s a flagship website, but it’s not really very profitable. Hence all the problems.

        Yeah, YT profits of the users content, but defending it would cost far more than the users bring in. Complaining that they’re doing something wrong there, that they have to serve you, isn’t going to go anywhere, because it just doesn’t work for the bottom line.

        That’s why the requests need to be reasonable.

  3. Nidokoenig says:

    Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a lawyer.

    “Oh, and if I use the wrong defense I'm guilty of perjury!”

    Well, if you answer an unclear question incorrectly, you should be able to rely on good faith if your answer is reasonable as a response to a sensible interpretation of the question. The usual lawyer thing is to offer every defence you can think of, conditionally, so that you’re not blocked from entering a new one later, but if you’re forced by the system to pick one, you shouldn’t be forced to stand by a poorly educated guess.

    Honestly, the biggest problem is that if you get hit with this, the amount of ad revenue from one video isn’t going to rise to enough to make a case that won’t be thrown out as frivolous due to the low amount of money on the table. I’d say that’s how people get into the protected class, they bring in enough to be able to make a case.

    This is a thorny issue. The whole problem with services like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, is they work orders of magnitude better the closer they are to monopolies, which makes them very vulnerable to being taken over by vested interests. Though solving that issue gets into dangerous territory.

  4. Obviously it’s shitty for a number of reasons, but could they not solve the biggest issue by just holding onto the money until the dispute is settled and then giving it to the winner?

    I can’t imagine how just giving it to whichever asshole comes by and says they own it first is the right way to about it.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Holding the money aside until the winner was declared would indeed solve a good chunk of this. Another big win, would be to penalize people who make claims which are consistently lost. i.e. If Holdings Cold X makes fifty claims, and most are won by the defendant, Holdings Corp X really ought to have some kind of penalty, or limit on future claims.

    2. Mark says:

      > Obviously it's shitty for a number of reasons, but could they not solve the biggest issue by just holding onto the money until the dispute is settled and then giving it to the winner?

      I’d love to know the answer to this question, especially since holding the money themselves is a direct financial benefit to Google. If they’re going to insist on being jerks about this, one would think they’d at least be jerks in a way that enriches themselves.

      1. Loonyyy says:

        Unfortunately they cannot. To do so would mean they would have to dispute the claim on reception, which would mean lawyers, which would mean paying someone to go over every claim, which would run at a loss, which would not work.

        Unfortunately the law makes things more complicated than a simple agreement.

    3. James Schend says:

      Of course they could; one might reasonably claim this is what they should have been doing since day 1. (If your ContentID strike is removed, it doesn’t mean the offended company suddenly somehow lost the copyright, it means *they never had it in the first place*. Simple ethics dictates they escrow the money.)

      Nobody at YouTube gives a crap, though.

      To give them credit: ContentID is much better than it used to be, although still ridiculously far from “good”. At least now it tells you at which timecode the offending content was found, and they added in an automatic audio-mute fuction to mute the offending content if it’s a piece of music. So it does improve. Just at a glacially slow pace.

      1. Chauzuvoy says:

        Escrowing the money was my first idea after reading about the problem. Punishing people who abuse the system or making the system harder to abuse by making ContentID less draconian won’t matter nearly as much in terms of stopping ContentID abuse as stopping it from being profitable will.

        1. James Schend says:

          There’s a HUGE percentage of YouTube creators who don’t contest ContentID matches, either because they never log in to see them, or YouTube’s terribly-written form is scaring them away, or they simply don’t care if another entity gets the money.

          So while escrowing the money would definitely *reduce* the profitability of the scammers, it wouldn’t *remove* it. The scammers would still get the money for everybody they flagged with ContentID who didn’t bother to contest it.

    4. Tyber says:

      I’d guess the problem is that this would make life easier for the people that we’ve established Youtube doesn’t care about, and annoy Megacorp ltd. as it would mean that they no longer make money off content id flagging legitimate use of their copyrighted material. They don’t care if the system allows third party trolling, as long as they can troll harder. Also “Improving our reputation and therefore hopefully our long term sales by fostering the respect of online communities” is a much harder argument to make in a boardroom meeting than “I increased our youtube revenue by 0.1% by turning the content id dials up, we should turn them up all the way”.

  5. Hector says:

    Welcome to the 21st century, where vast, Orwellian schemes wielding incredible, arbitrary power with no oversight, free from the limitations which afflict ordinary men. These mighty forces aren’t being used for cunning evil, but end up being the default of a kind of lax, slovenly laziness.

    [Insert obligatory Microsoft comment here.]

    1. NotSteve says:

      We are living in the future. Which if you were born after 1980, doesn’t mean jetpacks and flying cars, it means a cyberpunk dystopia. And here we are.

  6. Incunabulum says:


    “For the purposes of this example, I’ll call this other party “Rando”. ”

    Rando Calrissian man, fuck that guy.

  7. Content Consumer says:

    We have known each other many years, but this is the first time you’ve come to Youtube for video hosting. Youtube can’t remember the last time you invited Youtube to your house for a cup of Let’s Play, even though Google hosts all of your content. But let’s be frank here. You only ever wanted Youtube for free. And you feared to be in Megacorp’s debt.

    I didn’t want to get into trouble.

    I understand. You found paradise in Youtube. You had a good host, you made a minor living. The DMCA protected you and there were other options available. So you didn’t need a video hosting service like me. Now you come to and say “Youtube, give me back my stuff.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer kickbacks. You don’t even think to call me “Godfather.” You come onto my internet on the day I ignore a legitimate protest and you ask me to do what I promised I’d do – how I promised I’d do it.

    I ask you just to let my videos be seen and maybe make a dime or two on the side.

    What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you’d come to me with decent monetary backing and political influence, I wouldn’t be attacking your content, taking your ad revenue and giving it to random trolls. And if by some chance a person like yourself made content referencing someone else’s content under fair use, you would be protected.

    Be my host, Godfather.

    Some day, and that day may never come, I will provide protection for the little guy and Megacorp alike, But until that day, just bend over and take it.

  8. James Schend says:

    My biggest beef is, no matter how careful you are, no matter how long you go without infringing anybody’s copyright, even if you’ve run the account for years and have hundreds of videos– the instant a ContentID matches comes in, BOOM, you’re instantly guilty. Instantly. Jesus, YouTube? How about a little iota of benefit-of-the-doubt for your long-standing trouble-free creators?

    I actually have a video whose soundtrack was a (public domain, 100% free to use) recording of the 1812 Overture. I had to take it down because every week or two another new YouTube scammer would get behind the reins of ContentID, upload the 1812 Overture, and claim they owned it forever. I got really sick of contesting the constant strikes from it, so it’s just gone now.

    1. Tchaikovsky says:

      I wrote that overture! Stop using it without my permission!

  9. wswordsmen says:

    The worst part of the Youtube system is there is an easy way to improve it dramatically. Have Youtube hold the ad revenue for all contested videos until such time as they are no longer contestable, then pay it out to the video’s rightful owner. Nintendo flags Jim Sterling for 47s of footage in a 10 minute video, they see nothing and Jim will get the money after his counter-claim. It would take a bit of coding, but the infrastructure is already in place for them to do this.

  10. Nick Pitino says:

    “Yes, YouTube is free to do what they like with their servers, but they don't need to turn it into a meatgrinder of mindless autocratic oppression like some over-the-top cyberpunk corporation.”

    Hey man, don’t put all your Nuyen into Pharmakom…

  11. Spammy says:

    Apparently someone at Youtube did release a statement about WTFU.

    Of course I don’t know if that exactly disproves Shamus’ point about Youtube’s silence or WTFU vanishing since he didn’t know about it, I didn’t see anyone else talking about it, and a Google Forum post is the best link to it. And the replies to the post seem to be generally “Stop with the PR promises and fix this” or “Here’s another gross abuse you’re letting happen” or “Here are the solutions to fix this people have been arguing in favor of for years.” And a cynic noted that if the guy’s been a part of Youtube for 8 years he’s one of the people that made this and thus part of the problem.

    But hey, it’s a statement! Hidden away and not publicized on a Google forum.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Man, I was disappointed with that statement. First thing I thought when I read it was, “Gosh, this seems pretty vague, and ass-covery. Will this ever actually result in positive changes to the ContentID system?” Then I see that the third comment is echoing my thoughts, and the first two sounded like friggin’ shills. :C

  12. Primogenitor says:

    How hard is it to host video outside of YouTube these days? I understand that 10 years ago it was tough – but what about now? With HTML5 browsers and cheap and easy cloud servers, how hard/expensive would it be to (for example) put Spoiler Warning somewhere else?

    1. Incunabulum says:

      The main problem is the network effect.

      YouTube is where all the videos are because YouTube is where everyone goes to watch all the videos. Because all the videos are on YouTube.

    2. Zekiel says:

      I understand Vimeo is quite good and doesn’t have the same copyright takedown issues (probably because the big companies are focusing on YT because that’s where the majority of the videos are)

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        Vimeo’s not immune to those issues, but they still happen. Todd in the Shadows had a series of tweets a week or so ago about a claim levied against his Vimeo account (where he posts his videos that get taken down from YouTube). IIRC, the claim was “this video is not your original work”. The difference was he was able to appeal immediately, deal with (presumably) a real Vimeo human being, and had his video back up in a few hours. But he also noted he got that level of service because he had a paid account with Vimeo.

        1. Chris Robertson says:

          Vimeo also doesn’t appear to offer revenue sharing. If you pay for Pro ($199 per year) you can sell, rent or offer subscriptions to your videos.

          According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_video_hosting_services) there are three sites (aside from YouTube) that currently allow “Ad Revenue Sharing”.

          DailyMotion (http://www.dailymotion.com/monetization)
          Tencent QQ (http://www.qq.com sorry, I can’t find the proper link for their program)
          Tune.Pk (https://tune.pk/page/28/partnership)

          From personal experience, vid.me has one in the works (https://vid.me/earn).

  13. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    I just found out I had a bunch of people claiming copyright on my videos I uploaded, and whilst none of them were taken down (and I am fairly sure none had ads, but then again I also use an adblocker), it still shocked me that with my 15 or so subscribers the system still took the effort to claim my content as copyright. >:(

    1. Echo Tango says:

      It has to look at low-subscriber channels the same as large ones. Otherwise people could just keep making new accounts after their old ones get shut down. I suppose they could distinguish between small channels that have been around for a while, and channels that have no subscribers because they are brand new.

      1. Decius says:

        That would just create an arms race of figuring out how to make brand new channels that have been around a long time.

  14. Zekiel says:

    It’s things like this shocking abuse of power that suddenly makes me really grateful of the rights that (as Shamus points out) are written into the mainstream justice system (of the UK, where I live, and USA, as well as a lot of other countries).

  15. Ravens Cry says:

    Another of the problems of the current system is those who use it to silence critics and censor those who disagree. I’ve seen it used this way by moon hoax conspiracy theorists and hoax mongers* as a way of attacking and silencing their debunkers.
    Just another example of how unfair and unjust the current system is.
    *A conspiracy theorist has a shred of honest, if misguided and ignorant, belief, while a hoax monger is just after those sweet conspiracy theorists bucks.

  16. Blake says:

    I really think what YouTube should do is let content producers who can prove their identity, opt out of the content ID system, and instead force the rights-holders/possible-trolls deal with the content producers directly, or else use DMCA to take them down if they feel there is a real case and the content producer isn’t acting.

    YouTube still do what they need to from a legal standpoint, Joe Random still can’t go around uploading whole movies without getting hit by content ID, and people using YouTube as part of their work aren’t worried about having their work taken down by an automated process.

    Everyone wins right?

  17. Blackbird71 says:

    Nitpick alert!

    “There's no reason to make the vice this tight.”



    immoral conduct; depraved or degrading behavior:
    a life of vice.



    any of various devices, usually having two jaws that may be brought together or separated by means of a screw, lever, or the like, used to hold an object firmly while work is being done on it.

    I’m pretty sure you meant the latter.

    1. Shamus says:

      Usually when this happens it’s a simple matter of transposition. I know I meant one homophone but I typed another because it’s more common and so it came up in the muscle-memory slot machine every typing person has running in their head.

      But in this case, I actually did not know this. Somehow I’ve lived for 44 years and never noticed that vise was spelled differently than vice.

      Every day’s a school day.


      1. Shep says:

        Actually, both are correct. Vice is used in British English (which is why I was so surprised at the comment, as I have never seen it spelled “vise”) and vise is generally US English according to the OED.

        Obviously, the other meaning of vice is spelled the same in both countries.

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