YouTube To Creators On Copyright Issues: Here’s How We Can All Do Better [LETTER]

We love YouTube, but sometimes the tone they seem to effect comes across as … haughty. Maybe it’s just us — they’re an awesome company enveloped by a bigger, more awesome company — so probably we just infer things that aren’t there. After all, they have now provided a myriad of ways that make the communication between MCN affiliates and the corporate hub better — they even lay out their methods in a letter, which was sent out to MCN-connected creators this morning.


To highlight for you, they’ve buffed up their tools for allowing you to swap out songs from your videos — so if an unimportant background track is causing you to lose monetization, you can change that with their YouTube Audio Library, a royalty-free bank of songs that can be accessed for use with anything. Also, no longer do you have to reactivate your account for monetization — if a claim goes your way, YouTube will handle the heavy lifting and reset it for you. Of course, if you can’t figure out why your video isn’t making money, YouTube now has a troubleshooter guide that can break down and simplify what your Content ID issues might be. See? All that sounds really good. And nice. And benevolent. After all, if it wasn’t for their invaluable Content ID system, which YouTube unleashes like the Kraken, a lot of creators wouldn’t have channels. The Content ID system beats being unemployed, right?

That’s the thing that rubs me the wrong way. Yes, YouTube admits they could have handled the Content ID release in December better — probably by sending out a letter akin to this one. But YouTube is equally as culpable in growing off the misuse of content that allowed early MCNs and creators to thrive. In fact, they still benefit by it because they make their nut whether you do or the actual copyright holder does. For YouTube, this whole sitch is win-win. And so for them to send out a chipper letter announcing, “Hey peeps, here’s how you can not screw up in the future …” I dunno. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


The entire letter is below. If you disagree with me (and you very well might) let me know that I am wrong (entirely possible). I see this as a dialogue between all of us, and as such there aren’t any right or wrong answers.

Dear YouTuber –

Your creativity and talent is the heart and soul of YouTube and we’ve been blown away watching you build, create and grow. As this growth accelerates we need to make sure we have the right policies and systems in place so that everyone — creators like you and the networks you work with — can thrive on YouTube.

One change we made in December involved running Content ID on MCN-affiliated channels. Content ID is the system that balances the interests of people uploading videos with rights holders whose content might be included in them. These rights holders overwhelmingly allow videos to remain live on YouTube in part because this allows them to generate ad revenue. Because of this, creators around the world are empowered to remix, curate and celebrate content in ways that might otherwise require individual licenses, or even result in full-blown copyright takedown notices and lawsuits.

That said, this introduction didn’t go as we hoped and we left some of our community feeling frustrated and confused. We received a lot of feedback, and slowed the introduction to address some of these concerns. As we continue to roll out Content ID on new uploads by MCN-affiliated channels, and gradually with all videos, we’re making you aware of the following changes:

First, we’re working with rights holders to ensure that they’re claiming only what they intend to through Content ID. Many rights holders are supportive of YouTube creators. We’ve been working with them to help them clarify who owns what, for example in game soundtracks, so we can disable any outdated Content ID references. We are also requiring certain rights holders to perform in-depth audits of their references before they can make any new claims. While these measures will help reduce erroneous claims, please keep in mind that content usage policies vary and that game publishers, for example, do not always control the rights to all of the music in their games.

Second, we’ve briefed our MCN partners on how to fast-track confusing claims to us for further evaluation. If you notice a discrepancy between what rights holders are saying and claims being made, please let your MCN know.

Third, we’ve improved YouTube’s song erase and audio swapping tools, which can help if the claimed music isn’t critical to your video. We also encourage you to take advantage of the YouTube Audio Library — royalty-free tracks you can use for free, forever, for any content you make (not just YouTube videos).

Fourth, we’ve developed a trouble-shooter to help you understand and address claims. If you dispute a claim, during the dispute process monetization will cease for all parties. However, as soon as a video is eligible to be monetized again, we’ll do that automatically and email you letting you know.

Finally, we are always on the lookout for abuse. Misuse of Content ID is extremely rare, but when it does happen we take it very seriously and investigate every claim.

While you’re busy making YouTube awesome, we’re working hard not only on these internal changes but across the industry to encourage innovation and keep allowing your creativity to flourish.

The YouTube Team

Here’s some more YouTube food-for-thought:

Content Police: YouTube Recruits Nearly 200 Secret ‘Super Flaggers’ To Monitor Sex, Drugs And Bullying

Jeff Price & Audiam Just Raised $2 Million; their Mission: Blend YouTube, Music & Money

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