YouTube is once again awash in copyright claims with multiple creators reporting that their videos have been removed from the platform at the behest of software giant Microsoft. The latest wave of copyright claims hit mostly vloggers in the tech community and appears to be the result of some overzealous action taken by Marketly, a firm engaged by Microsoft to combat genuine cases of software piracy. The firm reportedly jumped the gun by issuing a slew of DMCA claims against legitimate videos from creators like Chris Pirillo of LockerGnome and Bill Naylor of Frugal Tech, earning the hashtag #Microstopped.
Microsoft has been quick to distance itself from the actions of Marketly. Some creators, including Pirillo, initially believed that the copyright claims were targeting videos critical of Microsoft products, but Microsoft has balked at these rumors. According to a statement released by the software maker the videos were flagged because other users had posted stolen product keys in the comments. Those keys were the real target of the takedown action but the Marketly team overreacted and the videos were collateral damage. In a message from Microsoft’s verified Twitter account the company stated that it was investigating the takedown notices and that Microsoft had no intention of targeting “great content.”
While the fault appears to rest squarely with Microsoft and Marketly, this incident does highlight a major flaw in YouTube’s copyright management tools. Marketly, a firm which clearly has a limited understanding of the YouTube ecosystem, was able to issue dozens of erroneous DMCA claims and have them actioned, resulting in video takedowns. These video takedowns can have a significant impact on a creator’s livelihood. In this case, it seems that the damage will be corrected quickly, but only because Microsoft has acknowledged its mistake. However, while these videos weren’t targeted for their content they easily could have been and the dispute process would have cost their creators months in time and lost revenue. YouTube’s copyright system itself is still ripe for abuse and exploitation.