Content ID and the Fall of Original Content

As you may have seen in my post about YouTube’s Content ID system, original content is under fire.

Under fair use law, you’re allowed to use copywritten material if you’re providing commentary on the content, criticizing it, reporting on it, or teaching others about it. However, thanks to the Content ID system that Google has in place to monitor the content that gets uploaded on YouTube, the content that you create is at risk.

YouTube is censoring videos left and right. The last time I wrote about this, the Content ID system was mostly flagging music. I warned that things would get much worse before they got better, and, as predicted, they have.

shutterstock_137361056It Started With Games

The Content ID system is nothing new. It has been used for years to determine which videos are breaking copyright law, sending notices to the uploader, and removing the video from public domain. However, over the past month or two, things have increased dramatically. A change was clearly made in how Content ID works, and hundreds, if not thousands of people, are finding their videos pulled.

  • Joe Vargas, host of the Angry Joe Show, found himself the victim of the Content ID system. When it pulled several of his videos (including one with more than a million views) he posted an angry rant on YouTube. However, he hasn’t been deterred. He continues to upload footage that features games — always with the permission of the developers.
  • Multiple users that contributed “Let’s Play” videos, a series of videos in which they record themselves playing games while laying over a track of commentary, had their videos removed.
  • Multichannel Networks, such as Machinima, were hit, and popular videos were removed.

I ended my previous post with an ominous warning. While this was bad, the damage appeared to be limited, but the underlying implications were terrifying. Things have gone from bad to worse.

shutterstock_157360664

Music Channels Feel the Wrath

Shortly after my post went live, Content ID decided to stretch its legs and tackle what YouTube is most popular for: music. What was strange, though, is that Content ID was flagging original content, as well as music in the public domain. YouTube has created several stars, including:

  • Justin Bieber – Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that YouTube made him. Bieber grew to fame after one of his videos was discovered. In the video, he was singing “So Sick,” by Ne-Yo. Had Content ID, existed then, this video would have been removed and one of the world’s most popular singers would have never existed.
  • Keenan Kahill – Keenan vaulted to fame almost overnight and is well known for lip-syncing along to music videos. He’s turned this ridiculous bit into a net worth of more than $425 thousand. Content ID has not yet hit his videos, despite using actual, copywritten music.
  • Soulja Boy – After creating his own YouTube channel and uploading original music, he gathered millions of views. Today it’s entirely possible that his music would’ve been immediately removed, thanks to Content ID.

Some of the top channels on YouTube use copywritten content in some form or fashion – whether it’s a sound byte or a movie clip, very few have made it famous on YouTube without the aid of someone else’s audio or video.

While I wish I was exaggerating, the threat remains – people with their own, original music are having it removed on YouTube.

shutterstock_156980786I Don’t Use YouTube, So This Doesn’t Bother Me

Well, it should.

Google acquired YouTube way back in 2006 for $1.65 billion in stock. Very recently, Google has turned its attention on YouTube. In early November, they forced Google Plus integration into YouTube, only allowing comments if you have a Google Plus account. They then modified the Content ID system, offering little to no recourse in disputing claims. This is leading to people searching elsewhere for places to host their content.

While it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that Google will expand on the Content ID system. If and when they do, people could claim much more content than they’re already able to – images and text would also be at risk.

This is a Little Scary – How Can I Protect My Content?

A few years ago, you may have been completely out of luck. Today, that’s not the case. Have you ever searched for something on Google and seen a piece of content that said it was removed in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act? If so, you’ve seen someone who opted to protect their content, and now you can, too. The DMCA will help you protect your content, whether it’s a video clip, an image, a song, or your personal blog. If they find another site that has stolen your content, they’ll get it removed.

DMCA offers a free service and a paid service. The free service offers multiple benefits, including:

  • A DMCA badge to display on your site
  • One free takedown per year
  • Ten percent off all future takedowns
  • The ability to block right clicking on your images
  • Plug-ins for WordPress and Blogger

They also offer a professional service. This service, which is $10 per month or $100 per year, features the same benefits as the free service, plus:

  • Do It Yourself DMCA takedowns
  • The ability to export takedowns to PDF
  • DMCA Takedown templates
  • Free image watermarking
  • Website copy scanning and detective tool

If you’re any sort of content creator, and given that you’ve read this far, I’m assuming you are, all of your content should be DMCA protected. Whether your content gets killed by bots or stolen by thieves, you’re protected.