YouTube’s New Content ID System is Destroying Content

At some point over the past 48 hours, someone at Google flipped a switch that caused an enormous rift in the gaming community. They implemented a new Content ID system, and as a result, many people are seeing their videos removed from YouTube. While it may not seem like a big deal, the underlying implications are terrifying.

If you’re not familiar with the situation, here’s a crash course: When games come out, people are hesitant to spend money on them. This is where YouTube comes in. People will make “Let’s Play!” videos, where they literally film the game with a screen capturing video.

For example:

To protect their content under Fair Use law, they’ll add a commentary track. This has always fallen under a sort of moral grey area between the players and the publishers as they’re technically making money off of content that isn’t theirs. The publishers don’t want to do anything though because these channels are driving in thousands, if not millions of viewers, and they’re seeing sales because of it.

Earlier this week, Google and YouTube went live with their new Content ID system, and, as a result, many videos are being pulled off of YouTube. Even the larger channels have been impacted, like Machinima, a channel with more than 10 million subscribers. There’s two twists to this story, though.

1. Some Videos are Wrongly Flagged

Some users are experiencing false claims. These false claims are causing videos to be removed without explanation, forcing users to dispute the claims. Developers are investigating every false claim being made.

2. Publishers are Siding with Content Creators

The other twist is that some of these publishers are siding with the content creators. For instance, Capcom, creator of the popular Street Fighter gaming series, is investigating content claims.  Deep Silver, the company that picked up the Saints Row and Metro game IP’s when THQ went bankrupt, is personally helping anyone that had their videos removed. Blizzard, creator of the extremely popular Diablo series, is also helping YouTube users get their content back. Rebellion, creators of the Sniper Elite series, is fully committed to getting videos featuring their games back on the site.

What this Means for Non-Gamers

No big deal, right? A couple of video game channels had their content pulled. The world will live to see another day. You’re wrong. This changes everything.

If you want a first hand account of the impact this change has caused, check out Angry Joe’s profanity-laced, passionate explanation of the change that this is currently happening. Angry Joe personally had some of his content removed, including an interview with Crystal Dynamics, creators of the Tomb Raider franchise. The content was automatically claimed by Tomb Raider.

The content that you create is yours. The Fair Use law allows you to use copy-written material for purposed of commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, or teaching. YouTube should recognize that and put a stop to this automatic Content ID reporting, right? Nope.

In a statement issued by YouTube on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson gave the following comment:

“We recently enabled Content ID scanning on channels identified as affiliates of [multichannel networks]. This has resulted in new copyright claims for some users, based on policies set by the relevant content owners. As ever, channel owners can easily dispute Content ID claims if they believe those claims are invalid.”

What’s next, and where does it stop? If interviews with developers are being claimed, who’s to say that our own videos won’t be claimed? We did a series of interviews at Pubcon this year in Las Vegas – what’s to stop the new automatic Content ID system from flagging those interviews due to the names involved or the event that they took place at?

The bigger deal here is that Google is destroying YouTube and driving users away. Original content creators have now had their way of life irreparably damaged. For some, this was their main source of income. Even with the full permission of the developers, their content is still getting pulled. Not only is this bad for the user, it’s bad for the publisher. Even though developers are reaching out to individuals on a case-by-case basis and offering to lend a helping hand, it doesn’t appear that Google and YouTube are interested in helping. If neither Google or YouTube have your back, who does?

What would it take for you to switch the Vimeo? Can YouTube do this because they’re too big to fail?

Comments

  1. Ashley says

    Great article, Jon!

    Vimeo is awesome! I toured their offices once — I had a friend that used to work there. I like their interface better anyway.

  2. says

    Fantastic article Jon. I guess the crux of the issue is as you pointed out is what constitutes fair use or not.

    I’ve used the analogy before, could you replay a movie on YouTube with commentary and have it apply in this sense? No, I would think not. I’m surprised Let’s Play video’s have not had this type of scrutiny before to be honest.

    That said, gaming is a unique animal due to its inherent individual experiences and the role of the player. It’s definitely a grey area that over zealous software that Google looks to be implementing may or may not be the best officer for.

  3. Jonathan Wray says

    This situation is spiraling out of control.

    https://twitter.com/BriProv/status/411389802333106176

    “If you’re a composer & worried about Content IDs, don’t sell your music on CDBaby. They flagged OUR videos for OUR original music WE own.”

    I’ve even read that some people are disabling their YouTube channels. Worse, since YouTube and certain channels have contracts, they can’t escape.. so now you have people like Angry Joe, who may be locked into an affiliate contract, unable to really do his show since he might use a few seconds of gameplay footage to talk about a game. This is unreal.

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