YouTube Update to Help Creators Manage Copyright Claims

In response to ongoing issues between YouTubers and large music licensers, Google issued an update to YouTube’s Studio to help its content creators deal with copyright claims. The update adds a new “Assisted Trim” tool, which pre-sets endpoints to the claimed copyright material so users can edit out the allegedly infringing content quickly and easily. If the user chooses to simply edit out the content found by YouTube’s Content ID system, the copyright claim will end and the video will be available to viewers again.

The underlying controversy between YouTubers and music license holders arises from the use of copyrighted music in YouTube videos.  YouTubers claim license holders are being particularly ardent, if not abusive, with their copyright claims. Copyright claims can be used to take down a video preemptively, and YouTube’s Content ID system makes it very easy for copyright holders to detect copyrighted content. 

The YouTube Studio update also includes a new way for content creators to see the copyright strikes on their channels, get details on the copyright claim, and give users steps to resolve the strikes. YouTubers will now be able to sort between the videos flagged by copyright strikes and Content ID claims. These two different copyright systems are in place to help copyright owners find and flag videos that violate their copyrights.

YouTube issued a separate update to the way copyright claims are handled in July so that copyright holders must identify exactly what portion of the video violates their copyright, not just flag the whole video. YouTube is planning to roll out more updates in 2020 to help deal with the copyright problem that has been facing Youtubers for a while.

Sometimes, copyright disputes are resolved by allowing the copyright holder to make ad revenue from the video where their copyright is being violated. This compromise can lead to complications.  When Universal Music Group made a claim to YouTuber Lindsay Ellis’ video “Woke Disney,” and added an ad before the video, Ellis grew concerned because she was now in violation of her contract with her in-video sponsor, Audible. Audible sent her a letter asking her why the video now contained outside ads. YouTube uploaders are able to turn off ads for their own content, but people making copyright claims can turn the adds back on without the uploader’s consent. Ellis’ video critiqued of some of Disney’s current content, including their music and specifically the song “Song of the Roustabouts” from “Dumbo.” Ellis plays a portion of the song in the video. She complained that her use of the song was protected under the “fair use” portion of federal copyright laws. “It was such a clear-cut case of fair use, which YouTube claims to care about and to uphold, but functionally they do not,” Ellis said.

Other YouTubers have reportedly dealt with their videos being blocked or receiving copyright claims; for example, The Verge reported that a video about music editing was blocked for including a 15-second clip of an Iron Maiden song five years after it was originally uploaded. Other users reported losing potential income for quoting (very common) lyrics to a Bon Jovi song or performing an a capella parody of a song. Many of these things are given as examples of fair use as explained by the copyright section of YouTube’s own community guidelines.

“The record labels literally got all the power,” YouTuber Glenn Fricker, who had his said, “There’s no third-party arbitration system there. They make the claim and you could deny it, but what’s the point?” YouTube seems to be attempting to address issues its content creators have from the excessive amount of copyright claims they have been facing and to address other issues the creators have had with the site as they announce more and more updates on the content creator side of the site.