YouTube responds to criticism of Content ID copyright protection system
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YouTube responds to criticism of Content ID copyright protection system

YouTube has issued a response to critics after its new Content ID copyright protection system whipped up a storm of criticism from video developers, composers and users.

The Content ID system, which sends copyright violation notices to users based on automated scanning, has been widely criticised since its launch last week for flagging thousands of “Let’s Play” videos, many of which are not breaking copyright law.

Let’s Play videos are made by video game fans who use in-game footage to make walkthroughs, reviews and reports. Content ID was introduced in response to complaints about alleged copyright violation of in-game music featured in many of the videos. The system blocks the creator of the YouTube video from running revenue-generating ads, and allows the individual or organisation which claims to be the copyright holder to run them instead.

Some companies, including rights enforcement businesses IndMusic and TuneCore, have angered YouTube users by attempting to extract revenue from videos featuring music that does not violate copyright law, or music they have no standing to enforce the rights to.

In an interview published yesterday, IndMusic CEO Brandon Martinez told Develop magazine that he and his colleagues are not “evil trolls” and blamed composers for failing to report licensed or commissioned work so that it would not be flagged.

Some game companies consider Let’s Play videos positive marketing for their games and have issued statements approving the use of footage from their games for Let’s Play videos. One developer, Vlambeer, has created a retroactive permission form for players who want to monetise its content in this fashion.

YouTube video developers have now organised themselves into a group, WhoLetsPlay, to collect and distribute information about how individual video game companies treat fans who use in-game footage to make walkthroughs, reviews and reports.

YouTube sent out an email to users in response to the criticism, which was published on gaming site Kotaku on Tuesday.

The letter suggests Let’s Play video developers turn off in-game music and instead use free music from YouTube’s audio library to avoid being automatically flagged for copyright violation.

It reassures users that most copyright claims will not impact the standing of their account.

But it does not acknowledge claims about abuses of the system by those who claim to be rights holders or companies claiming to act on their behalf.

“Keep in mind one video may contain multiple copyrighted works, any of which could potentially result in a claim,” it said.

“Also, online rights are often resold to companies like music labels and aggregators. While you might not recognize the owner, this doesn't necessarily mean their claims are invalid.”

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