A Major Change to the YouTube Copyright Policy Could Change Everything
An Effort to Crack Down on Excessive Manual Claims Could Hand a Long Awaited Victory to Creators
(transcribed from the August 16th episode of LimeLight DIY Podcast- please forgive gramatical errors)
It's August 15th, 2019 and the YouTube Creators Blog has released an update today that is pretty significant for most creators, and it is entitled "Updates to Our Manual Content ID Claiming Policies".
What Is Changing About the youTube Copyright Policy?
Now- what does that mean for you and me? It means that YouTube is now updating- changing around - how they are going to handle manual content claims against creators, and that would be the the practice that some creators of pieces of music or video clips- primarily music though- are currently using to make a copyright claim against a YouTube creator. Now what that usually means is that a creator has a piece of somebody's copyrighted song in their video. This could be an intentional thing... perhaps they threw part of a song in or they could put an entire song and I suppose, but what oftentimes happens is the creator is shooting something and either they walk past a restaurant, bar, nightclub, etc that just happens to be playing that piece of music, or maybe a car will drive by and be stopped at a red light and they are playing that piece of music and that piece of music will get picked up by the camera that the YouTuber is filming with, and that is enough to trigger the current system that YouTube has for alerting copyright holders that their songs are being played without permission in a video.
This has caused all sorts of problems over the last few years as people are being demonetized left and right because of songs that have made it into their their videos, and most often these were not pieces of music that the YouTuber wanted to put in their videos- It's just what happened. Now, I know a lot of creators will go out of their way to edit out footage where there's a song playing in the background so that it doesn't demonetize their entire video- and we'll talk a little bit more about the demonetization process in a moment- but sometimes you can't cut out that piece of music without destroying the quality or message of the video itself. Using myself as an example, I had a video that I filmed about four years ago at Disney's Magic Kingdom and there was a parade going by in the background and I got a warning saying that a particular company who I will not name- and no- it was not the Walt Disney Company- currently has the intellectual rights to that piece of music. Because of that, YouTube stated that they were going to take my monetization on that video away and give it to the claimant.
I was not monetized at that point, so I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and went about life. I've also had more recently- just last year in fact, another instance where I filmed a piece from a neighborhood here in Orlando that had a very elaborate Halloween light display. The entire neighborhood got into the spirit, and one of the neighbors happened to be playing little short clips of music from that same company that had hit me with the copyright strike previously, and once again they laid a claim to a few moments of audio in my video saying that they had the right- if they wanted to- to take any monetization for that entire video.
Why Is YouTube Changing Their Copyright Policy?
This type of thing has become a problem for YouTube. A lot of creators are getting knocked left and right by- I don't want to say frivolous- but perhaps excessive manual claims, and in some cases this happens because copyright holders are aware that when they copy file these claims, they can make a claim to any monetization for that video. If you are a creator who routinely gets tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of views on their videos, and you happen to have a five second clip of somebody music playing in the background copyright holders have historically been able to quickly step in and lay claim to your monetization.
YouTube has over the last couple of months started to come out and clamp down a little bit on the excessive manual claims. What does that mean for most creators out there? Well, it could mean a lot or it could mean absolutely nothing depending on how a claim is filed against you. You see, the vast majority of content claims that are filed against creators on Youtube are from an automated system, not from this manual policy.
The automated system currently set up by YouTube has a very large database of songs, and when you upload a video, the software can scan over your video. If you are playing a song or a piece of a song that matches one of the ones that they have on file, it automatically alerts the copyright holder at this point that somebody just uploaded a video, and it has a piece of a song that they have a copyright claim to. It asks them if they would like to either block the video from being viewed , if they would like to block the video from being monetized, or if they would like for YouTube to give the monetization of that video to the claim holder- And in many cases, it just made more financial sense for the companies who own these copyrights to say "Yeah, I'll, I'll take the monetization".
The manual way of doing this is a little bit more sketchy. It's not relying on YouTube or their database of music to find offending content. It is allowing certain copyright holders to manually go into a video and to say " I think this person is violating my copyright. I'm gonna set a manual notice to YouTube that I am claiming that this video is violating my copyright". It should be noted that not everybody has access to the tools to file these claims. You generally have to have a certain set of criteria behind you before YouTube will allow you to do this. You have to own 100% of the rights to a substantial body of copyrighted work before you would be given access to these copyright tools, and it's not really been a problem per se for YouTube up until recently when they've noticed that some claimants have gotten very aggressive for very small clips of songs being used.
The Burden of Proof Switches the The Claimholder
So what is YouTube saying about this? In a nutshell, they're saying that if you file a manual copyright claim now, the burden of proof is largely of on you. Gone are the days where you could file a claim and immediately lay claim to a channel's monetization. Now there are certain things a claimant has to do when filing a claim
- They have to provide a timestamp of where the copyrighted material is inside the video.
- They have to go through a human screening process, which means they can't use a software to determine that someone has violated your copyright for these manual claims- they actually have to have a real live human examine the content to verify that it is in fact violating a copyright.
- They have to own 100% of the rights to that particular piece.
- They have to be in good standing with the service- and that means for all these people who have been filing excessive manual claims, YouTube is going to start looking at these claims and determining if a claimant is legitimately trying to protect their intellectual property, or if they are filing nuisance claims.
This new policy doesn't actually go into effect until mid September of 2019, and YouTube is building in this small delay to give the owners of these copyrights a chance to start changing their policies internally to adjust to the new YouTube policy before it becomes law.
I know several people who have videos with 300 to 500,000 views on them that the copyright claim currently takes all of their monetization in hands it to somebody else and that's a little bit of a problem. They can't just cut the video down. People say, well, why don't you just take the video down? Well, because it's bringing in a lot of new subscribers so it isn't worth taking the entire video down, but they're, their entire monetization of these 15 to 20 minute videos is gone and given us somebody else over, you know, four to seven seconds of a car driving by blasting a song from x, Y, z band. Now this is going to make it easier for them to go, okay, this isn't right. I want to dispute this now. Youtube is being very careful and try to make sure that everyone understands you're still not allowed to use somebody else's stuff, uh, in a non transformative way.
YouTube Launches New Tools to Help Creators Handle Claims
YouTube is still telling people not to place anybody else's copyrighted music into their videos, uh, but when it does happen, they're making it a little bit easier to correct the issue. The platform has recently released some new tools in YouTube studio that will make this a lot easier, so now if somebody files a copyright claim against you over a little piece of music, you don't just automatically lose the the rights to your monetization- You can do a few things in the backend:
- The editor function will now allow you to mute the sound in the area when the song is played. For instance, is if you are doing a 50 minute video and there's four seconds of music, the editor will now allow you to mute that four seconds and just go about your business.
- If muting isn't a good option, it will also allow you to replace the song in the youtube editing tools. For instance, if somebody is playing a Jimmy Buffett tune as you're walking along the beach, now you will have the ability to go into the editor and replace that with another song that isn't copyrighted.
- Lastly, It will give you the ability to trim the offending section of the video. For instance, if you get a warning e that says a that at the 11:07 mark of your video there's a four second clip of copyrighted audio, you will be able to cut that four seconds out of your video completely- and YouTube is working on a tool that will make it a one click process.
YouTube has taken a lot of flack for potentially being somewhat tone deaf to the creators, and I think what we're seeing right here is a correction, and in my opinion, a very needed correction. Yes, the burden is still on creators to make sure they do everything you can to ensure that there's no copyrighted material inside of their videos, but at least they now know that YouYube is keeping an eye on things and trying to make sure that there's fewer bullies in the sandbox.