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Explaining copyright broke the YouTube copyright system (nyu.edu)
653 points by pulisse 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 277 comments

Adam Neely (YouTube music educator) had an absolutely farcical run-in with this situation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM6X2MEl7R8) where he made a video defending Warner Music and Katy Perry's Dark Horse against Flame's Joyful Noise plagiarism suit. He lost the claim from Warner Music even though:

1- he was defending Warner Music

2- he didn't play any recordings, he just played 3 notes on a synthesizer (which is his whole premise that it's un-copyrightable)

3- Warner Music lost the actual suit (which implies they don't have copyright on those 3 notes?)

4- someone at Warner Music manually tagged the "infringing" part of the video, except the person tagged not the Dark Horse part of the play through but the Joyful Noise part of the play through (*^∀^)ノ彡┻━┻

changelog: improved ascii art

It's pretty simple, Alphabet/Google make it far too easy for mistaken, false or frivolous claims. It's obvious why, usually the claimant has the heavy bags of money to use as a bludgeon, but it's not right.

It's not just that it's easy, but that the theft is legal and profitable. You don't even need to be rich to do this, you just need stuff you can claim; see How to Break YouTube (Copyright Claim your own video).


IANAL but it seems to me Alphabet/Google can get in serious legal trouble for it if they continue the system. There are a number of companies who massively submit false copyright claims and YouTube let's them do their business, even though it's easy to check in particular cases that the claims are false. These bogus companies get at least part of the monetization from videos they falsely claim.

Doesn't that mean that Youtube is knowingly facilitating fraud and in some cases - when legitimate content is taken over - even commercial copyright infringement? It seems to me that the only reason why Youtube has gotten away with it so far is that nobody has systematically collected the evidence and sued Youtube in a country like Germany, for instance.

Edit: On a second thought, fraud seems irrelevant. It's about commercial copyright infringement.

There really needs to be a class action suit about this. Google allows Big Content to claim other people's content. Instead of fighting copyright violations, they assist in copyright violations on a massive scale, and deprive artists of income from their content.

The interesting thing is that one idea behind the copyright change in the EU is to alleviate this point. I don't think it'll work, but that's what the politicians touted it as.

It was the copyright lobbyist that pushed for it, so of course it isn't (to alleviate this point)

somehow that explain some other issues on yt, like not only demonetizing the corona virus tagged videos but also other videos on the channel involved

It's also because US law requires companies to excessively defend their trademarks in order to enforce them as a rightholder otherwise they lose it. So really US law has just been interpreted in a way that is absurdly annoying for everyone. Companies have no choice but to defend and actively seek out even minor things because it can all be used against them in court eventually one day. As long as they actively suppress that stuff, it proves to a judge they are protecting their IP. It's really a precedent set by the US government to force companies to waste this time and annoy us.

US law requires companies to excessively defend their trademarks in order to enforce them as a rightholder otherwise they lose it

Copyright and trademarks are different intellectual property concerns with different maintenance, declaration, and enforcement rules.

Copyright is not Trademarks is not Patents.

They are different sorts of protection and rights for different sorts of intellectual property.

All/Most countries that have trademark IPR require the holder to defend that right or lose it. It's not US specific. That's because you get the right to that mark because you're using it and watching for other people not to try to misuse or pass off their product/service as yours.

You are not required to immediately defend copyright, because its a right you hold whether you publish your work or not. You have copyright on something basically as soon as it is fixed in a physical form (written/recorded etc).

Finally, with patents, you're not required to have it in physical form, but you are required to describe it to the patent office in a way someone "skilled in the art" could reproduce. If they do that without getting permission then they have violated your patent.

So your premise in your message is incorrect.

I've seen the point you make about trademarks often repeated but it is infact not true. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/11/trademark-law-does-not...

I donate to EFF regularly, and I support the article’s premise.

However, I am not sure an argument by EFF, no matter how much I support it, can be considered a factual counterpoint.

Also, I’m bummed to see the parent post downvoted. I thought on HN, downvotes were supposed to be used on off topic/hostile/unproductive points, not just ones with which we disagree.

It is down voted due to being off topic. Copyright and trademark are two unrelated topics.

It is misinformation written in an authoritative tone with no source.

It's considered bad form to lump them together.


The article has citations to some rulings that affirm the point it is making. "Wallpaper Mfrs., Ltd. v. Crown Wallcovering Corp., 680 F.2d 755, 766 (C.C.P.A. 1982) (“an owner is not required to act immediately against every possibly infringing use to avoid a holding of abandonment”);"

Downvoting for disagreement has been a long-accepted practice, as noted by 'pg and 'dang.

My bad. I reread the guidelines and FAQ. I must have been thinking of some other forum.

The parent conflates copyrights with trademarks.

If a belief is comfy enough, people won't abandon it :)

However, trademark is not copyright.

It's not a copyright system. Sure, YouTube are required to take down copyright-infringing material as defined by law, but AFAIK they are not required to apply considerations for fair use etc. I'm not sure there's any requirement for them to consider the truthfulness of copyright claims at all.

IOW, YouTube's system may be a response to copyright legislation, but it does not apply that legislation. Appeals to the fair use doctrine are missing the point. The doctrine does not apply since YouTube's actions are not constrained by copyright law.

IANAL, as you can probably tell. I may be wrong about what YT are required to consider, but in that case, I don't see how they can operate as they do.

It's not simply that they don't have any requirement to consider fair use but that there's no incentive for them to do it. If they defend users content that may infringe or may be fair use (the distinction is up to a court, mind you) they open themselves up to secondary liability. If you're a service provider you're probably going to err on the side of claimants and never reject a single one.

Yeah that's the whole point of DMCA, you remove liability by not taking side.

If youtube's automated system detects a copyrighter (eg.) song, the user should be given an option to say "no, it's not copyrighter, or it's fair use, etc", after that, the claim should be forwarded to the copyright owner.

The copyright owner would then verify if it is indeed a copyright infringement, and if they believe it is, and the user still believe it isn't, the case should be brought to some quivalent of "small claims court", where both sides would present their sides, and the loser has to pay some fine (not too large, but still high enough to deter pointless cases.. eg $1000 (to cover the court cost), and damages up to eg. $1000 due to lost views, or damages due to unlicenced distribution).

Basically, make it worth fighting for, if you're sure you're right in what you're doing, and not too expensive, when eg. Sonys lawyers build a multi-year case, destroying you financially, even if you're doing the right thing.

Well, that sounds like something to take up with the legislator, not YouTube.

From another non-lawyer perspective, might it be different since there is money involved? I view it as potentially infringing on some people’s livelihoods.

Again, just spitballing. I have no idea what the reality of the situation is.

part of the issue is that fair use is something that needs to be proven in court

There should be a strike system against claimants falsely claiming videos, just like the users have a strike system. Three incorrect claims and every claim you make will be reviewed by an independent third party (billed to the claimant, of course).

That is so, so hilarious. Any one of those things individually is funny. Together; glorious.

Classical pianist here. I've been through youtube's broken copyright enforcement system several times. I'll post a video of myself performing some composition that is in the public domain and it'll get "identified" as a copyrighted recording by someone else. Of course youtube doesn't give you an option for "mistaken claim", you have to choose between "this content is entirely my work" (which isn't quite true in my case, since I didn't write the music) or "this video counts as fair use". I typically select "this video counts as fair use" because it's the least untrue of the available options. Nineteen times out of twenty the claim disappears immediately. (I don't even monetize my videos. I just don't want ads on my videos at all, and I especially don't want ads on my videos if the revenue is going to some completely unrelated party.)

There was, however, one time when I had to deal with an escalated claim. The piece in question was the slow movement of Dvorak's "New World" Symphony. The Symphony has long been in the public domain. However, the slow movement was adapted into the song "Goin' Home", which is still under copyright, and there is a long-standing myth that the song was the inspiration for the Symphony rather than the other way around. Thus when I challenged the copyright claim on my New World video, the claimant came back and insisted their claim (on "Goin' Home") was valid. This notice was of course accompanied by the scary warnings about how if I persisted it could count as a strike against my youtube account.

I called their bluff. I responded with links to every online source I could find showing that Dvorak's work came first and was in the public domain.

I don't know what I would have done had they continued to dig in their heels. Happily, they ended up releasing the claim - days before their claim would have expired anyway - with no elaboration. I'd be curious to hear from anyone else who stuck it through the scary youtube warnings and what the outcome was.

[EDIT: thanks for the clarifications on "own content" and "fair use". I never thought of it that way, but now it seems obvious.]

You definitely own the copyright of your own recording and playing of a tune in the puplic domain. It's not fair use at all. You own the copyright a recording of a classical composition, even if it contains non-copyrighted elements. Fair use implies you're using a copyrighted work in a manner that is protected by the first amendment.

The "this is entirely my work" would apply here since nothing else in the video was legally owned by anyone else. If the option meant quite literally everything in the video was entirely created by me then it would apply to nothing since you could use no language or literally anything inspired by anything.

This comment is true up to the part about the first amendment. It's 17 U.S.C. §107 that lays out the exemptions. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107

Maybe I'm wrong, but I had been told that the reason the US added fair use exemptions was to make sure our copyright laws were compatible with the first amendment, or else risk them being struck down.

> Maybe I'm wrong, but I had been told that the reason the US added fair use exemptions was to make sure our copyright laws were compatible with the first amendment

Copyright and free speech contradict each other - copyright is a form of legalized, privatized censorship. You can argue that copyright is OK - but then better take a look in the mirror and don't argue against the censorship in China etc. . Or you can argue against censorship, but then you must argue against copyright, too.

Regardless of whether that is true, if law is modified for a specific purpose, that does not imply that its effects are limited to that specific purpose. If fair use was added to ensure copyright law would not violate the first amendment, it is still possible that fair use covers more than is protected by the first amendment.

>I don't know what I would have done had they continued to dig in their heels.

My wife's a choral composer and runs into similar nonsense with almost every video she posts to YouTube. There was one piece she posted that got taken down hard with a claim by Sony Classical within minutes, citing the applause - I think the video might have been part of a submission for a grant application or something to that effect, and if it was offline by the deadline, she was S.O.L.

Fortunately, her extended network is such that after some frantic tweeting from her verified account, the claim was reversed in under 48 hours. IIRC, both the Sony Classical twitter account and the composer of the work that the video was mistakenly flagged as tweeted back the equivalent of "We're not sure why this is happening, sorry!"

(I may be conflating two stories here, because there are so. many. But it doesn't lessen the absurdity of the situation, particularly for folks in the classical world)

Imagine that this has become business as usual for people. What is somebody does not have the right friends? It is quite obvious that the current Youtube copyright system is flat out broken.

Actually a performance piece of a public domain work counts as its own copyrighted work. So the least true option would be claiming that the song is your work.

Um, "least true"?

Do you mean either "least false" or "most true"?

Yes, that’s what I meant. It’s too late to edit it now though.

I think you mean "most true", not "least true".

He says he's posting videos of himself playing the piece, which means he owns the copyright of his performance.

Yes, exactly -- so the only copyright to speak of is the performance, which is owned by him.

Yes, so the "work" as far as copyright is concerned is the performance. The "work" is entirely his own.

And how does that make "this is my work" the least true option?

> Actually a performance piece of a public domain work counts as its own copyrighted work. So the least true option would be claiming that the song is your work. reply

Since this was the reply, which explains how "this is my work" is the most true option, I'm not sure why you feel the need to post your question. Both sides have been explained and you can decide on your own.

> > So the least true option

> "this is my work" is the most true option

Obviously this was a typo, probably meant to be "least untrue".

Yes, I meant to write “least untrue” just the same as the original poster.

You may also like to know that the composition of Goin' Home is now in the public domain as well, being published in 1922.


>I don't know what I would have done had they continued to dig in their heels.

Either they would sue you or the claim would go away.

No, the video would be taken down and he would have to sue them (and probably Google) to get it reinstated and the strike reversed.

I assume you're aware that YouTube's policy explicitly says otherwise (if not, I've linked to sources elsewhere in this thread). Do you have any sources for the claim that YouTube is not following their own policy on honoring counternotices?

My mistake, thank you for the correction.

The "solution" they arrived at boggles my mind:

> We reached out to YouTube through private channels to try to get clarity around the copyright strike rules. While we never got that clarity, some weeks later we were informed that the claims against our video had been removed.

We need competition in this space.

I'd settle for a business-law-mandated access to legal recourse, and forced accountability of platforms (any platform, not just Youtube. If a US platform bans your content, you should have legal recourse in the US, not "a black hole unless you know someone on the inside", and not "a web form no human ever reads"), instead of competition.

After all, you can't compete on "we have a better legal process": if your selling point is is "once things have gone wrong, and we already ruined your day, at least your recourse is better than at Youtube", you don't have a selling point.

I would like to settle for both as Google does remove or demonetize unwanted content without valid justifications while still showing ads. I think youtube developed in a significantly worse direction for both content creators and users. It isn't the groundbreaking new platform for alternative content where the user decides what he wants to see.

Copyright law still needs a reformation. The incentive to allow preferential monetization of orginal content in exchange for making it public is probably more of a hindrance for digital content. In reality it serves large publishers that technically should play a smaller role by now, since content logistics are cheaper now. At least for the vast majority of creators.

They probably could have pursued it further. Presumably their time is valuable (and that value is easily quantifiable) and they had to spend some of it defending this spurious claim. It feels very much like patent trolling but it's copyright trolling.

Cloudflare famously stood up to a patent troll and prevailed. In their first blog post about it [0], they wrote,

> This claim is a nuisance for us. The lawsuit will take our time, distract us from our work, and it will cost us money to fight. Patent trolls like Blackbird Technologies (@bbird_tech) exist to create these headaches so companies will play along and give them money to go away.

The only difference I can see is that patent trolls like Blackbird use the courts whereas copyright trolls use YouTube.

[0] https://blog.cloudflare.com/standing-up-to-a-dangerous-new-b...

> We need competition in this space.

Hard to compete against a free service like YouTube. You'd need to build out your own infrastructure if you want to deliver videos cost-effectively, you'll have to build your own ad network to make any revenue, and even then you'll need some way to draw both content creators and users to your service to have any chance.

We had some competitors, but Vimeo effectively gave up and is marketing for B2B, and Twitch's video upload feature doesn't work since they haven't pushed hard enough for it (a huge marketing push, some UI work, and exclusivity deals on Twitch's side would go a long way if it can get any initial momentum).

One way, is to start something up, and then get acquired by Amazon, Netflix, or any other larger player that has the infrastructure for it.

Netflix's infrastructure IS Amazon

No, Netflix has their own CDN.

The servers running in AWS are mostly metadata.

> You'd need to build out your own infrastructure if you want to deliver videos cost-effectively.

For non-streaming video web-torrent is probably the best attempt I've seen as it offloads bandwidth to the viewers.

However the real problem that is impossible to get around is storage. To run a moderately large site the largest cost is storage as you will be seeding a copy of the video.

The few competitors (which are about <1% of youtube's views) are built quite poorly IMO.

You won't beat youtube by copying it. You need to build something new that addresses many of the short comings.

People want local copies of videos anyways, to get around takedowns. So why not do a Freenet-like thing where videos that you like are cached on your host, so you keep hosting them for others?

WebTorrents work like regular torrents and can be downloaded via a torrent client. You could just provide a magnet link.

And how do the content creators get paid in this torrent-based system? That’s the “real problem” with it. It won’t have high quality content. (At least not legally.)

On a site (which uses webtorrent) you can either serve ads (like youtube does), BAT (or equivalent) or have a subscriber model.

I would wage most people won't even know they are being served by the web torrent mechanism when you hit the page. The video player looks like a regular html 5 video player.

You can just point youtube-dl at a video. However the vast majority of viewers just use the site / phone app.

This is the most concerning part. What do "regular" content creators (read: no legal team) do to remove these kinds of invalid copyright strikes?

They give up. Literally. A lot of content creators even joke about it during their videos.

“Gotta hurry past this café so the music won’t get my video copyright striked, lol!”

This morning I got a copyright claim for a video I published in 2015 which had a brief bit of background music, using a royalty-free song I got as a perk for being an iTools user from FreePlay in _2003_.

I can choose to combat the copyright claim (and during this process you check a box that says "you agree that you could have your account deleted if you don't win this claim" (something like that)), or I can give the $1/year revenue I got from that video to the scummy company that files these claims.

To me that's $1/year lost revenue (no big deal, right?) but that company now gets the revenue from this video—and millions of other videos... so they're making mint and gambling that most users won't even try to appeal.

> I can choose to combat the copyright claim (and during this process you check a box that says "you agree that you could have your account deleted if you don't win this claim" (something like that)), or I can give the $1/year revenue I got from that video to the scummy company that files these claims.

Obviously the problem is that it's completely unbalanced. Do people making copyright claims have the same threat? "By disputing this counter-claim, you agree that you could have your right to file any copyright claims revoked."

If not, then yeah, it's absolutely unfair.

But filing claim is protected by law, you ability to have content on YouTube is not. There is a fundamental asymmetry.

Filing claims by suing is protected by law; filing claims on YouTube is not.

Under the DMCA that isn't the case. Platforms, including YouTube, are required to react to your claims if properly submitted.

These are not DMCA claims.

It would be entirely reasonable for Youtube to block them from submitting the current style of claims and require them to submit actual, proper DMCA claims which open the claimant to all kinds of counterclaims, require the claimant to assert under the penalty of perjury that they own that content, etc.

That's an idea for sure. I should have clarified my point that while these aren't DMCA claims, YouTube is required to handle DMCA claims, and their current process essentially preempts them. So that's how they're choosing to effectively 'handle' what would otherwise presumably be large numbers of DMCA claims.

But yeah, maybe requiring claimants to actually go through the official process would be better (albeit more work for YouTube).

Youtube has it's own system that is not actually DMCA, so they don't need to get pesky lawyers involved.

These aren't being properly submitted under DMCA, Youtube is proactively matching audio to submitted samples.

> But filing claim is protected by law, you ability to have content on YouTube is not. There is a fundamental asymmetry.

Filing a claim automatically and conveniently is not protected by law. They could just as well say, "We have an automated system with a convenient interface for good-faith actors. If you show yourself to be acting in bad faith, you can exercise your legal claim in writing by sending it to this address: X. The postal system to that office is pretty bad, loses stuff all the time, so you'd better send it FedEx."

I am sick of this and thinking about canceling youtube premium...

To be honest this doesn't seem that hard. write an application that crawls youtube videos in some order, grab the audio and stream it to something like echonest, then strike if it hits on anything?

Doesn't that mean they need to be sending a hundred of these out per hour, 40 hours a week, just to make payroll?

They upload the sound clips, YouTube finds the matching videos and sends them a list, then a human reviews the list(haha just kidding) and activates the revenue stealing. I'm sure some of those videos are earning a lot more than $1/year.

A machine (script) can send out a lot more than a hundred/hr.

Remember, they don't have to be true.

The person clicking the button just needs to think it's true.

And somehow the user is the one that might get banned in this scenario?

It's fully automated.

Games should address this, eg. Fortnite has a toggle for "licensed music" so that they won't get claimed if someone does an emote near them.

Fallout 76 patched in a setting to turn off music worldwide. Before that, if you turned off the radio, the in-world radios would still play. You would see YouTubers rushing to the in-world radios to turn them off, or cutting sections of the video so they didn't get claimed. It's absurd.

Or adapt the law that this farce isn't necessary in the first place. Because it is certainly broken.

edit: And as others have mentioned in their stories, people might get angry if you destroy their radios to evade a frivolous claim.

This farce isn't necessary according to the law, fair use is a thing. The law doesn't need any adaptations - the YouTube policies do.

Fair point. Although companies tend to go out of their way to mitigage possible litigation.

Conceptually, I agree. But at youtube scale, I suspect they aren't comparing a corpus of "asserted copyrights" versus "all videos". It's a corpus of "all videos" (straight up) with some preference for asserted copyrights.

I expect that even toggling off Fortnite's "licensed music" setting can still run into audio copyright claims against other Fortnite videos which have the same audio.

Yeah, it's common for Influencers with a big subscriber base to shove all their videos into Content ID, so other smaller channels get their videos claimed because they happened to play the same video game (and the audio matched as a result).

AFAIK in that case it's at least not malicious, it's just the content ID system completely failing to handle this category of content, where a big chunk of the visuals and/or audio are guaranteed to match with other videos because it's a recording of interactive media.

I work for a rather large consumer goods company. We had a video taken down during a really important product launch. We had absolutely no idea why for three days.

It cost us maybe two full days of development resources + consultants + throwing money at different consultants to get an "in" to youtube to figure out why our video was taken down. About a week later we received official word from the artist and then we figured out that our consultants who made the video messed up and forgot the critical step of securing permission.

It was an expensive blunder, both from a media standpoint but also in the amount of resources we burned trying to figure out what the hell was wrong.

I'm not mad at youtube for taking the video down, but it's absurd that there's nothing in the system that would tell me why, and absolutely zero hope of figuring it out.

FYI: I've seen screenshots of takedown complaints in the Youtube mgmt. UI. So login to your control panel and look around for that.

It says who did it, what they object to and gives you the choice of fixing it or filing a complaint. But if you lose the complaint, you get a copyright strike and can lose your channel.

It's not even just copyright strikes. Sometimes they worry about being demonetised over swearing or other minor indecencies so they self-censor more than they should to be safe.

I saw one video where they spent some time up front saying how great Stadia is so the algorithm treats them nicely before spending the next 10 minutes saying how bad it is. They were clearly joking, but it does make me think about the type of control the system has and what messages get promoted. Who knows?

There actually is a process. You send an official copywrite counterclaim.

Not through their fake on platform system, but instead through their "official" counter claim contact info email.

They would then be required by law to reinstate the content.

The step after that would be that the other party now has to go to court, to take down your content.

They can't file a DMCA counterclaim because they never received a DMCA claim in the first place. Youtube simply blocks the content, you don't even get a proper claim with the contact info.

"They would then be required by law to reinstate the content. The step after that would be that the other party now has to go to court, to take down your content." is the followup process for a DMCA claim - but that's not what's happening here. Youtube is not requiring claimants to submit a DMCA claim (with all the associated process) and they are not submitting DMCA claims. Youtube could make their copyright claim process following these rules if they wanted to be on the side of users, but they have not. They can also choose to have a process where any complaint simply causes content to get removed with no recourse, and this is pretty much what they have done.

If it’s this easy, why don’t people just do it? And why haven’t I heard of this before in all these topics?

> why don’t people just do it?

Because people don't know about it.

Also, for many people, even doing something like "sending an email to counter claim" is too much work for them to bother doing it.

You'd be surprised how many people won't follow through on something when there is even the smallest barrier to them doing so.

> And why haven’t I heard of this before in all these topics?

Things can get to be pretty technical, when people are talking about the minutia of a counter claim to DMCA. It does not surprise me that info like this is not well known.

But we are not talking about the DMCA system. We are talking about YouTube's own system that is not DMCA and for which they are not required to provide due process.

So, what is this magical Google email address? I don't think it exists.

I am glad that you asked.

It is provided on the official copyright.gov website.

All this stuff is in a searchable database that is helpful provided by the US government, and is required by law.

Ex for Google:


For DMCA, it's dmca-agent@google.com

But it's more likely that you get a Youtube takedown, which is not related to DMCA. There's a UI for that in the mgmt. console.

Completely agree with you. To be fair to the authors, they did address this in their conclusion:

> This is not a reasonable expectation to place on average users.

What makes you think that a competing hosting service is going to result in competition that benefits the users, and not the rights-holders?

The rights holders may end up playing the two services against eachother, and use the more draconian policy of one as arguments for making the other more friendly to their interests.

They have a lot more skin in the game than users do.

The problem doesn't exist to such an extent in the web-hosting world. (where there is much competition)

DMCA requests usually don't result in a website shutting down unless the webmaster is non-responsive and the claimant makes further moves beyond the first request.

It should be noted that YouTube's copyright strikes are not DMCA violations, for the reason that the DMCA has penalties for making false claims. The media cartels claim that this is an onerous burden for their enforcement division which is why they worked with Google to make sure they wouldn't be subject to legal action for taking down legitimate content.

The easiest solution would be to create penalties for false takedowns of legal content, but this would likely just result in Google being sued for trillions of dollars by the media cartels to remove such restrictions under the argument that Google is aiding in piracy.

This all happened after the big Viacom lawsuit against Google: Google set themselves up as private arbitration and gave the big media companies a massive gift of control of the platform, pretty much because they didn't want to deal with continued suits directed at them. Even though the Safe Harbor provisions basically absolved them of any responsibility, they'd still have to fight in court every time some litigious parasites sued them.

That's when ContentID and the non-DMCA takedowns started happening.

And this is exactly what will happen to any competing service that grows big enough to be relevant.

> The easiest solution would be to create penalties for false takedowns of legal content ...

You hit on this in your first sentence. And this whole arrangement with Google is specifically to side-step those penalties. Your 'easiest solution' is for Google to return to DMCA takedown requests. I agree. I want that. I think most consumers and content creators would.

But Big Media doesn't.

Maybe they do, but not in the obvious way. DMCA is the sledge hammer they use to force sites into these more terrible arrangements.

I mean, how fast would Google move if a non-responsive take down resulted in the youtube.com domain being seized?

I think Google could have moved plenty fast enough to ever prevent a domain seizure. I think if Google had ever had creators in mind, they'd have put some money into their legal responses to takedown requests, and they'd have also forced Big Media to play by the rules. The way I see it, it came down to Google being threatened with becoming a defendant to the infringement suits brought against uploaders. Clearly, the DMCA protects web sites as long as the process is followed, which Google could have afforded to do for awhile.

Instead, Google would rather have made their own job easier by standardizing 'requests.' There's nothing in the DMCA specifying that some standard, machine-readable format be used. To get the media companies on board with keeping the takedown request process as automated as possible, they compromised.

It's not because of DMCA requests, it's because of lawsuits like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viacom_International_Inc._v._Y....

Even if Youtube was in the right, it would take years and multiple appeals to get to that conclusion and then Viacom still appealed so at some point Youtube just decided to settle, it was cheaper.

I believe that means that in the current legal environment it is not cost efficient to provide free hosting of third party videos, ad supported, without draconian/significant number of false positives content identification system that is made available to the biggest potential "suers". Thus, even if a competitive service would appear, if it needs to be profitable using the same format it would likely end up implementing a similar (or worse) system. But I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

They didn't go that route with Oracle/java.

Whoever is in charge of this situation dropped the ball out of fear. It cost Google plenty because all videos should have ads unless you are on a paid account.

Google didn’t lose anything by settling with Viacom. The Oracle lawsuit put the whole Android ecosystem at risk. The trade offs weren’t similar at all

Nobody is going to watch a video on a random website unless if it's hosted on some sort of content aggregator like Reddit. Afterwards, creators will want an easy way to monetize on the content aggregator. Next, you'll just have Youtube with extra steps.

Yeah, most people don't have this option.

I'm not a content creator, but I run into it myself, when I wanted to upload a dashcam recording of an accident to share with my insurance company.

It was tagged, because radio was playing a song and of course after my appeal they insisted the copyright was theirs. I gave up after getting the page which threatened me with the possibility of terminating my account.

The thing is that if I could I would actually prefer to remove the music from the video, I was interested in the other sounds.

Agree. That's why we built our Attribution Engine [0]. It's much more advanced that YouTube's Content ID, it's free to all rightsholder, creators and platforms (we make money from taking % of monetized/licensed content) and it's completely transparent.

[0] https://blog.pex.com/introducing-the-attribution-engine-19ec...

There are plenty of other options. Try Vimeo...

All companies should make their rules clear or be fined. And if a company has unclear rules, is asked to explain these rules, and still doesn't explain them, the company should pay an enormous fine. After all, the company must be acting in bad faith if they don't explain their rules when asked.

We do - or we need to start declaring services like Youtube/Facebook platforms with the necessary requirements for public access that common platforms have under other circumstances.

About that -- https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2020/02/28/google-has-right...

>> a Seattle appeals court said on Wednesday. It’s neither a public forum nor a “state actor”, and it can’t be held to First Amendment court oversight as if it were a government body.

>> »violation of First Amendment protection of free speech. That argument doesn’t fly, the appeals court said on Wednesday, given that YouTube isn’t a public forum

The big mistake people make is that youtube is a public platform/forum. It is not, it's a privilege that their server accepts your browser's request, not a right. They have every right to refuse for any reason they want. Same for videos you upload there, them holding it is a privelege, not a right.

It's in company's best interest to make people believe that it's a public forum, because people will start using it every day. In case of google, people use their browser to visit their website, sometimes using their ISP (google fiber), and log in using their account. As soon as you do something google doesn't like, you risk losing access to one of those, because it's not actually yours, it's a service provided as a privelege, unfortunately.

Aye, and that's my problem, social networks promote themselves as "open forums" when it's convenient for them and note that they were technically lying when they said it when it's inconvenient. I'd really love it if that public deception could be disarmed.

Maybe we just need better advertising standards enforcement to fine these guys into the ground whenever they talk about how their platform "enables open communication on a global scale" and other marketing BS.

It's going to be hard to get competition in a space that is unprofitable and requires huge infrastructure investment.

> While our colleagues in the communications department were highly supportive of our efforts, they were concerned that one misstep could wipe NYU Law’s entire YouTube presence off the internet.

The copyright system on YouTube is broken and stuff like this allows rightsholders to abuse the DMCA and bully small creators. It's a shame.

> Since we are the center at NYU Law focused on technology and innovation, it was not a dead end for us. We reached out to YouTube through private channels to try to get clarity around the copyright strike rules. While we never got that clarity, some weeks later we were informed that the claims against our video had been removed.

It is so with all Google products. Your content will be taken down or account will be randomly locked or your apps will be removed and unless you have lots of "clout" and/or can build up an outrage about the incident on Twitter/HN, you're screwed.

Slightly off topic...but I recently had a Facebook page removed from Facebook for copyright violations. Though I had an agreement with the copyright holder to use their content/logo, etc. I reached out to that copyright holder...and they didn't file the complaint. So I made an appeal to Facebook, with the paperwork showing I had an agreement (in this case with a German soccer club) to use their logo, etc and they (Facebook) didn't even reply to me at all. Incredibly frustrating experience. I've reached out multiple times, through the appeal process, and through emails. No one even cares, and worse I created a new page similar to that page...and Facebook unpublished it. So, now I am stuck in limbo or can likely never have that page back or similar pages...all because Facebook is black hole and doesn't care even slightly. I get that they have billions of users, but so do a lot of companies, and they will at least reach back out to you and give you a status...even if the answer is "too bad." This happened almost 3 weeks ago now. Nothing.

BTW, the page is non-commercial and doesn't profit from anything.

Thats not off topic, in fact it actually helps add depth to the original post that this is an automation problem common to Google and Facebook and potentially other mega cash-generating corporations who would rather err on the side of the copyright holders than risk getting themselves sued for not being strong enough with their automated protection.

I think at some point the owners of pages who have been wronged like this need to band together and form some sort of lawsuit for the damages the copyright system caused.

Facebook will start caring if there’s the potential for a legal precedent to be set against their copyright filtering software

Why keep yourself in a position where you have to ask FB for permission to speak?

Vote with your feet. Build a website FB doesn't control.

But then when you see the cost difference between just removing the content, and potentially getting sued, you'll do the same thing. There needs to be a legal solution to this. A balance can be found, the current system is broken.

Sounds like the EU bureaucrats should sharpen their knives again, otherwise there is no justice for the little guy.

> Sounds like the EU bureaucrats should sharpen their knives again, otherwise there is no justice for the little guy.

Au contraire, the EU is demanding automatic copyright filters (also known as censorship machines). Don't mistake EU doing one good thing – GDPR – for EU always taking the side of the little guy.


My hot take: Automatic copyright filters help the little guy if implemented correctly, because then independent and established content creators both have the ability to shove stuff into Content ID and other filtering systems. Right now you need to be in the Big Boys Club to get access to Content ID, and once you have it you can do whatever you want. This bias is possible in part because it isn't a regulated program, it's just the result of back-door deals between Google and other companies.

Of course, automatic copyright filters are a complete disaster for multiple reasons, but establishing them universally via regulation in a way that doesn't favor big corporate players is a lot better than the ones we have right now. The ideal is to abolish them entirely.

One of the biggest problems with Content ID is that Google seems to make no effort to verify actual ownership before allowing claims to be made, so you can trivially steal other people's content without being penalized. If filtering happens at a regulatory level, it could be tied in with the system for registering copyrights, at which point anyone can utilize the system by registering their work and you have an easier way to resolve disputes over claims (is this copyright registration valid or not? is the match correct?) vs the current YouTube mess.

Your "if implemented correctly" is but one of the big non-starters in the argument for upload filters, that's plain and simple not going to happen. And not only from a technical perspective...

In legislations like ours in Germany copyright registration isn't really a thing for most arms of copyright related topics, rights on creative works are rather complicated in general and even with the EU subject to local laws. So there's hardly anything to tie into really.

And from the viewpoint of "helping the little guy/gal" it seems that all recent legislation worked against that, e.g. here most of these issues were delegated to commercial interest groups that just flat out deny smaller content creators like YouTubers or bloggers.

Even if they could upload content, then you have the same content in there twice and need to bake on another layer that's likely broken.

To me it honestly seems that no amount of good will legislation in this space that mandates anything close to upload filters will ever turn out benefitial to smaller players in the space.

"it seems that all recent legislation worked against that" is blatantly untrue. The DMCA functions for individuals and Content ID does not, which is part of why big players wanted Content ID: it favors them.

I agree that it's very hard for legislation to fix this problem, but I think people are too eager to claim that legislation is unable to help small players when the situation is far more nuanced. Well-crafted legislation in this area could help a lot, but content filters aren't it.

I was referring to legislative changes that are currently either in the works or being discussed in Germany as a response to the upload filter proposals based on EU requirements.

Only have a German link at hand but it's definitely not helping the little folks, e.g. this breakdown was cited with the remark "bloggers don't even make the cut to appear in the statistics". https://www.golem.de/news/leistungsschutzrecht-so-viel-geld-...

I'm by no means arguing that legislation wouldn't help, I'm honestly of the opposite opinion. I just see content/upload filters as a bad idea and broken by design, apologies if I didn't get that across in the previous comment.

Government intervention (draconian copyright laws) is how we got here in the first place.

governments not acting is however not going to fix it

Once again, this illustrates how modern tech companies (primarily Google) are failing in terms of overall correctness of following or apply rules - apparently primarily because they choose not to employ enough humans in the process.

In most of these cases of unreasonable takedowns or account closures, there is no way to reach a human to have the case reviewed reasonably. It seems to (almost?) always depend on somehow finding an employee, such as often happens when someone posts their story here on HN.

I haven't read the annual report of Alphabet lately, but I can safely assume they are making enough profit that they could afford to make improvements in these systems (by employing more humans in key positions and by slowing or limiting the chances of automated processes reaching terminal decisions).

There are many potential technical solutions to solving the problems of identifying copyright infringement and mediating the dispute between parties in a way that is fair to all involved. But why is the current system a dumpster fire? It seems Google/YT doesn't care because the companies sending out fraudulent disputes are many times the the same companies spending $$$ on ads. Without any real penalties for fraudulent claims (correct me if I'm wrong) they have every incentive to send out disputes by the truckload just to see what sticks.

The only real damage done to Google/YT as a result of fraudulent disputes like these are to it's reputation of not being friendly to creators - a view I think is already firmly rooted. We desperately need alternatives but it's an uphill battle the whole way with huge barriers to entry...

The solution is to go nuclear and enshrine adversarial balance in law.

If a company, or an agent acting in their name, makes a fraudulent copyright claim, then have the wronged party name one item in the offending company's catalog that becomes public domain. Any contractual losses for entities who were benefiting from royalties in the said work are the offender's problem. Not only do the copyfraudsters lose a (possibly much more valuable) item from their catalog, they'd also have to compensate those whose incomes they have affected with their fraudulent acts.

Align the incentives and make the stick painful enough. People being people will take care of the rest.

Judge: "BigMedia, this court finds you made a false copyright claim for Billion Dollar Movie. Per 123 USC 8675309, you must select one item from your catalogue to release to the public domain."

BigMedia: "Your Honour, we select This Cheap Crappy Z-List Movie We Made Just To Serve As Ablative Armour In Disputes Like This."

Which is exactly why I specified that the wronged party gets to name the item in the other's catalog.

No regulatory change will make any difference here unless you ban Content ID via new regulations. Google opted out of the DMCA claim-and-takedown system in order to avoid being harassed by big companies like Viacom, the system people are dealing with is broken by design because it's the system Big Media demanded. As a result none of these claims go through legal channels and there is no way to apply legal penalties, all the users consented to this system in the 375th version of the YouTube Clickthrough Terms of Service.

What's to stop me, jbay808, from sending fraudulent copyright claims in Disney's name, against you, bostik, as part of a coordinated plan to make Star Wars public domain?

Nothing, but you wouldn't be an agent.


No law anyone passes will ever push a Disney property like Star Wars into the public domain, no matter what was written into it

But on the other hand, nothing's going to stop you from filing fraudulent DMCA claims. The few measures in the law designed to discourage it don't work.

Not with that attitude.

Back in July I saw an article[1] which mentioned Youtube will introduce a new system where copyright holders would have to specify specifically which part of the video had the copyright infringing content.

This seems like a good solution since it makes it harder to just sling copyright claims left and right, and make it so entire videos don't get taken down.

Unfortunately it looks like either it was never introduced, or did not end up working as hoped.


[1] https://www.engadget.com/2019/07/10/youtube-copyright-claim-...

> ...or did not end up working as hoped.

Or media companies found it onerous.

Some commenters here seem to know which part of their video was flagged, so it sounds like it was implemented and had no effect.

> But why is the current system a dumpster fire?

Lack of incentive to care. They're too big, and what can the small user or uploader do except whine?

It's always the same problem with massive power asymmetry.

And very strong incentive (ie lots of expensive lawsuits) to care in the other direction.

Create the same incentive in the direction that you care about (maybe also with lawsuits) and maybe something will change.

The root of this problem is that copyright lawsuits in the US are solely handled in federal court, and it typically costs $100k+ to pursue this kind of lawsuit. As a result of this there are significant penalties for infringement, with statutory damages of up to $30k per work infringed, and up to $150k for willful infringement. This means that maintaining safe harbor protections is essential, and a platform has no choice but to err on the side of caution because of the damages at stake. If there was a small claims court, or some other venue where copyright cases could be heard the law around statutory damages could be changed, and it would be less risky for platforms to decide in favor of content creators more often.

You know the law is broken when even legal experts can't exercise their right to the fair use of copyrighted works for the purpose of educating others about copyright litigation.

Ah, but they did exercise those rights. Oh, it was expensive; too expensive for the average creator to have exercised those rights. I think that's the message: the cost of making sure you and your content are treated correctly.

I don't think they got to exercise their rights. They only succeeded by using private back channels, and they only succeeded in making the problem disappear. If they had been able to exercise their rights, they would be able to sue for costs. They demonstrated that the processes provided by Youtube to exercise their rights do not work, and for people not in the inner circle your only recourse would be to sue for damages.

I think a lots of people end up having a reaction like "well they're trying their best! what else are they going to do!? it's basically an impossible problem!" to things like this and other recent youtube headlines.

That reaction betrays an assumption that YouTube must exist at its current scale in its current form, just because... it does already. And I think that assumption is dead wrong: we're bumping up on all kinds of emergent phenomenon (conspiracies, runaway recommendations) and issues (copyright, borderline child porn) that cannot be solved, and we shouldn't let Google give us their best-effort compromise. If you can't address these kinds of problems in your product, don't fucking build it.

There’s an interesting meta-phenomenon here. I call it automation handcuffs. A platform grows massively due to radically eliminating the policy and bureaucracy infrastructure that others have (YouTube vs typical content distro channels). That same platform is now so big that it has to add back in that bureaucracy and policy that it lacked. However, it’s now so big that it must use automation to solve these problems or else go bankrupt hiring people. In the end, society gets a half-measure. The platform is too big to legalize. The existing players are too small to compete. Users are forced to accept substandard experiences.

> it’s now so big that it must use automation to solve these problems or else go bankrupt hiring people

This is what Google and Facebook would like us to believe, but I'm not convinced. What it really comes down to is that they'd very much like to stay in the realm of automation, especially Google who are notorious for keeping humans out of the loop at any cost. See the long history of problems with their automated "developer relations" on Android. And the problem is that the disincentives for continuing to fail at these halfway-automated tasks are simply not strong enough to force their hand.

So they can just keep "doing their best" with automation, even though automation itself is far from the best they could do.

Here, let me reword it:

> it’s now so big that it must use automation to solve these problems or else swim in slightly shallower pools full of money hiring people

How else can they actually operate the platform without automation? Android app store submissions weren't even within several orders of magnitude to the scale of YouTube & Facebook videos.

I think something like 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute to YouTube. How do you propose people review that in real time? Just to keep up in real time you need (300*60) 18000 people watching the videos and not falling behind, which means you likely need at least 5x that number.

I don't think they need to screen all content in real time, but they certainly could use more people in reviewing flagged content and resolving disputes. This seems to be where all the major complaints -- it's just so hard to get a sane resolution when you are a corner case and the algorithm has decided against you.

I didn't say without any automation. I'm saying that when these unreasonable cases come up, and people appeal, there often isn't even a human brought in at that stage (or at least, not one who's given enough bandwidth to legitimately investigate the situation). Example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19124324

Cases like this, and the OP, are common-sense to any human being. Google doesn't especially want them to be resolved in this nonsensical way, they just don't care enough to direct the necessary resources to make sure a human touch is applied to them.

This doesn't apply to your example, but for copyright, what is there to prevent a content stealer from spamming the appeals? You can ban or demonetize their account, but that's basically the status quo.

Also, YouTube doesn't want to settle disputes because that makes them liable to be sued if they happen to be wrong.

At a globally generous $20/hr/person, 360,000k/hr, 24/7, that works out to about 3ish billion per year, maybe 5-6 with overhead. That's an upper bound for 100% review.

There are tons of levers to pull to reduce volume without reducing profit (e.g. replace "nyancat for 24h" with a loop option), and they don't have to review everything.

If we limit review to copyright claims only, the hourly cost may be higher per person, but the review volume would be much lower.

If you don't have your account verified, your videos have to be verified by an actual human - leading to week long queues to upload anything, meaning that naturally the amount of submitted videos will reduce. If you do get your account verified, your videos go live instantly(as they do now) but if they get flagged, a human has to watch them manually.

So basically, how PornHub works. They cannot risk not reviewing videos because the risk is so great, so they do. And they somehow manage to thrive in their space.

The ask is that they employ real humans to review disputed claims not watch every video uploaded.

Not if you want the products to stay free.

And people really really do.

And for every hackernews poster (including myself) who says things like "I'll gladly pay X$/month for Gmail/Google/Facebook/Youtube just so that my data/privacy remained my own", there is a THOUSAND or more voices that would not.

With distributed hosting there is no need for youtube to monopolize video. They operate at a loss specifically in order to control discourse and collect data. If that were made illegal, alternatives would take over immediately.

go bankrupt

How many people would they really have to hire? YouTube alone made $5 billion in 3 months' ad revenue: https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/3/21121207/youtube-google-al...

To answer that first question: In August 2019, there were 500 hours of video uploaded to Youtube every minute according to <https://www.businessofapps.com/data/youtube-statistics/>. It's probably more now (e.g. it was 300 hours in 2017), but let's go with that number.

That's 720,000 hours per day. If you figure people work 8-hour days, that's 90,000 people. Assuming they never take vacations, don't get weekends off, and really do work 8-hour shifts with no breaks. None of which seems remotely plausible. If we assume 5-day workweeks, 6 hours of actual "productive" time per day, and 2 weeks annual vacation, closer to 175,000 people.

YouTube revenue in the corresponding timeframe is somewhere between $9.5 billion and $14 billion. How much of that is profit and how much is already being spent on infrastructure costs and whatnot is unclear. But 175k people at $50k/year, say, is $8.75 billion/year. Which is getting pretty darn close to those total revenue numbers.

Note that that's $50k expense to the employer (i.e. including benefits, employer-side taxes, office space, etc, etc, not just salaries), which is likely to be an underestimate if these people are in the US.

There's the question of whether every minute of video needs to be watched by humans, of course. But at that point we're back into automation-land to some extent.

You don't need humans to moderate the "500 hours of video uploaded to Youtube every minute". Most of those videos get little to no views and are irrelevant, and then most cases of infringement are clear cut enough that automation can deal with them. Most people don't bother to appeal.

The number of cases that actually need manual moderation would be many orders of magnitude smaller.

Imagine a system that works something like the following:

- Users get access to manual dispute resolution by proving their real identity

- Persons with enough obvious violations (i.e. outright piracy with no possible argument of fair use) are barred from the dispute process

- All disputes get sent to human moderators and handled within 24 hours

- There are multiple levels of appeals, starting at appeals to unskilled laborers and ending at appeals to experienced copyright attorneys

- Going to higher levels of appeals requires paying in a nominal fee that is returned if the claim is overturned

- The final level of appeals can decide the case is too unclear and should be handled by the courts as per the DMCA

- Claimants are penalized some nominal fee for overturned claims

How many moderators would that need? It'd be 1,000 at most. Majority of them would be outsourced laborers costing around $20-30k, with a few experienced attorneys costing $200-300k for the final stage of appeals. Total cost $20-30M. That's a lot of money, but still only 0.5% of their actual revenue. Such a system would surely create far more value both to the company and to the world.

Thank you, that does sound like a reasonable setup!

question of whether every minute of video needs to be watched by humans

Not even close. We're talking a small % of videos that receive copyright takedown requests, which is already a small % of all videos uploaded.

Revenue isn't profit, they don't have $5B to spend on human reviewers.

If government wasn't broken, users would have have the power to say we don't want these substandard things in our society.

Users are very happy with YouTube experience, and are unlikely to support new regulations which would degrade it: in fact, they'd rather support opposite. It's the small content creators that aren't happy with YouTube quasi-copyright private regulatory regime, but they don't have political power to do actually do anything about.

What regulation do you have in mind that would degrade the Youtube user experience?

Anything that would require significantly increasing human review would result in significant reduction of the amount of content on the platform, for example.

Is that true?

Imagine if DMCA appeals required a human review on channels above a certain size, for example.

1000% agree with this.

It’s crazy how we as a society just accept this as the new status quo as if the world would fall apart if these services were scaled back or redesigned in such a way to reduce sharing and content proliferation on a mass scale. Sure, billion-dollar businesses have been built around these apps, but that alone shouldn’t justify their existence.

Sadly, we’ve seen this before. Back in the 70’s, Ford sold the Pinto knowing that it would result in deaths due to the location of the gas tank. Basically, if they got rear-ended, the gas tank had a decent chance of exploding and killing the driver. Instead of issuing a recall, Ford surmised internally that it would be cheaper to settle with victims.[0]

Unfortunately, social media companies have been so good at avoiding regulation, to the point that the people don’t have a real way to contest these kinds of practices.

0: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness/

The world would not fall apart if we make it impossible to have YouTube, or, for that matter, if we make it impossible for people to personally drive cars. This would, however, make billions of people, who currently derive great benefits from status quo, very unhappy.

Billions of people use YouTube, and like it a lot. They like it much more than what was available before it, given how much time they spend on it now. They would be very unhappy if government decided that "this alone doesn't justify its existence". Why do you think the government back in 70s, government didn't just say "usefulness of cars doesn't justify their existence" and banned them?

Internet video became possible because of broadband. google/yt did nothing magical or noteworthy, they just operate at a loss so no one can compete.

Imagine GM sold cars at a loss, gaining 99% monopoly of your country, then put GPS trackers in all cars and sold everyone's whereabouts to the highest bidder and allowed a foreign government (the US) warrentless access. You're saying our only option is to stop driving cars. I disagree.

No, the world wouldn't "fall apart" if services like Youtube cease to exist, it just would suck more than it does now, for me at least. And that's true for many things like that: Google Maps, Search, Mail.

Because in either situation (with and without Youtube) there are drawbacks, the question then becomes one of weighing those, rather than blindly deciding to rollback.

Yeah, but I'd argue its larger than YouTube. I think copyright (for digital assets) is near impossible to enforce on the internet - it's akin to the war on drugs. And I don't think we should unbuild the internet.

The new model seems to be: give away all digital content for free (marketing), build a trustworthy brand (to prevent any ol' copy cat from beating you), and sell a service / experience / physical item(s) associated with it.

e.g. When someone uses your song in their YouTube video it should be seen as free advertising for your guitar lessons / live show / t-shirt company.

It's not just songs. Do you want to identify as nothing more but a brand?

Agreed, it's all digital assets i.e. songs, movies, tv shows, books, etc. You can still sell physical assets e.g. vinyl, blu-rays, tickets to shows, hardbacks, etc. like people did prior to the internet, but the driving motivation of most consumers today seems to me to be convenience. Physical is rarely more convenient than digital for anyone these days.

It's not about what I or anyone else "wants" IMO. It's about what is actually possible and then what's desirable for humanity considering the tradeoffs. Like the war on drugs, it can be stated all day how bad drugs are for society, but it's a moot point if you can't enforce a drug free policy. Psuedo-enforcement gives rise to much worse conditions and impacts on society through black markets, misallocation of funds to ineffective counter-measures, and inconsistent punishments.

What are some examples of things you're thinking of that people identify as that are not just brands and how do you see them as distinct?

I believe that freedom of information is more beneficial to society than any single individual's or company's claim to copyright. Will creativity suffer? Perhaps, but I don't think creative people can help but be creative (nor will people stop sharing it online). Creativity is not what's at stake; it's the established model of monetizing that creativity that is in jeopardy.

I don't think it's crazy that the internet has changed things. I think it's crazy to not change along with it.

So your take is that since Google sometimes removes content that is actually legal, the solution is... to remove all content?

How is that in any way better than the current situation? Currently, there is a chance your video will be pulled from YouTube, and you might get your entire account banned... meaning a fraction of people don't get to use YouTube to host their videos.

If instead, we just shut down YouTube, then.. everyone doesn't get to host on YouTube...

I don't get how that is better

> So your take is that since Google sometimes removes content that is actually legal, the solution is... to remove all content?

No, their take is to refuse to allow socially harmful monopolies to exist just because they already do. The problem is that Google want YouTube to own everything to do with video, and don't want to take any responsibility for making that work at the scale they want to profit from.

There's no good reason for YouTube to be there for hosting personal videos, music videos, education videos, vlogs, game streaming, and a bajillion other things. There's no good reason not to have more humans involved in assessing and tidying up when "the algorithm" fucks it up.

> No, their take is to refuse to allow socially harmful monopolies to exist just because they already do.

How is youtube being the most popular video site (a monopoly I assume you're arguing there) socially harmful? And is that harm more than the benefits it brings?

> The problem is that Google want YouTube to own everything to do with video, and don't want to take any responsibility for making that work at the scale they want to profit from.

If it was very profitable and technically possible to build a similar system but better, we'd have that. The fact that instead the opposite is happening (consolidation) seems to suggest that whatever Youtube is doing is working, as a solution to this problem (large free third party video hosting site).

> There's no good reason for YouTube to be there for hosting personal videos, music videos, education videos, vlogs, game streaming, and a bajillion other things.

And you get to decide that for all the people that enjoy those clips and want to host them?

> There's no good reason not to have more humans involved in assessing and tidying up when "the algorithm" fucks it up.

Other than hurting the bottom line probably not. But the bottom line is what determines if something like this gets built. If it was sufficiently profitable and feasible to build alternatives that do a lot more human reviewing of all these videos then it would already be done so.

SMH It seems like you are disagreeing just to have something to type.

> How is youtube being the most popular video site

The reference is to the music industry monopolies. Read the post.

> The problem is that Google want YouTube to own everything to do with video, and don't want to take any responsibility for making that work at the scale they want to profit from.

> If it was very profitable and technically possible to build a similar system but better, we'd have that.

Not true. "better" is a matter of perspective. Better for copyright holders? Nope. Better for society? Yes. The winners are still winning (pun intended).

> And you get to decide that for all the people that enjoy those clips and want to host them?

That wasn't the implication. The issue is that there is no alternative that is widely accessible (and conversely as profitable). "There's no reason" meaning that there's no technical reason, only a socio-economic reason.

> There's no good reason not to have more humans involved in assessing and tidying up when "the algorithm" fucks it up.

> Other than hurting the bottom line probably not.

Right. But you just have to go off script there, because you didn't get the opening you wanted. This is why we can't have nice things. Even the intellectuals want to troll, rather than contribute (guilty as charged). I just hate to see mischaracterization of rational discussion.

Humanity built the pyramids. We went to the fucking moon. To say basic content moderation is impossible by "the best and brightest software engineers" is such a cop out.

The real impossibility: "doing it while still optimizing for the greatest amount of ad revenue".

This is a very important distinction.

YouTube Kids was the service where this really stunned me: How could it possibly make sense that a service designed specifically for children can’t be properly moderated?

Even of they had one single employee manually reviewing the full content of all submitted videos, they would have 6-8 hours of safe content each day. With an automated quality check first, they could have had 6-8 hours of excellent safe content per day.

Instead they created a service that damaged countless children.

For the sake of ad revenue.

> Humanity built the pyramids. We went to the fucking moon. To say basic content moderation is impossible by "the best and brightest software engineers" is such a cop out.

You can easily get everyone to agree on the answer to "is there a pyramid right here?"

Try getting them to agree on "is this video valuable?"

I agree, and say similar things when talking about holding social media responsible for the things posted by users.

If you want to be a "carrier" you can't moderate anything. If you are going to moderate some things, you have to be responsible for all things.

If your business can't work within those rules, then go out of business.

The problem isn't the scale of Youtube, it's the scale of the Internet. If Youtube didn't exist, we'd still have billions of people posting billions of videos, and who is going to take the time to police it all?

Extending your argument about Youtube to the Internet & humanity, I think you're arguing that if we cannot address these kinds of problems in our Internet, then we shouldn't fucking build it. I disagree. I think we're better off with the Internet even though these moderation problems are unresolved.

>That reaction betrays an assumption that YouTube must exist at its current scale in its current form, just because... it does already.

No, YouTube must exist at its current scale because a lot of people find it massively useful. Your argument is no different that saying we shouldn't have cars because some people get behind the wheel drunk. The argument you should be making is the impact of YouTube a net-negative on society or a net-positive and for YouTube specifically you'd have to convince me its a net-negative.

In any case, copyright and borderline childporn are problems with the internet in general, but I don't see why you stop at dismantling YouTube instead of just turning the entire internet off.

I completely disagree with that. I think that even with all the issues small content creators run into because of overzealous automated systems, Youtube's overall value to me has been tremendous across its lifetime. Every day I watch some new clip and learn something new. It's just not imaginable to look back before we had free third party video hosting, to me at least.

Thing is, if Youtube wouldn't function for most people then it wouldn't get that many viewers then the ads wouldn't be paying as much then it wouldn't exist. But practice proves that it can exist, with lots of compromises being made err-ing on the side of the large copyright holders. Maybe it's possible to build alternative systems that work better, there's no law that says there can't be alternatives to Youtube so let's see if it happens. If not, that itself should be a strong enough signal that maybe the way Youtube is done may be one of the _few_ ways this can be done.

> If you can't address these kinds of problems in your product, don't fucking build it.

If they’re so intent on moving fast and breaking things in search of growth, the only way to introduce skin in the game is that old adage “you broke it -> you bought it”

I think the issue is that anything that is uploaded is freely searchable. I think they need to force everything into a channel structure. You apply for a channel and have to designate the content type, etc. and that requires humans BUT it also lets you earn from advertising so it is a hoop worth jumping through for most. It is also probably 90% of the views on YouTube today anyway. Search merely shows you a representative channel video and then you have to subscribe and opt-in to that kind of content. People will have to host random garbage somewhere else.

I agree that upload anything, search anything, view anything can never be moderated or sustained.

I don't think this is a useful view.

We, as a society, clearly want YouTube to exist. The fact that Youtube/Google's efforts and our current legal frameworks cause problems in edge cases doesn't mean we should just give up.

We, as a society, clearly want streaming video hosts which allow free accounts and public uploads to exist. Youtube doesn't need to be (and isn't even) the only site to offer that.

Also, Youtube didn't have a lot of these problems before getting acquired by Google, so they're not inherent to the nature of the platform. Youtube could still exist with different, less hostile policies.

>borderline child porn

I don't know what you are referring to but how can something be "borderline child porn"? It would think either it is or it isn't. Legal or illegal?

The problem is the legislative framework in the US. The definition of fair use is not clear enough. You need to get together and amend the laws to make it much clearer what is fair use. If the law stated (for example) "a song playing in the background in a coffee shop for less than 10 seconds is fair use" then youtubers wouldn't be joking "Better hurry past this coffee shop so I don't get a copyright strike".

Less whining about the problem and more work on a legally helpful definition of Fair use would help everyone.

(Consider other countries which have clearer fair use policies where they clearly indicate "how many pages of a book can be copied" etc. This needs to be updated to include video, i.e. "How many seconds of a video can be shown/sampled" with no subjective test of "if deemed in the public interest, or newsworthy etc". Just a simple blanket rule. "People can clip up to 10 seconds of video" or something like that.

Even with a clear definition, private entities don't have to honor fair use privileges. Their server, their rules.

The (well, a) problem here is that the legal system is misclassifying youtube as a private entity, rather than as the public common carrier that it in practice actually is.

While that is technically true, in practice the private entities are beholden to the creators themselves, and the viewers stand up for those creators.

If creators and viewers knew definitively what was legal and what was not, they would choose to fight back loudly and publicly. My proof? Despite that solid footing, they already do.

A simpler definition of fair use would definitely make automation easier! But is the simpler definition one we actually want or intend? Lots of laws are complicated because they’re the product of years and years of iteratively modeling a problem with lots of feedback and edge cases accounted for - why should we prioritize Google’s ease-of-enforcement over _the thing we actually want to be the law_?

I don't see that sort of thing working. Too much relevant gray area.

For one thing, something that is playing in the background, where it doesn't sound good as music and where there is talking over it, isn't the same as having music edited in with good quality. Using 10 seconds of a song, in high quality, for your opening title sequence is probably a lot more of an infringement than having 30 seconds of dialog, where there happened to be music from someone's car radio faintly audible in the background.

I'm not arguing for the status quo (I think it is very broken), but I don't think such simplistic solutions would actually work.

Fair use is essentially a codification of the common law principle that "some copies no one cares about." The problem isn't that it's not clear enough; the problem is that fair use is contextual and automation of contextual discovery is not really possible.

I'm a hobbyist musician. I put some of my work on SoundCloud and license it CC no-commercial. A fan made a video to my work using public domain footage of various DNA processes. It happens to resemble the background of an old Bjork video. It was auto-striked as containing content belonging to her label due to the similarities in the video content. In reality they are violating MY copyright if the video happened to ever generate any revenue. I made an account just to post this. It's a sad situation.

Generating revenue alone does not make it commercial use in the context of copyright

Correct, perhaps that is arguable, especially given the grey area this is all taking place in. I was speaking to the reality that if you're a popular YouTuber, and your content gets striked in this way, all revenues from that video go to them instead of you. This is especially terrible for music related content creators, fair use essentially does not exist for them.

The situation is now so silly that some people are circumventing the system by copyright claiming their own videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieErnZAN5Eo

This enable them to at least get some of the revenue of their video (by sharing with other (often bogus) claimants), and to monetize re-uploads (something normally available only to big channels).

Why Google doesn't do anything about this mess is beyond me.

This unfortunately is not the case for most poor users. No such muscle and resources.

“This would have been a dead end for most users. Unable to understand how the already opaque dispute resolution process might impact the status of their account, they would have to decide if it was worth gambling their entire YouTube account on the chances that their some combination of YouTube and the rightsholder would recognize their fair use claim.

Since we are the center at NYU Law focused on technology and innovation, it was not a dead end for us. We reached out to YouTube through private channels to try to get clarity around the copyright strike rules. While we never got that clarity, some weeks later we were informed that the claims against our video had been removed.“

>We discovered that if we continued to challenge the accusation of infringement and lost, our video would be subject to copyright strikes. If the account was subject to multiple strikes its ability to live stream could be restricted or the account could be terminated. While our colleagues in the communications department were highly supportive of our efforts, they were concerned that one misstep could wipe NYU Law’s entire YouTube presence off the internet.

To be clear, if you dispute and counternotice everything, then the only way this would happen is if the other side actually sues you, which is incredibly unlikely here.

That's not how I read that. "lost" in this context simply means the so-called copyright holder clicks the button that says "nah, still can't use my stuff" that's considered a strike.

The "Resolve a copyright strike" section of [1] includes:

> There are three ways to resolve a copyright strike:

> [...]

> 3. Submit a counter notification: If your video was mistakenly removed because it was misidentified as infringing, or qualifies as a potential fair use, you may wish to submit a counter notification.

That's not entirely clear whether the copyright strike is removed when you submit a counter notification, or whether the status of the copyright strike is resolved after further proceedings.

I think the strike is removed immediately upon submission of the counter notification, because I think this is the action that moves the dispute fully into the formally defined DMCA takedown legal procedure and out of YouTube's own content ID procedures. But Google's documentation is obviously avoiding any clear statement of user's rights and what's required by law vs by Google policy. Google and the big copyright cartels want the system to continue to function largely on intimidation, and don't want it to be too easy for users to find and exercise the "sue me or fuck off" option they are legally entitled to.

[1] https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2814000

The strike isn't removed until after ten days, but the effects are paused during that period. The content will stay down during that period but the account is fine.

I don't want to ascribe particular motivations to Google here, but I agree that more people should be aware that they can dispute and counternotice and won't be harmed except in the very unlikely case that they actually get sued.

This also assumes that the entity that made the original claim doesn't just come back and say that your counter-notice is invalid. Google doesn't actually check that they are telling the truth and will just suspend your account permanently instead.

If you involve some lawyers and media pressure they might reverse the decision, but if you are just a random person without a legal team on call 24/7 you're SOL.

>This also assumes that the entity that made the original claim doesn't just come back and say that your counter-notice is invalid. Google doesn't actually check that they are telling the truth and will just suspend your account permanently instead.

Not how it works. They need to actually file a lawsuit.

> The strike isn't removed until after ten days, but the effects are paused during that period. The content will stay down during that period but the account is fine.

The stuff you're saying in this thread all sounds plausible, but I have no idea where you're getting this information and there are plenty of other plausible interpretations of the vague Google documentation I've read so far. Can you please provide some more authoritative sources for your claims? Because as-is you're not really reassuring anybody.

I did some in depth research a year ago and linked to all the Google resources there. See https://www.reddit.com/r/YoutubeCompendium/comments/aga8yl/h... and also see the EFF link there.

Specifically, https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2814000 mentions the courtesy period for anyone that's actually monetized and says the account won't go down at all if counternotices are sent. There's no courtesy period for accounts that aren't monetized (I.e. Not part of the Partner program). But of course if you're not monetized you have very little reason to dispute a content ID claim, since that also doesn't harm your account.

Which is why I felt the need to clarify, since OP is somewhat misleading.

A strike is a DMCA notice that's submitted. That can be counternoticed and the only way to prevent that is filing a lawsuit within 10 business days.

Right. The DMCA takedown process is more reasonable in this regard: if you post a counter-notice, the service provider puts your content back up and the party trying to make a copyright claim has to sue you. YouTube, on the other hand, makes purported copyright holders the absolute judge of their own cases.

This is incorrect. If a rights owner refuses to retract in the face of a dispute, YouTube will require them to convert it into a DMCA notice and will then honor any counternotice.

I've seen multiple reports from channel owners who have not been given any such option; the message saying that the supposed "rights owner" has confirmed the dispute is presented as "final" (along with the copyright strike). Unless this has changed recently, or there's some obscure link to switch to the DMCA process?

Got any links?

The only exception I'm aware of is a special agreement Google has with UMG where they ignore counternotices and appeals, but they also don't count as strikes and won't hurt the account in that case.


Describing it as "won't hurt the account" is a bit misleading. They won't nuke your account ("at this time"), but they also won't let you post the legal non-infringing content that the cartel has paid Google to suppress. That would generally qualify under the broader meaning of "harm" that applies during legal disputes.

It may hurt you in that sense, but not the account. I think it's pretty clear what I meant by that. Regardless such cases are fairly rare, vast majority of cases I've seen people complaining about YouTube issues have nothing to do with the UMG deal and I haven't heard of any other companies than UMG subject to this.

With Google's questionable policies, buggy automatic decision-making and notoriously terrible support? Unless they're sure they can make their complaint go viral, the risk feels quite high.

What policy here is questionable, what automatic decision here is buggy?

You don't need any virality to get a DMCA counternotice accepted.

Google has a long history of "oops, sorry we did $badThing to your account. We see now that it was a mistake. Thank you for going viral on Twitter/HN/Wherever our employees happened to see it" as customer/creator service. It's not an accident that they don't have appeal systems set up for most issues, it's a policy.

> You don't need any virality to get a DMCA counternotice accepted.

Would you risk your livelihood that some engineer wasn't tired when they wrote the interface? Remember: if something goes wrong, your account might be toast, and you can't talk to anyone that can help you. Unless you go viral.

If it's a liveihood issue, there's a 7 day grace period for anyone that's monetized before the account is shut down due to blocks. And if Google was widely ignoring counternotices there'd be lots of stories about it out there. I think I've seen one or two that were quickly handled.

>To be clear, if you dispute and counternotice everything

This isn't happening under the DMCA, it's Google's own brand of copyright process more tailored to appeasing the giant media companies.

I'm well aware. If you dispute content ID claim the content owner must submit a DMCA notice to keep the claim active.

A couple things I'm confused about here. Was NYU monetizing this video? Is that where the grounds for dispute are? If that's true, would demonetizing the video clear out the disputes? Even though this clearly falls under fair use, it's still something that was unclear to me.

I'm surprised there's not a serious case against Youtube/Google for denying people the right to Fair Use. Is this because people don't have to use Youtube? Is this in the Youtube contract somewhere? Is it because Fair Use doesn't work like that? If you provide a platform like Youtube for people to use, are you not held legally responsible for protecting Fair Use laws the same way you'd be held liable for copyright infringement if you didn't give corporations/people the ability to dispute?

If Youtube allowed all videos to exist regardless of copyright infringement, and didn't lay out any paths for claims, would they be in legal trouble? Is this not the same as automatically removing obvious Fair Use content?

A copyright violation does not just remove your right to monetize the content, it also removes your right to determine if the content is monetized. The copyright holders who claimed infringement can decide to allow the content and force it to be monetized for their profit.

It's worth noting that while this is the most common mechanism employed by youtube.. it is possible with the same system to just remove the right to have the video (or at least that segment) published at all.

But the general business youtube has pursued, which in fairness, is partly to make it possible for people to publish videos with such works in the first place, is that most copyright holders will allow the work to be use but instead the entire video (regardless of how significant that small copyright portion was) is monetized to the 100% benefit of the copyright holder.

There are some plusses to this, in that it's easy (and free) to actually publish a video containing copyrighted works. And that in general by working with all the publishers to do this, it has in theory prevented them from chasing YouTube harder to disallow any such content.

The downside is the entire system is one sided and the review and oversight process is clearly lacking. I could understand a little how this happens with small channels... but I frequently see channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers (who are typically full time youtubers) and sometimes even millions.. get the same lack of oversight to their claims.

To me it's crazy that the "3 strikes" rule applies just as equally to accidental and incorrect violations on an otherwise very active and largely original channel (that posts 1 video a day making it very easy to accidentally or incorrectly get recognised as having a violation) as it does to a 1 video channel with no subscribers that is actually violating copyright. It boggles the mind that there is no scale applied.

And time and time again I witness channels I watch have this same process of having to somehow reach out to someone at youtube by yelling on twitter or hacker news and then problems just "go away". Even those with millions of subscribers that have internal youtube partner managers.. often those channels still can't solve these problems. It's madness.

Fair use is an affirmative defense against copyright infringement. Broadly speaking, this means that it is legally irrelevant until you are accused in court of copyright infringement, at which point it becomes relevant.

What happens in Youtube is probably covered by the terms of service (like most people, I haven't actually read it in detail, so I don't know the specifics of how it will play out, but the idea should be generally correct). Terms of service is basically a contract, and contract law totally lets you prohibit one party from doing things that are otherwise legal. So fair use doesn't matter, unless it's written into the contract, which it almost certainly isn't.

The other dimension to bring up is DMCA. This absolves Google of any copyright infringement so long as they expeditiously respond to takedown notices and forwards them to the respective user. The user can object, at which point the original copyright owner must file a lawsuit. Only in the lawsuit will fair use be considered (this is one of the criticisms of DMCA). However, the ContentID system at play in Youtube is not a DMCA takedown system; it is completely independent, and thus DMCA does not apply here in the slightest.

> Fair use is an affirmative defense against copyright infringement.

This is a misnomer.

Fair use is an authorized use, and consequently is “distinct from affirmative defenses where a use infringes a copyright, but there is no liability due to a valid excuse, e.g., misuse of a copyright.” Id. Lenz, 815 F.3d at 1152

The automated copyright filter isn't going to pass revenue onto the artists YouTube and the rights holding giants want to claim that it will. This is a system that Youtube essentially poured $100M into building to keep the big licensors on its side (and avoid any surprise bills from them) and, with Article 13 in the EU under proposal, ensure any new entrants struggle to meet the technical demands and costs of more misguided regulation. Of course, Youtube would prefer to avoid the burden of this sort of moderation altogether, but it will be convenient when it costs around 9 figures to build anything close to what they have just to avoid the copyright regulation landmines. Pricing power will be further concentrated among the few big platforms and the share going to creators will continue to dwindle.

Well, not really. For instance our Attribution Engine [0], which is much more advanced than YouTube's Content ID is free to all rightsholders and platforms. We make money from taking % from all licensed content, but that also means both platforms and rightsholders generated revenue in the first place.

[0] https://blog.pex.com/introducing-the-attribution-engine-19ec...

>with Article 13 in the EU under proposal

It is not under proposal, it already passed :(

(member states have 2 years to implement it in local regulations)

A point could be made, given that a false claim is a vioalation of the DMCA, that an automatic system must recognize fair use context, erring in favor of the accused. If it fails to do so, it's not ready for production.*

(A possible salvation by the party inflicting the harm onto the falsely accused by allowing a disfunctional system to raise these claims, may be providing funds required for taking the case to court. Else, the entire situation is essentially disproportionate, since, to all probability, the accused party may lack the means to rectify the situation.)

* ) Read: I know, detecting this kind of context is prohibitively complex and probably not in the practical scope of the state of the art. Meaning, the technology is not ready for production.

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