The YouTube Problem

Well the last few days, YouTube has become an interesting place. With the new content ID system that has been implemented by YouTube/Google many people, especially gaming channels and private, one-man review channels have seen their content being matched and so losing their monetization privileges or at worst, having the video being taken down completely.  Joe Vargas, AKA The Angry Joe Show, made a video and said that 62 of his videos have been flagged with a few of them being taken down. [Link]

I have also seen gaming channel YouTubers comment on the issue with many of them being forced to changed what sort of content they produce. RPGMinx, a 400,000 subscriber channel, made a video saying what sort of content she would be cutting. [Link] I think it’s a good look because I think most YouTube gaming channels well make the same decisions soon. Another gaming YouTube channel, EatMyDiction1, (a 480,000 subscriber channel) made a satire video about what sort of content YouTube wants people to produce. [Link]

There are bound to be more videos on the topic. I think reviewers like Total Biscuit may also comment on the issue or not depending on journalistic integrity and swearing. For many game news sites it’s not really their jurisdiction but many have commented. Sites like The Escapist self-host their video content on the site itself so losing YouTube won’t affect them to much of a degree. But Jim Sterling made a video stating his derision in his usual manner. [Link]

IGN (who has a large following on YouTube, just under 4 million subscribers,) commented on the issue as well. It’s article, “Blizzard, Ubisoft, and Capcom offer support after huge spike in YouTube copyright claims” said that ta few major publishers (naming CACOM, Blizzard and Ubisoft,) are willing to help channels get their videos cleared. CAPCOM and Blizzard sent out tweets offering support while Ubisoft released a statement. Ubisoft’s statement said;

“If you happen to be hit with claims on any of your Ubisoft content, it may be that some of the audio is being auto-matched against the music cataloge on our digital stores – it might show up as being claimed by our distributor ‘idol’. In such cases please take the following steps and we can get it cleared for you.

  • 1. Leave the video live for now.

  • 2. Send us the URL of the affected video and let us know who flagged it.

  • 3. We’ll get it cleared hopefully same day.”

The site Kotaku also commented on the problem. In article about the issue, Brad Colburn, AKA TheRadBrad YouTube channel with just under 2 million subscribers, said;

So basically I’ve been on YouTube since early 2010 and I’ve now got over 3,000 videos. On Monday I started getting emails from YouTube every time one of those 3,000+ videos got a third party match. I’ve had almost 75 videos hit with this. What it means is during a 15 minute video of me playing a game and doing commentary taking about MY life, a loading screen will have a 10 second audio clip of in game music. That’s what gets claimed. Not the gameplay but composers of an in-game sound effect or song are doing the claiming. So now all my hours of recording, editing, uploading are used to give 100% of the revenue to that person instead of me.”

Leading off with this, Colburn said that the system is “crippling” his channel. Also in the article, YouTuber Zach Scott, AKA ZackScottGames with 470,000 subscribers, commented on the previous problems what Nintendo released a swath of Content ID claims. He said;

It seems to be the same ContentID system, except all of my matches seem heavily focused on audio and music. When Nintendo claimed my videos before, they seemed deliberate with no references to the claimed content. Now it is all automated, and it’s affected about 2% of my uploads. Some are matched from songs Nintendo has cataloged themselves, whereas most are from 3rd party music licensing companies like Ingrooves, WMG, Loud Digital Network, etc. For example, most of my old Sim City videos have been claimed due to having music from an EA soundtrack. Some of my GTA V videos have been claimed for various music that plays in the background. This is weird because other than Nintendo, this is not the game publishers going after video creators. These are all music publishers and license holders having their catalog of work detected in Let’s Plays by YouTube’s ContentID system. Even some of my videos featuring royalty free music that I’ve bought and licensed myself have been claimed.”

I have only just started out on YouTube (only 10 subscribers) but even for me the content ID system has been constant source of problems and delays. With one case (video link,) a holding company I have never heard of content ID’ed a web review video that used Public Domain content.

Content ID Steam Punk Tower

Then they didn’t reply or remove the block for 28 days after I sent a response. In another case, a claim on one of my videos was wrong. The system had ID it saying that it used a song but the song ID wasn’t the one I used. I used an entirely different sounding song that was under Creative Commons.

The system of content ID matching is automatic. Going through each video individually is simply impractical on YouTube’s side so the automated system is there to allow so many videos to be uploaded. If there was no automated system thee would be much more delays. But the system is just wound so tightly that anything can be selected. A YouTube spokesperson released a statement saying;

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

This basically means that the automated content ID system is now being used with all channels, with all content. YouTube gaming groups like Machinima and Polaris are going be a lot more busy dealing with these claims, most of which get fixed in the end. But with the amount of time that it can take to fix it can mean that YouTuber’s can genuinely lose their livelihood. The usual process is 1.) A video is uploaded, 2.) claims made, 3.) claims replied to, 4.) claims fixed. But because there is a gap between 2, 3 and 4, YouTuber’s can lose advertising revenue. And as most of the views are in the 24-48 hour period a lot of money can be lost.

To look back at this as a whole, the content ID system is very broken. But it is an automatic system. So is YouTube to blame? Kinda. It made it and let go of the leash but would YouTube want this sort of bad press. No. Are the publishers to blame? Kinda. They signed up to the system but its automated so they have no say on what would be flagged and what wouldn’t. It’s a large and complicated issue that isn’t going to go away. I wouldn’t be surprised if this continues well on into next year. We may be still talking about this next Easter. All I know for sure is that YouTube is going to change from this. And this is just one more step for YouTube to become what It wants to become. A film and TV Network.

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