RIP Piracy on YouTube?

Illustration for article titled RIP Piracy on YouTube?
Photo: Chris McGrath (Getty Images)

Anyone with hit with a copyright claim on YouTube can probably tell you about the complicated, confusing, and drawn out hassle that comes with them. Thankfully, the platform is releasing a tool to proactively notify creators about their video’s potential copyright issues before they’re published.

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On Wednesday, social media analyst Matt Navarra tweeted out a screenshot from the feature, which began rolling out in February, that screens a video for “any copyright issues that may restrict its visibility” as it’s being uploaded.

The screenshot doesn’t show much about how this tool, dubbed Checks, will work, but other reports have speculated that it uses YouTube’s automated Content ID tech that’s currently used by copyright holders for sifting through YouTube’s sea of content and finding videos or music that they own. If a video infringing on their copyright gets uploaded, they’re allowed to block the entire video from being played, or they can run ads against the clip to earn revenue off the infringer’s channel.

In an email, a YouTube spokesperson confirmed the new Checks feature, which is accessible through YouTube Studio, saying that the feature is meant to help creators upload videos that comply with its rules. The company also published details about the new pre-publication tools in a post on its community site.

The “informal” Creators Insider, which is made by people who work at YouTube, has some more details about the broader pre-pub check system in the video below. While all creators can use these sorts of scans for potential copyright issues, creators that are running ads on their channel can see how advertiser-friendly YouTube judges their video to be before upload.

If it worked well, Content ID would be a fantastic system—but as the Electronic Frontier Foundation showed in a report on YouTube’s tech from this past December, it’s one that’s historically left creators falsely flagged for copyrighted content, or flagged multiple times for a single video.

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Even if Checks doesn’t use Content ID, it’s still not promised to be a failsafe. As Navarra’s screenshot notes, the scan’s results “aren’t final.” Even if a creator gets the all-clear to post a video, they could still be hit with a copyright claim later down the line.

I cover the business of data for Gizmodo. Send your worst tips to swodinsky@gizmodo.com.

DISCUSSION

would be nice if they gave uploaders the chance to proactively identify or flag their videos as a case of fair use and what specifically qualifies them as such. Like a field of check boxes that allow me to say “hey, this is a parody” or “this is educational” or “I’m submitting this as a review” and so on.