YouTube unveiled a new anti-piracy tool in beta today, one it’s been promising for quite some time, appropriately titled YouTube Video Identification. The tool enables for content creators to signup easily, accurately identify their content, and take their desired action on the “stolen” video clip(s).
The Video ID system works in a fairly simple and painless way. Content owners sign up to the program, providing some basic details on the kind of videos they’re looking to claim and information that correctly identifies them as the owners of the content. Once identified, they can provide all the content they claim to own to YouTube and choose their preferred action with it — whether they want to block it from further uploads and copies, promote it themselves, or even put ads against it and keep a share of the earnings.
If you haven’t been listening, this is the tool every single press article that mentions YouTube manages to cover in its last line. Copyright owners, if the $1 billion lawsuit from Viacom isn’t a clear enough indication, have been longing for such a functionality ever since YouTube’s initial growth spurts from early 2006.
The DMCA is nothing but a large amount of vagueness when it comes to these matters. YouTube claims by providing such a tool for content owners, they’re going “well above and beyond” their legal responsibilities. Expectedly, a host of others — including many of the major distributors and media giants — don’t agree.
A great debate to watch on this topic is the one from O’Reilly’s ETech conference that took place earlier this year between EFF’s Fred Von Lohmann and HDNet/2020’s Mark Cuban. It pretty sums up precise opinions from both sides of the equation, who defend their respective cases with equal merit (although Mark’s comment and hand gesture when he’s talking about pornography on YouTube pretty much takes the cake, but that’s a different story… ).
YouTube’s Video ID tool is currently the only major innovation offered on their part to give content creators a line of defense. If you’re not happy with YouTube’s policies, don’t agree that your job — as a creator and distributor — also involves hours of moderation on a video sharing site, then your only option is for a lawsuit. For a while at least, it doesn’t look like YouTube plans to go any further than the DIY policy it’s created for content owners.
And why would they? I’d be willing to argue 80% of YouTube’s content infringes copyright, and if that’s not one of the main reasons you visit the website for, then you’ve got to be living in a different world.
Here’s the official Rev2 suggestion to media giants and Joe content creators alike on this matter: Use it. Adopt it. Monetize it. Sign up to the program, upload all content that you possibly can, and get YouTube to plaster Google Ads all over your content. If something hits big, I’d be willing to argue the publicity and extra income you’ll get from it will be much more than anything a $1 million lawsuit and the handycapping of a new and disruptive distribution mechanism will buy you. Use the system to your advantage. Gain a new audience. Make some spare money. Five years later, when you look at where the naysayers ended up, you’ll be glad you did.