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Friday, September 9, 2016

YouTube's copyright confusion

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

YouTube needs to fix its copyright protection policies, because it is overly restrictive and unfair to YouTube users. This is critical for people who supplement their income or actually make a living via their YouTube channels, but it also impacts very low-end users who never use it for money.

Even I have been impacted by YouTube's heavy-handed policy. I got a notice a while back that someone made a copyright claim on a video of a political rally I posted to YouTube. Why? Because someone at the rally sang a song that is in the public domain. YouTube, being YouTube, disabled monetization on the video. I was not using monetization for my account and I have no intention to use it, but that is not the point.

This is not even an issue of "fair use" of copyrighted content for review purposes, which has caused a number of YouTube users to get copyright strikes against them. (Often, these strikes are unfair when the use of copyrighted content is well within "fair use" guidelines.) In fact, there was one channel that had a video taken down because it was a couple people talking about a movie, with not even one second of copyrighted content!

Obviously, YouTube needs to police copyrighted content. There is a ton of pirated content all over YouTube, including full-length movies, that brazenly violates the copyright owner's intellectual property rights. But if YouTube wants to be fair to both its users and copyright holders, there needs to be some method to discipline copyright trolls for making fraudulent claims.

YouTube is a private service and they are free to be as restrictive as they want to be regarding content posted to their service. However, users are also free to argue against some of the policy decisions regarding what may and may not be posted, and users can also point out the unfairness of certain policies. YouTube is still a relatively new service and the concept of regular people making money from their YouTube channels is very new. I think this will work itself out in the long run via a market-based solution. After all, there are other places to post and watch video. But it is clear that YouTube needs to improve this system.

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