Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. The content of this article is not, and should not be construed or taken as, legal advice. If you believe that you are in need of legal advice, please enlist the services of an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction in which you live and/or do business.
This series is here to teach you what I know of the rules and best practices to keep you from running into copyright problems when uploading videos to YouTube based on my experience working as a contractor within YouTube's Content Manager CMS as well as a content creator on the platform. All of the information here can also be found in the Creator Academy, which is available to all YouTube creators, but has been distilled in such a way as to assist you with interacting with the individuals and companies enforcing and managing their rights through the Content ID system.
In Part 1 I explained Assets and policies in YouTube's CMS. This time I'll explain Content ID (CID, what claims are and what happens to a video once it's claimed.
Let's start with claims.
A claim is a link between a single video and an asset so that YouTube knows who is claiming to own content in that video and what that claimant wants to do with that video. There are two ways claims can be made on a video, manual search or automatically identified through CID.
CID is YouTube's proprietary software that automatically detects uses of copyrighted content on YouTube and makes a copyright claim on the video that contains that content.
When a rights holder, such as a record label, creates their asset and includes a reference file in that asset, CID will create a digital fingerprint of that reference file. Once the fingerprint is created, CID will compare it to every single video on YouTube. Any videos that match the reference file will be claimed by the asset that contains the reference and the owner's policy will be applied.
CID is only capable of setting the policy set up in the asset, whether it's monetize, track or block. With manual claiming, the claimant can choose the policy they want to use for a specific video, irrespective of the policy set in the asset or they can issue a DMCA Takedown. It's important to know that the most strict policy CID can do is block, and CID is not capable of issuing a DMCA Takedown. Since DMCA notices are legal actions, they must be done manually. Rights holders can go through CID claims and manually issue DMCA Takedowns after they're matched, but it still has to be done manually.
So, what does this process look like? Why does this need to exist?
I'm glad you asked. Let's say "Awesome New Music" gets ahold of a leaked music video from Ed Sheeran and uploads it to their channel and monetizes it. Not only is "Awesome New Music" distributing the video without permission from the record label and music publisher, they're illegally collecting revenue from that distribution. So, the record label or publisher has two options, either they've already loaded their reference files into CID, which will make the claim or they will manually search for the video and claim it. If the label decides they're ok with the video being viewable and just want to collect their revenue, they'll set the policy to Monetize and the label will receive the revenue instead of "Awesome New Music". If they don't want the video to be available they'll either set a Block policy in CID or manually or they'll issue a DMCA Takedown.
It's important to note that claims do not generally harm your channel standing, they just remove your ability to monetize the claimed video (although there may be penalties if you get too many copyright claims). However, DMCA Takedowns will put a copyright strike on your channel which can result in your channel being removed from YouTube.
In Part 3 I'll explain how to avoid violating copyright in your videos.
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