How Youtube’s copyright claim system is completely one-sided and broken #WTFU

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We have dealt with a lot of copyright claims on Youtube (and outside as well) during our almost 6 years in the business. Most of them have been dealt with in a good way, but once in a while you get the bad claim… We are going through one such process right now, and we feel this is complete and utter madness.

When you get a claim, you have to research the company that makes the claim to make sure they have the right to make the claim in the first place. Then you have to look at the claimed parts in your video and determine under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act if it is fair use or not. Then you have to decide if you want to place your entire channel’s future at stake and repeal the claim.

If you do, you have to write a paragraph or two about why you feel you have the right to use the material, provide your contact details (including physical address) and sign with your real name.

But what does the claimant have to do? They click one button to claim the content, then they mark which content they believe they have the rights to and you don’t. After that, they just have to wait.

If you repeal the claim, they don’t have to do any research, or much of anything in reality. All they need to do is press another button and Youtube will automatically assume they are right. If you want to take it further, it’s up to you to take them to court… but here’s where it gets one-sided.

You have to provide all your contact details and the claiming party gets access to a large portion of your details during this process, including your affiliations and your real name. Meanwhile, all you get is the name the company has decided to use for the claim. All you have to go on is that one name, and with that Youtube expect you to be able to research the company and be able to contact them for any questions about the claim or to serve the court notice if you chose to take it further.

And they don’t even have to provide any name that you can find.

For one particular set of claims, this has proven to be an impossible task for us. All we have is a three word long name, but that particular name does not show up in any of our searches. Similar names, yes, but not that particular word combination. And none of the ones that are similar in name show any affiliation with the content being (manually) flagged. And since we have no way of contacting them, or even finding them, we cannot know if they hold any rights or not.

We described that the content does fall under fair use, as it is used to demonstrate part of a review and that we do not know if this particular company has any rights to the content at all, hoping that Youtube or the claimant would let us know who they are and why they have the rights.

Instead, we got a mail from Youtube saying the repeal has been denied by the claimant. That’s it! Finito, end of the line.

Four claims are in the air at once and we could only repeal two of them without risking losing features on the channel, and both those were denied, so now we can’t repeal any more copyright claims… ever. All from an anonymous company that doesn’t even seem to exist. And we will never find out who they are or how to contact them. Meanwhile, 4 of our videos are now monetized by this anonymous company, and more claims keep coming in. We are stuck, we can’t do anything at all, and Youtube has not given us any option other than to comply and let anyone who wishes claim our videos and our revenue from them from now to eternity.

Unlike some of the bigger channels during the #WTFU campaign earlier this year, we have no communication channel for Youtube. We can’t even contact them, because there is no contact information for Youtube either. They might not even know the system has broken this badly, because those of us who get affected by it can’t let them know.

And that’s why Youtube’s copyright claim system is one-sided and completely broken.

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