Getting Copy-Wronged

Sep 6 2012 @ 4:00pm

For a brief period after Tuesday's convention broadcast, the official YouTube recording of the event was unviewable due to copyright complaints. Ryan Singel explains:

The most likely culprit is YouTube’s pre-emptive content filters, which allow large media companies to upload content they claim to own and automatically block videos that an algorithm decides matches their own. That would make the glitch the second livestream copyright-policing snafu in the span of a few days: On Sunday, a similar algorithm at uStream interrupted the livestream of the Hugo science fiction awards. The award show included clips of copyrighted videos, though the algorithm didn’t know that the clips had been authorized. [Also, in] early August, an official NASA recording of the Mars landing was blocked hours after the successful landing, due to a rogue DMCA complaint by a news network.

A whopping ten companies (or company algorithms) made copyright claims on the convention recording. Tim Cushing fumes:

There's a few of the usual suspects in there, including AP, UMG and Warner, entities not known to be shy about claiming content that isn't theirs.

Now, these entities aren't directly responsible for this takedown. This is more of an automated match situation, but it still doesn't change the fact that the inherent stupidity of the action, automated or not, does absolutely nothing to lock down stray, unmonetized content and absolutely everything to highlight the ridiculous nature of copyright protection in a digital age. If Google can work with copyright holders to produce content matching software, it seems like it might be possible to designate certain accounts or entities as "off limits" from the wandering killbots. If the stream is authorized by, I don't know, the party of the current President of the United States, maybe, just fucking maybe, everything's "above board."

Update from a reader:

There's an easier way to fix the problem than to create a special class of people whose feeds are automatically approved: just penalize anyone who claims copyright infringement falsely. I'd say a "three strikes and you're out" policy would be appropriate. After that, each erroneous takedown notice carries an escalating fine. This puts the incentive on the rights holder to actually make a verified claim, rather than shutting down innocents because Youtube's algorithim was being unfriendly.