Tips & TricksWhat is YouTube Content ID and Where’s The Fair Use (#WTFU) – Part 1

Akshay Chandra3 years ago

On February 16th, 2016, You Tuber Doug Walker (a.k.a The Nostalgia Critic) posted a video titled “Where’s The Fair Use?”. In the video, Doug talks about the basic principles of the Fair Use doctrine as laid out in the Copyright Act of 1976, and also highlights several examples of wrongful copyright claims against well-known YouTube channels like I Hate Everything and YourMoviesSucks.

After the video started doing rounds on Twitter and Reddit, #WTFU (Where’s the Fair Use?) hashtag campaign gained a lot of momentum.  YouTube creators were genuinely concerned when they started seeing big channels being affected by false copyright claims. Many channels who had clearly not violated the copyright laws got take-down notices and rightfully, they were quite vocal about it.

YouTube’s Response

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki responded on Twitter to the creator community on behalf of YouTube:

YouTube has said that it’ll do the right thing for the creators. According to their Policy team:

The good news is that the feedback you’ve raised in comments and videos on YouTube and beyond is having an impact. It’s caused us to look closely at our policies and helped us identify areas where we can get better. It’s led us to create a team dedicated to minimizing mistakes and improving the quality of our actions. And it’s encouraged us to roll out some initiatives in the coming months that will help strengthen communications between creators and YouTube support.

We’ll also make improvements to increase transparency into the status of monetization claims. And of course, as we work to implement these improvements as quickly as we can, we’ll continue to take your feedback seriously.

So what is all this technical mumbo-jumbo?

Usually, there are two separate ways a content owner can claim copyright for his/her content –

  • Automated Content ID copyright flags
  • Manual DMCA take-down notices.

Let’s discuss them one by one:

Content ID

Content ID is an automated flagging system and is not controlled by humans. YouTube creators often apply for Content ID so that they can have the option of automatically removing or redirecting the monetization from any video that contains any amount of their copyrighted work. For this; once the creator uploads this audio file or Video to Content ID, it crosschecks that particular file with its database of millions of copyrighted work. If it detects the copyrighted work, then it will flag the video.

These are the options that automatically apply to any video that gets flagged under Content-ID:

  • Mute audio that matches their music
  • Block a whole video from being viewed
  • Monetize the video by running ads against it
  • Track the video’s viewership statistics

However, most of the time, Content Managers choose to redirect all monetization and advertising revenue from the video.


Another Copyright Fight – Lenz v. Universal Music Corp 

So how does one get Content ID?

Applicants for Content ID must provide evidence of the copyrighted material. But there is certain type of videos that may not qualify for Content ID:

  • Mashups, “best of”s, compilations, and remixes of other works
  • Video gameplay, software visuals, trailers
  • Unlicensed music and video
  • Music or video that was licensed, but without exclusivity
  • Recordings of performances (including concerts, events, speeches, shows)

What happens when you actually get a Content ID?

When you get a Content ID claim, you can either accept it or dispute it. If you’re sure that your content is as per the Fair Usage terms, then you should DISPUTE the claim. The decision will not be taken by YouTube; but rather, by the content managers own the video that is claiming the content. The time duration for this is ‘within 30 working days’. And during that time, that particular video will lose all its monetization. However, it’ll be available for viewing. This is exactly what happened to Channel Awesome

What’s coming up in Part 2 of the blog

The Copyright Claim issue is still hot and burning. And creators are concerned. So we thought of making this blog series which will cover the whole scenario from multiple angles. The next part of this blog will cover DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998), Fair usage, 3 copyright strike laws and tips for creators to stay clear of issues (with examples of other creators who faced such issues and tackled it)

Before wrapping up this blog, I want to sign off with this video which talks from another point of view that should not be ignored:

If you want us to cover any particular topic, please leave your suggestions down below.

social video intelligence


Akshay Chandra

Being an artist, movie buff and a media enthusiast, content writing is my career train. I am a proud alumni of Symbiosis Institute of Media Communication (Pune) and currently working for Vidooly.

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