Home | Business | Google’s Content ID Program Allows Infringements on YouTube
Business Copyright Online Piracy

Google’s Content ID Program Allows Infringements on YouTube

Although Google has recently stepped up its anti-piracy efforts, go to YouTube (that Google owns), and you’ll still see thousands of copyright infringing clips from movies or TV shows like the Simpsons or Seinfeld. Despite being uploaded by individuals with no affiliation with the copyright holders, the media hasn’t been removed. Instead, Member’s of Google’s Content ID Program can use those clips to generate ad revenue, with user’s getting to both see free content or use the content to make their videos.

The Content ID program is a pretty simple concept, although the technology is quite sophisticated. Here is how it works from a user perspective: Members of the Content ID program submit the copyrighted works that they want the Content ID program to track. Each day, Google searches over 400 years worth of videos looking for any content that match the member’s submissions. When one of found, the member is notified. The member can then either ask for the work to be removed or instead, leave the content intact and run ads against it. The Content ID Program currently has 500 members, with the majority having decided that monetizing the infringements is better than banning the content. The program has been very successful and lucrative with over $1 billion dollars paid to program members since 2007.

Digital Fingerprinting

The Content ID program works through a technology called Digital Fingerprinting. Every piece of media has identifying features that can be spotted by software and turned into a code that is unique to that piece of media. Digimarc, a company that specializes in digital watermarking and fingerprinting, explains the technology this way: Fingerprinting digital media works very much like fingerprinting people, relying on innate characteristics of the subject. Human fingerprints are characterized by patterns of loops or whorls; digital media fingerprints are comprised of clues such as audio waveforms and/or video characteristics. In both cases, a database of fingerprints must be maintained, against which to compare fingerprints “found in the field,” and technology is needed to rapidly match fingerprint “evidence” to fingerprints on file.” The database of fingerprints is generated when Content ID members upload content that they wish to track. Digital fingerprints help not just to identify media but also can help distinguish between versions. Imagine 50 pictures of the Eifel Tower from the same exact angle. A digital fingerprint will look at color, hues, contrast, as well as the people walking around, to create that unique fingerprint.

That’s great for users, who want to create mash-ups, karaoke versions of songs, add new voiceovers to popular movies, and any other types of user-generated content based on copyrighted material. According to YouTube’s Matthew Glotzbach, “Content ID has empowered creators to remix, curate and celebrate their favorite songs and videos resulting in videos that are both entertaining legions of fans and rewarding rights holders with revenue”.

Some Users are Upset About Content ID

That’s not to say that everything is perfect with Content ID. There are still a lot of takedown’s generated by the program. In some cases, Content ID flags users who believe their use of copyrighted material is fair use. The result is that their content is either removed or filled with ads, despite the result being a false positive. Fair use, however, is rarely a bright line. Instead, the court must decide if the use is a fair use. So the copyright holders have the right to remove the alleged infringing material pending the outcome of a lawsuit. While digital fingerprinting may be a method for discovery, legally, the copyright holder may be standing on firm ground when it takes an action.

Certain groups also tend to have a greater incidence of takedowns than others. Gamers, for example, have been particularly upset about takedowns of their gameplay videos by what they say are overly aggressive copyright holders. The problem with gaming and other multimedia type content is that the works include multiple rights holders, such as the video and music. While the gaming company may want videos of the gameplay to remain online, the music rights holder may want the clip removed. Since the licensing agreements usually don’t include user-generated video content, the videos must be removed if requested. Mash-up videos are also particularly vulnerable to this problem.

But overall, the Content ID concept seems to be working as intended. Not all copyrighted material posted to the Internet is a bad thing. Not every instance is a lost sale. U0ploading of copyrighted material, while an infringement, may also hold promotional value. On most sites, the copyright holder has only two choices, leave the content up or have it removed. The Content ID program gives the marketplace another choice by adding a new layer of monetization for copyright owners. The more sites that adopt programs like Content ID, the more free content users will have access to, which is good for the consumer.

About the author

Steve Schlackman

As a photographer and Patent Attorney with a background in marketing, Steve has a unique perspective on art and law. Should you have any questions on Intellectual Property contact him at [email protected] His photography can be seen online at Fotofilosophy.com or on display at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

{{Privy:Embed campaign=133844}}

The Latest From Artrepreneur

  • The Educators Molding the Modern-Day Art Entrepreneur

    Struggling to develop the skills necessary to thrive as an art entrepreneur? Educators at the Society for Arts Entrepreneurship Education conference may have some solutions. The post The Educators Molding the Modern-Day Art Entrepreneur appeared […]

  • How Mickey Mouse Keeps Changing Copyright Law

    Copyright duration keeps getting longer, primarily due to Disney wanting to keep Mickey Mouse under copyright protection. Here's how they did it. The post How Mickey Mouse Keeps Changing Copyright Law appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • The Artist’s Guide to Creating a Media Kit

    An artist media kit is a useful tool for getting journalists and art critics to your exhibitions. We review what you should include when creating a media kit. The post The Artist’s Guide to Creating a Media Kit appeared first on Artrepreneur. […]

  • You Don’t Need an MFA to Make It as An Artist

    While obtaining an MFA is the pathway some artists take to further pursue their career, it’s not always a crucial part of developing a distinct and successful artistic practice. The post You Don’t Need an MFA to Make It as An Artist […]

  • When [and Where] to Participate in an Art Exhibition

    Until an artist’s studio has significant resources, it may be difficult to participate in every single art exhibition. Artrepreneur outlines the benefits and drawbacks to consider when weighing local, regional, and international shows. The […]

  • How Do We Calculate the Value of Art?

    Many working artists struggle to price their work. From considering costs and materials to the artist's standing in the marketplace, how does the art world calculate the value of art? The post How Do We Calculate the Value of Art? appeared first on […]

  • The Art of Juggling: Mastering Time Management for Artists

    From designing to pitching, reporting to researching, creatives helming their own practice know that perfecting time management in their workflow produces real results. The post The Art of Juggling: Mastering Time Management for Artists appeared […]

  • Nic Bothma on Photojournalism in a Post-Digital Age

    Award-winning photojournalist Nic Bothma rose to acclaim photographing South African news stories in the 1990s. Here, he discusses how aspiring photographers should approach their business with the rise of camera phones and social media. The post […]

  • Five Art World Headliners on Developing Their Creative Careers

    What are some of the most critical challenges facing emerging artists today? Artrepreneur talks to five art world wunderkinds on what it takes to develop rewarding creative careers. The post Five Art World Headliners on Developing Their Creative […]

  • The End of Advertising? Tribeca Film Festival’s Andrew Essex Weighs In

    In the third installment of the Business of Art radio series, Tribeca Enterprises CEO Andrew Essex discusses the evolution of advertising and storytelling within the creative industries. The post The End of Advertising? Tribeca Film Festival’s […]