Dear YouTube: Being a YouTuber Shouldn’t Be Terrifying
On the subject of Sterling vs. Digital Homicide and #WTFU
I’m writing this because I love YouTube. I think it’s a wonderful platform that allows for innovative content and has brought us many talented creators. Out of the paid services I have, I spend more time watching YouTube videos with my Red subscription than I do on Netflix or Hulu. I hope that one day I can produce my own YouTube channel, not to make money or to become famous, but because I am passionate about the content; however, I cannot imagine doing so now. That is, of course, partly due to my lack of time and perfectionist nature, but there is a big part of this caused by the lack of protection for content creators.
The problem here is the broken strike system YouTube has. When a video gets a copyright claim by an individual or the Content ID system, that can result in a few things happening. This video will help you understand the Content ID system and the process of disputing copyright claim though there is some strong explicit language. Here is another video touching on the subject from a different perspective, and a little less foul language. I will just mention that when a video is taken down because of copyright infringement that channel receives a strike and is no longer in good standing, which reduces the channel privileges, including the ability to appeal future disputes. When a channel gets three strikes, it is completely removed from YouTube, which can end some YouTubers’ careers.
Now the Content ID system can be tricky to navigate, but YouTubers have found a way to adjust to it. The real danger is the lack of repercussions for false claims. One YouTuber, Jim Sterling, has dealt with this many times as he will do first impression videos of bad games which then anger the developers. These developers then file copyright claims against the YouTuber even though there is no copyright infringement. This is a downright cowardly strategy that doesn’t work, as Sterling has proven through his long spat with Digital Homicide. As of now Digital Homicide has sued Sterling, which I suspect won’t go well since YouTube has already pledged its support legally for Sterling.
This sort of support isn’t universal however. Doug Walker, aka “Nostalgia Critic,” released several videos describing the trouble dealing with copyright strikes and the utter lack of communication from YouTube itself. Another channel, TeamFourStar, creators of the Dragon Ball Z Abridged series, had their entire channel taken down for a day. During that time, they directed their audience to their site housing their video archive, and the channel was restored within a day or two, something which small channels might not be able to do. Whether or not the videos Sterling and TeamFourStar make are transformative enough to be fair use is a grey area, and I’m not going to get into that.
I will mention, however, that YouTube considers these videos valuable just on the basis of them funding Scare Pewdiepie. I’ve been watching the series still, sadly still not wonderful, and episode seven only supports my idea of this being more successful as a team based game show. My point is this: Pewdiepie built his channel on let’s plays. So, if YouTube is willing to fund Scare Pewdiepie and they are willing to defend Sterling legally, why not fix the entire system?
I am not saying kill the Content ID system, I am merely asking why there are STILL no repercussions for false copyright claims? If I were to produce YouTube videos and someone wanted to remove my video for whatever reason they can with little effort. Why not allow the ability to dispute claims while having a strike on your channel to help contest multiple videos? Why not take away the ability to file claims when they after discovering they are false? Truthfully I don’t have the answers for this questions, but I know there’s an answer out there. It shouldn’t take an entire online campaign for YouTube to just respond to the turmoil YouTubers go through daily. If YouTube dedicated half the time they spend making April Fool’s videos on trying to resolve these issues or at the very least maintaining an open dialogue with its creators, I think creators would feel a lot safer at least knowing what’s going on.