How YouTube’s Content ID works

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Content ID is a major part of YouTube. It helps to fight copyright infringement on the video platform. Read on for all info's about Content ID!

Content ID is a major part of YouTube. However, there is still a lot of confusion and frustration with it.

In the first place, it started in 2007 as a reaction from YouTube to the Viacom lawsuit (Viacom International, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc., No. 07 Civ. 2103) and other lawsuits.

Viacom at the time was home of broadcasting shows like Sponge Bob Squarepants and The Daily Show. The complaint was that a lot of Viacom’s shows were uploaded to YouTube without their permission.

2014 saw a final settlement between the two parties. Content ID is Google’s response to the matter of copyright infringement.

How does Content ID work?

YouTube’s Content ID is basically a digital fingerprint system. Google started the rollout in an attempt to fight copyright infringements on its platform.

The fingerprint system constantly checks all uploaded videos on YouTube. It triggers a copyright claim in case there is a match with the Content ID database.

The content owner then has different ways on how to react. In other words, the content owner can decide what happens with the violating video.

Block: you can choose to block the other video from being viewed
Monetize: you can leave the video where it is but run ads against it and generate revenue
Track: the third option is to track the viewers of the video

You only can choose one of the options. However, you can customize your options to various territories.

These actions can be country-specific. For example, a video may be monetized in one country, and blocked or tracked in another.

source: Google

The ad generated money stays with the uploader first until a dispute settlement. The side that won gets all the ad money afterwards.

Fancy learning more about YouTube? Read here The Ultimate Guide To: YouTube

YouTube Content ID bypass

You might be wondering if there are ways to bypass the Content ID. Well, enough people try it every day. You might have come across video uploads of original content that just doesn’t look right.

Maybe the screen has a funny frame. Some even mute the audio.

A point often overlooked with such endeavours. Google is constantly working on improving the system.

YouTube updated Content ID with the ability to detect actual melodies, which helps songwriters track down unauthorized covers.

source: Fast Company

Here is the thing. Some videos indeed will stay up on YouTube. This might mislead many to think they have successfully surpassed the system. In fact, the copyright holder might just have chosen to monetize the video in the background.

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How to get the Content ID for my original uploads?

As with everything on YouTube, there are certain measurements for getting into the Content ID database. The first level is rather straightforward.

Everyone can start a YouTube Channel. However, if you want to monetize your content you already have to take the first hurdle.

You have to have one thousand channel subscribers and four thousand public watch hours over the last 12 months. Oh, and of course you need an AdSense account linked with your channel. Then you can participate in the YouTube Partner Programm.

It is even harder to get access to Content ID.

Content ID eligibility is based on a variety of criteria. This includes whether or not the copyright owner’s content can be claimed through Content ID and their demonstrated need. Copyright owners must be able to provide evidence of the copyrighted content for which they control exclusive rights.

Content ID will match a user’s reference content against every upload to YouTube. Copyright owners must have the exclusive rights to the material that is evaluated. 

source: Google

If you think that sounds rather cryptic than you’re not wrong. What it basically says is that Content ID is for big copyright holders like record labels or publishers.

The best bet for smaller labels and most artists is to get a contract with a Multi-Channel-Network (MCN) or distributor. A YouTube verified MCN has the backend to work with Content ID and to take care of the owner’s digital properties on the platform.

That way they can utilise the rights management the best way.
There is a database from YouTube with all licenced MCN’s and digital distributors.

What is next for copyright on YouTube?

For those creators and uploaders who don’t qualify for Content ID, there is help coming. Copyright Match Tool is Google newest addition to the copyright management on YouTube.

You only need to participate in the YouTube Partner Program. The fingerprint system that powers Content ID and Match Tool is the same. However, the way both right management tools work is quite different.

In Content ID a copyright claim is issued immediately when the system comes across copyright infringement. In Copyright Match Tool, you get a notification but then you have to handle the case yourself.

You have again three actions you can take. However, they differ. You can archive the dispute or issue a 7 days notice to the other person.

The hardest action you can take is to request a takedown. In comparison to Content ID where a match is only followed by a mild copyright claim, a takedown in Copyright Match Tool will result in a copyright strike. That can cause in the long run that a channel will get taken down by YouTube.

Also important to know, the Copyright Match Tool works after a first uploaded first served. That means, if you upload a video, Copyright Match Tool will take this timestamp and match every uploaded video after that moment.

What is more, if a duplicate video of yours is on YouTube you can’t monetize it with Copyright Match Tool as you can in Content ID.

Copyright Protection in digital times is difficult

Data Management and Copyright Protection in this digital era is a difficult topic. Most often there are technical difficulties to master.

As can be seen with Google’s copyright management system. No algorithm is perfect and Content ID sometimes hands out false warnings. The future will bring Google’s newest invention on copyright infringements.

I hope you find this post helpful.

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