Videos on YouTube are often flagged for copyright infringement under the Content ID system, which automatically references a giant database of audio and video files and looks for copies. But in addition to those automatic matches, copyright holders could also make manual claims against videos through Content ID, forcing videos offline or running ads on them for their own monetization. The kicker is those claims haven't even had to specify what, exactly, in the video was infringing—until now.
"Starting today, we will require copyright owners to provide timestamps to indicate exactly where their content appears in videos they manually claim, and we’re improving our video editing tools in Creator Studio to make it easier for creators to remove the content associated with these claims," writes YouTube on its Creator Blog.
Another problem of the old manual claiming system was that claims couldn't automatically be released. That means that even if creators identified the supposedly infringing material, like a song in a certain portion of the video, and removed it, it would still be marked as infringing until someone manually cleared it.
YouTube's Creator Studio page will now show timestamps for the supposedly infringing material and offer some built-in tools for dealing with it without having to upload an entirely new video. It'll be easy to mute the section of video, cut it out altogether, or replace the audio with a song from the royalty free YouTube Audio Library.
This may do little to stop bogus copyright claims on YouTube, which sequesters ad revenue until the claim is resolved. Missing out on that ad revenue isn't going to sink, say, NBC Universal, but it can destroy smaller channels who need that income to survive. It's a common issue with automatic Content ID matches, like when Beat Saber videos started getting flagged because the game was played on Jimmy Fallon's show.
Manual claims, at least, will now have to be more specific. The new process isn't retroactive for existing manual claims, but going forward, YouTube tweeted it will be "evaluating the accuracy of timestamps – failing to provide accurate data is considered a violation of our manual claiming guidelines. Claimants who repeatedly do this will have their access to manual claiming revoked."
Responses to the news via Twitter have been largely positive, but we'll see how that shakes out as automatic Content ID claims remain unchanged.