The eight Congress members who wrote to [Google CEO Sundar] Pachai last week acknowledged the benefits of Content ID, writing in their letter that “we appreciate Google’s efforts to combat the illegal distribution of content on YouTube”. However, they then said: “We are concerned that copyright holders with smaller catalogues of works cannot utilise” the copyright tools. […]
Expanding on this point, the Congress members’ letter goes on: “It has come to our attention that access to the Content ID system is only granted to companies that ‘own exclusive rights to a substantial body of original material that is frequently uploaded to the YouTube user community’. We are concerned that copyright holders with smaller catalogues of works cannot utilise Content ID, making it more difficult or impossible for them to effectively protect their copyright works from infringement and, ultimately, impacting their livelihoods”.
I’ve faced this issue as a music publisher. I’d rather directly submit my works to Content ID than through a third-party distributor, especially as many of our tracks are production music and not commercially released. I’ve reached out and received crickets.
YouTube’s requirement that an applicant’s catalog has to be already ‘frequently uploaded to the YouTube user community’ is a head-scratcher. Applicable music should be in the Content ID system in advance. If it takes multiple viral videos to get an acknowledgment from YouTube, then there’s money due to songwriters left on the table.
Prolific music producer Kevin MacLeod brings up another problem in his interview on 2 Girls 1 Podcast. MacLeod lets anyone use his music for free in videos as part of a Creative Commons license. As an independent music creator, he didn’t have direct access to Content ID. And using a third party for Content ID made no sense. Most of his music is not commercially available and, as anyone could use his music — no questions asked — there’s no money to be made on the distribution side.
The dilemma for MacLeod appeared when other people started claiming his music using Content ID through third-party distributors. That’s right — nefarious folks were seeing this unregistered music racking up views on YouTube and took advantage by registering it as their own.
Eventually, after repeated appeals to YouTube, MacLeod was able to work something out and get direct access to Content ID. But only after the nightmare scenario of video creators using his music, trusting there would be no issues, and then having their videos monetized or pulled by an unknown party.
I planned to set up a Creative Commons catalog for non-commercial user-generated content through my publishing company. But MacLeod’s story gives me cold feet. There’s no way I’m allowing our music used on YouTube without an assurance the rights won’t be questioned. Perhaps Google will heed Congress’s concerns and give rights-holders a choice — to use a third party for Content ID or go direct. That’s not so different than how SoundExchange operates. So, file this story under ‘f