According to a recent article by K. Holt at Engadget, YouTube has begun testing a new system that looks for potential copyright issues as a video is being uploaded rather than waiting for it to be published.
The new system was first made public by social media consultant Matt Navarra, who tweeted about the unusual uploading experience.
According to the image, when he uploaded the video YouTube stopped to perform various checks on it to make sure that it had no copyright issues that would harm its visibility. Assumedly, this includes copyright issues that would get it blocked in certain countries, harm monetization of the video or result in it being removed.
Though YouTube did not respond to requests for comment, it’s believed that the system is using YouTube’s existing Content ID system, which matches uploaded content against an ever-growing database of registered content. When matches are detected, the system takes a variety of actions determined by the rightsholder.
The system, right now, appears to only be available to some desktop users and appears to only be in testing. However, if this system is implemented, it could address a major point of aggravation for many YouTubers when it comes to the YouTube copyright system.
An Ongoing Frustration
Frustrations over YouTube’s Content ID system are legion. Rightsholder are frustrated at pirated content that still makes it to upload while users are frustrated that original or non-infringing content gets marked and either taken down or monetized by original rightsholders.
For YouTubers, one of the more frustrating issues was that Content ID would not warn them of problems before the video was uploaded. This means that, if a video had an issue, they would not be made aware of it until after it had been uploaded to their account for some time.
This led many to use tricks such as uploading videos early but keeping them as unlisted or private so they could have time to sort any Content ID issues out before making them public.
However, in a YouTube environment centered more around premiere videos and strict schedules, that’s become more difficult, and many have been clamoring for a way to address Content ID issues on upload, which appears to be what YouTube is testing.
That said, it’s difficult to say how important this will really be. While it’s nice that YouTube will allow users to address copyright issue as they upload content, including removing allegedly infringing portions, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be surprises down the line.
An Evolving System
Content ID is a constantly evolving system. New content is regularly being added to it, the methods for detection are constantly evolving and, because of that, past matches are constantly being discovered.
Often times, this is necessary to detect unlawful copies that slipped through the cracks previously. Other times, this has had unintended consequences such as when the Content ID system targeted footage of the video game Tecmo Bowl because it appeared in an episode of Family Guy.
Just because a video doesn’t have any Content ID issues at upload does not mean it will stay that way days, weeks or months later. Surprises can and still will happen.
This system will be useful for proactively resolving some of the Content ID issues that YouTubers are seeing but will not completely fix the problem of blindsided uploaders.
Still, with YouTube, even small improvements can have a significant impact.
YouTube has been making a major push in recent months and years to resolve the user-facing issues with Content ID. This includes improving their process for handling manual Content ID claims, changing the rules on when claims can monetize content and more.
Ultimately, all of these changes are minor tweaks and alterations, not big fixes. None of this is the blanket overhaul of the Content ID system that many users want to see. They are attempting to improve and refine the Content ID experience, not alter it.
As we discussed in those above articles, YouTube is trying to maintain a balancing act of keeping both rightsholders and users as happy as possible. For all the flaws the system has, neither side is upset enough to openly go to war with YouTube over the issues.
YouTube isn’t going to make a drastic change unless its hand is forced by one side or the other. Right now, there’s no such force on it and, with the Content ID class action lawsuit against them falling apart, that doesn’t seem likely to change.
So, expect to see YouTube making small but targeted changes to Content ID for the foreseeable future. It may not be what anyone wants, but it’s what the current landscape allows.