YouTube Adds New Tool to Block Reuploads

When it comes to copyright, YouTube has always been a tale of two very different worlds.

For record labels, movie studios and other large content creators/rightsholders, YouTube has provided access to Content ID, a system automatically matches content in YouTube videos and allows rightsholders to either remove the videos, block them in certain countries, monetize them or simply track them.

However, the system is only available to a small number of creators that meet very specific requirements. For those that don’t meet those requirements, they have to go through the traditional notice-and-takedown system.

That said, in recent years, YouTube has been taking steps to expand access to its more powerful copyright tools. In May 2018 it launched Copyright Match, a service that automatically scans YouTube for uploaded videos, much like Content ID, and allows users to file takedown notices easily.

However, Copyright Match comes with some significant limitations. It lacks many of the features of Content ID, most notably monetization options, and it doesn’t do anything to prevent infringing videos from being reuploaded.

That last limitation may be changing as YouTube is rolling out an update to its copyright takedown form that will allow users to prevent copies of the videos from appearing on YouTube going forward.

It’s a simple and subtle change that may drastically reduce the number of takedown notices YouTube has to deal and may help some YouTube creators better protect their work.

How it Works

To be clear, the new option is not available to all users at this time. It began rolling out last week and may not be available to everyone for a few months.

However, when it is available, it simply an additional pair of tick boxes on their Video Removal Request Form.

To access the form, go into your YouTube Studio dashboard and click “Copyright” on the left-hand side. From there, hit New Removal Request in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

That will take you to the removal request form where you simply fill out the information about the video you want to remove, the original content and your contact information. Below that, you’ll get an option to choose whether you want the video removed immediately or if you’d like to give the channel time to remove the video without a copyright strike.

Below that is a tick box that reads “Prevent copies of these videos from appearing on YouTube going forward” and another box below it that certifies you have exclusive rights to the content and agree to have your contact information shared with those that have their videos blocked.

After that, in the Copyright Match dashboard, you will be able to see if new uploads are being automatically prevented and, if they are, how many copies have been blocked.

It’s a remarkably simple system that may help YouTube prevent countless copyright disputes and also ensure that it is in compliance with shifting copyright rules in the European Union.

Why the Change and Who Does it Help?

This change marks the first time that YouTube is allowing non-Content ID users the ability to block uploads of videos. Though it expanded access to Content ID’s matching tool, it still required users to file the takedown notice. With this tool, the videos never go online in the first place.

That, in turn, probably speaks to a large part of why YouTube made the change. Content ID was not just about appeasing large rightsholders, but it was about automating as much of their copyright enforcement as possible. YouTube has a lengthy history of trying to streamline and automate as much of community standards enforcement, not just copyright.

In that regard, this is very much in step with those efforts. However, it’s also likely that YouTube is doing it with one eye on Europe, which is in the process of implementing new copyright rules that require large services, like YouTube, to use filters to prevent the reupload of infringing materials.

As for whom it helps the most, it’s a move that will provide great relief to YouTubers that, despite not qualifying for Content ID, see a great deal of reuploads of their content. This will be particularly useful for those that have one or two popular videos that are reuploaded regularly but lack either the visibility or connections to participate in Content ID normally.

However, it likely won’t be as big of a win for photographers and musicians. The reason is that the system only blocks copies of that particular video from being reuploaded. So if you’re a photographer or musician whose work is routinely used by YouTubers that put it in a variety of videos, this won’t prevent different videos from featuring in other uploads.

Still, it will prevent someone from trying to circumvent a takedown notice by reuploading the same video.

The main concern about this system is the potential for abuse. Though YouTube makes it clear that abuse of the feature will result in it being revoked, it doesn’t say what safeguards it has in place to detect and prevent such misuse.

That said, YouTube does say it checks the validity of the notice before processing it. However, its track record there is less-than-stellar, leaving many to worry that it could be a tool ripe for misuse, either deliberately or accidentally. We’ll have to wait and see how well YouTube addresses this issue.

Despite those concerns, it’s a good step, and it’s one that YouTube says will be made available to absolutely everyone. How many copyright disputes this tool prevents remains to be seen, but the number doesn’t have to be very high for it to be worthwhile.

Bottom Line

Though Content ID will always be the most desired solution for rightsholders dealing with infringements on YouTube, it’s pretty clear that YouTube is not interested in opening that up to a broad audience. Instead, it is taking features from Content ID and introducing them to other users in a piecemeal fashion.

This is the latest step down that path and a very important one. The ability to prevent reuploads has been one of the most sought after features of Content ID, and it’s being made available to literally everyone. Though there are many questions about how effective it will be and how YouTube will handle abuse, it’s a powerful solution that should help creators address infringement.

Is it a perfect solution? No. But it is a potentially major step in the right direction and may serve as a win-win for YouTube and creators as both will spend less time and resources dealing with infringements.

Here’s hoping that it lives up to its promise.