Opinion: YouTube’s broken copyright system


by Alyssa Craven, Video Editor

The YouTube copyright system has been under fire lately with channels and companies abusing the system. YouTube needs to reformulate its copyright system in order for companies and YouTubers to stop taking advantage of the system.

The video website currently has two ways for videos to be copyrighted. The first is where the video is claimed by a computer that goes through videos and scans their content looking for copyrighted material. If the computer finds a video with copyrighted material, it will flag the video and all of the revenue will go to the owner of the copyrighted material.

The second way involves the copyright holder manually claiming the content of the video. They can choose if they want to claim the revenue from the video or have it taken down.

The YouTuber can dispute that claim if they think it falls under fair use. The copyright claim then goes back to the person who made the claim. YouTube does not look over any of the claims personally. If the person continues to think they are using copyrighted material the YouTuber will get a copyright strike. If a channel gets three copy strikes, it gets taken down.

However, this system is flawed since there is no one to mediate the situation. YouTube doesn’t have a system in place to help prevent people taking advantage of the copyright system.

Fair use is also a complicated topic to understand. According to Stanford University Libraries, things that fall under fair use are commentaries, criticism, and parodies. You can use the work as long as it is deemed as transformative.

However, fair use is not cut and dry. Stanford University Libraries states, “There are no hard-and-fast rules, only general guidelines and varied court decisions, because the judges and lawmakers who created the fair use exception did not want to limit its definition.”

This can make it hard for the creator to figure out if their video falls under fair use. YouTube also has very little information on the fair use policy on their website. It doesn’t clearly state what does and does not fall under fair use. They need to establish a universal system so a YouTuber knows if their content falls under fair use or not.

It’s hard for YouTubers to have any power in this situation. By disputing the copyright claim, they risk having their channel completely deleted. It’s possible to take the situation to court, but it can be expensive. The channel could also be going against a larger company that has more money to spend on lawyers.

YouTube has little to do with these copyright claims. They don’t try to be the referee for these situations. This allows people to take advantage of the system and use it as a way to make money with no repercussions. YouTube needs to be more accessible to help out with these situations instead of ignoring the situation. It’s likely they don’t want to get involved in legal matters, but ignoring the problem only is going to make it worse.

Companies will claim videos that use a second of their material in a 15 minute long video. These videos can take weeks to make and the YouTuber will see none of the revenue for their hard work. For many of the more popular YouTubers, YouTube is their full-time job. It’s how they make a living. When they’re not making any money it’s hard for them continue making content.

Other YouTubers have been abusing the copyright system by copyright-striking videos that talk negatively about them. Criticism falls under fair use, but the videos are still taken down.

People clearly feel that YouTube has lost sight of its audience. Their recent video “YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind” got over 15 million dislikes. This makes it the most disliked video currently on YouTube beating second most disliked video, Justin Bieber’s “Baby” music video, by five million.

YouTube needs to rework their copyright system to make it more balanced. Without this balance YouTube will continue to face hate and controversy.