Is the YouTube Content ID Lawsuit Fading? Maria Schneider makes another attempt to obtain class action status as the trial date draws near

Photo credits: Gerd Altmann

The YouTube lawsuit that initially kept YouTubers in suspense is now losing its luster. Plaintiff Maria Schneider, a Grammy-winning jazz musician, now faces the prospect of trying a case that will do little to shake Content ID.

With days to go before the June 12 hearing, Schneider is making another desperate attempt to get the case class-action status. Schneider’s legal team has appealed to the Ninth Circuit to stay the case pending an appeal of Judge Donato’s May verdict.

Maria Schneider’s Content ID lawsuit burst into the limelight last year and appeared to be the savior that could redefine the copyright infringement landscape. But to the despair of many, the case turned out to be quite disappointing. YouTube appears to be emerging unscathed, and creators’ dream of universal access to Content ID may remain just that — a dream.

When Schneider’s team first applied for class action status, they said it would have between 10,000 and 20,000 plaintiffs. But Judge Ronald Donato ruled that “copyright claims are not suitable candidates for a class action.”

Schneider’s legal team believes that judgment was “erroneous” and should be overturned. They are now asking the Ninth Circuit to stay the upcoming court case pending a decision on certification of the class action lawsuit.

Unless the district court overturns the class certification denial, the claims will require separate trials, resulting in significant costs associated with double hearings. If the lawsuit proceeds as planned on June 12, Schneider’s attorneys believe the plaintiffs will be forced to assert individual claims.

Schneider and other plaintiffs argue that YouTube does not adequately assist independent creators in preventing unauthorized distribution of their content on the platform.

The lawsuit alleges that while YouTube’s Content ID is a sophisticated rights management system, it is only accessible to major copyright owners. In the meantime, independent creators must manually monitor and manage unlicensed use of their content. The plaintiffs allege that the manual system provided by YouTube is flawed, suggesting that the Google-owned company is failing in its copyright obligations to prevent works on its platform from infringing.

Barring Schneider’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit, the lawsuit’s original objective of forcing YouTube to offer universal access to the Content ID management system appears highly unlikely.