YouTube’s latest Transparency Report shows that content ID copyright lawsuits have hit a new high – 826 million lawsuits in just six months.
The latest from YouTube transparency report shows that the number of Content ID system claims reached a new high in the second half of 2022. The advanced copyright tool has reported over 826 million issues, almost all automated. These claims generate approximately $1.5 billion in additional annual payouts to rightsholders through monetization options.
That’s the highest since YouTube reported those numbers, and a 9% increase from the same period last year, when 759 million videos were reported. This surge in claims came despite fewer copyright holders actively using the Content ID system, falling from 4,840 in 2021 to 4,646 in 2022.
While anyone can send a DMCA notice to YouTube, most copyright lawsuits come through the Content ID system, which can only be used by a select group of copyright owners. To protect copyright owners, YouTube regularly disables, removes, or features videos that contain allegedly infringing content based on these claims.
The number of rightsholder claims on YouTube was unknown for years, but that all changed two years ago when the platform released its first transparency report. Since then, the number of claims has steadily increased.
YouTube has managed to put its Content ID system in a different light to rightsholders, allowing them to monetize infringing content instead of simply taking it offline. The concept of monetizing piracy is unusual, but it has resulted in a good source of income. Rightsholders chose to monetize over 90% of all Content ID claims.
In 2022, copyright owners received around $1.5 billion based on their Content ID claims. Claimed revenue of $9 billion has been paid out to copyright holders since the system’s inception a few years ago.
Unfortunately, the receipts occasions with Content ID have resulted in scammers trying to steal a piece of the pie. In one case, two men formed a company to find and claim non-monetized music through a third-party partner with access to the Content ID system. The scam generated over $24 million in revenue from false claims of ownership on YouTube.
But the abuse did not go unnoticed. In 2020, the US Department of Justice filed charges against the two men, with the first defendant being sentenced to more than five years in prison last week.
“We take abuse of our tools seriously — we shut down tens of thousands of accounts trying to abuse our copyright tools every year,” the company says. “Sometimes this happens when political actors try to censor political speech, or when companies suppress criticism of their products or practices. In other cases, individuals attempt to use our copyright processes to harass other creators or remove videos they believe are competing for the same audience.”
Almost all Content ID claims (99.5%) are automatically processed through fingerprint technology, with potentially infringing content flagged by technology without human control. This process saves YouTube and rights holders a lot of resources. Nonetheless, it can also be a potential source of abuse and bugs, which is one of the reasons why only a limited group of verified rightsholders are eligible for the program.
YouTube reports that manual Content ID claims are more than twice as likely to be challenged as automated ones (0.94% vs. 0.43%). However, since there are 200 times more automated claims, they still make up the bulk of all disputes.