Google Ups Investment in YouTube’s Anti-Piracy Content ID

Google has updated how it is combatting piracy across its suite of digital products. In its report “How Google Fights Piracy,” the company revealed that it has spent more than $100 million on YouTube’s Content ID since its inception, representing a big bump up from $60 million two years ago. That number includes computing resources and staffing. The report further details that it has paid out more than $3 billion to rightsholders, compared to “over $2 billion” in 2016 and $1 billion in 2014.

According to VentureBeat, YouTube began offering Content ID (which was called Video Identification initially) in 2007. The technology “automatically identifies copyrighted content on the video-streaming service and asks the rightsholders” whether they want to monetize the video by showing ads or block it.

Earlier in 2018, YouTube stated that, “it would begin using Content ID data to display full music credits and link to the official videos.” The downside to Content ID is that it can target “barely audible music playing in the background” and end up blocking a “short non-publicly listed video of your kid performing in a school show.”

The report also revealed that, “98 percent of copyright claims in 2017 were made through Content ID, and more than 90 percent of Content ID claims lead to some form of monetization.” Google also paid “more than $1.8 billion to the music industry in ad revenue from October 2017 to September 2018.”

Google issued its report in the wake of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) finding that, “despite the growing uptake of legal music-streaming platforms, 38 percent of listeners still consume music through illegal means,” largely through so-called stream-ripping, which records audio via software. Denmark is the first country to deem stream-ripping illegal, ruling that one such site, Convert2MP3, be blocked.

Google is limited to filing lawsuits to stop stream-ripping, something it has pursued in the past. But Content ID allows it to “exert some control over the content that is uploaded to its platform.”

“The Internet has enabled people worldwide to connect, create, and distribute new works of art like never before,” said Google’s head of copyright, Cedric Manara. “A key part of preserving this creative economy is ensuring creators and artists have a way to share and make money from their content — and preventing the flow of money to those who seek to pirate that content.”

Google’s report also revealed that, “rightsholders notified the company about 882 million URLs on Google Search last year, with Google removing 95 percent of those that were flagged.” In 2017, the company also blocked more than 10 million ads “suspected of copyright infringement or that linked to infringing sites.”