February 3, 2016
A growing number of YouTube creators are becoming frustrated with copyright violation claims. Some have even posted videos about their headaches in dealing with the claims and they are urging YouTube to fix the system. Currently, the popular online video platform relies on a model established by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in which user-generated flags can lead to the sudden takedown of a video. Some creators have even had the advertising or the uploading capabilities restricted on their channels.
The complaints from YouTube channels like Channel Awesome, Eli the Computer Guy, Alternate Hub History, and I Hate Everything aren’t the result of a change in copyright policy. Instead, these creators are frustrated because YouTube is a major source of income for them.
“What’s changed from my perspective is that this is the third year in a row I’ve earned over $100,000 from the platform and I’m getting tired of worrying about whether all my work is going to vanish,” said Eli Etherton, creator of the Eli the Computer Guy channel. “It’s 2016, not 2009.”
These creators, who produce the millions of hours of video that make YouTube the largest source of online video, expect more from their platform. Often, YouTube takes action on copyright violations suddenly, and creators start losing money on advertising very quickly, even if they used a copyrighted clip legally. Creators can submit an appeal, but that system is automated and righting the situation can be a very long and complicated process.
YouTubers must contend with at least three different policies when posting videos. The community, copyright, and AdSense policies all govern what can be posted on YouTube. According to The Verge, “Community and copyright violations are governed by a three-strike policy, but the decision to revoke monetization is often independent of that policy.”
Also, copyright violations rely on user-generated flags, so the enforcement is not consistent. There is also no punishment for users who falsely flag videos.
The system is so bad that some video creators, like Etherton, have considered leaving YouTube and online video entirely. However, YouTube says it takes feedback about the copyright policy enforcement seriously and representatives from YouTube have solved the individual problems described in the videos from popular YouTubers.