YouTube’s most recent copyright transparency report says it handled 1.5 billion Content ID claims last year. This amount represents 98 percent of all copyright claims YouTube has received. Most of these complaints are taken automatically, but a small number of blunders create millions of conflicts.
YouTube regularly removes, disables, or stops making money from videos that are said to violate copyrights. This is done to protect the people who own the rights to the content.
For years, not much was known about the scope of these copyright claims, but that changed in December when the streaming platform published its first-ever transparency report.
YouTube Copyright Transparency
The report covered the first six months of 2021. YouTube just released the second edition, which gives us access to the full-year statistics. This backs up the earlier finding that the streaming platform handles a fantastic number of copyright claims.
Before we look at the numbers, it’s essential to know that YouTube has three main ways to report copyright violations. The simplest is a DMCA webform that anyone can use to report a violation. The second option is the Copyright Match tool, which is available to about two million channel operators whose content is often reposted.
The third option is the Content ID program, which may be the most well-known. It is the most advanced service and works with reference files uploaded by the rightsholders. A little more than 9,000 rightsholders are allowed to use this tool. Still, despite this limitation, 98 percent of all copyright claims on YouTube are handled through the system.
1,482,189,768 Content ID Claimed by YouTube
YouTube says that in the second half of 2021, it handled 759,540,199 Content ID claims, a slight increase from the previous months. This means that there were almost 1.5 billion claims in total last year.
Surprisingly, these claims come from a small group who own the rights. From July to December of last year, 4,840 people with copyrights used the Content ID system. During the same period, 272,815 rightsholders used the publicly available DMCA takedown webform.
The graph below shows that the vast majority, about 98 percent, of all copyright claims on YouTube come from a small group of Content ID users. The webform and the Copyright Match tool make up less than 1% of all takedowns.
Another interesting thing is that almost all Content ID claims are sent automatically (99 percent). In these situations, content that might be illegal is flagged using fingerprinting technology with little human oversight.
Automation saves a lot of time and money for both YouTube and rightsholders. But it can also be used in harmful ways and cause mistakes. This is one of the reasons why the program is only open to a small group of verified and responsible rightsholders.
“This is especially important because claiming can happen automatically, and while one copyright request removal made from the webform impacts only one (or a handful) of videos, just one invalid reference file in Content ID can impact thousands of videos and users, stripping them of monetization or blocking them altogether,” YouTube reports.
Even with precautions, abuse is possible. Many YouTube videos complain about inaccurate reporting. Worse, scammers have marked content they don’t own. Some flagged videos make money. One lawsuit brought in millions.
This way to make money is popular with more than just abusers. It has also been used to make money for legitimate rightsholders. Ninety percent of the videos that Content ID correctly flags stay online, giving the money to the video’s owner. In other words, claims of copyright have become a significant source of income.
The recipients do not contest the vast majority of Content ID claims. Only 0.5% of the time do they file a complaint. Even though this sounds like a minimal amount, it still adds up to 3.8 million disputed claims in six months.
YouTubers can challenge these claims, which they often do successfully since 62 percent of these cases end up in the uploader’s favor. If the two parties can’t agree, the claim will leave the Content ID system, and the rightsholder must send a regular takedown request.
The data that YouTube sends out gives a good idea of how big its copyright problems are. Now that we have the first statistics for an entire year, it will be interesting to see how things change over time.