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News / Song Sleuth / 16 Sep 2021

What Youtube’s copyright match tool means for rights holders

5 minute read

At Song Sleuth, we like for our clients to be well informed about events and developments within the area of online music rights.

One of the leading platforms that can bring you revenue as a client of Song Sleuth is YouTube. YouTube hosts a massive number of content creators, and it’s very common for them to put music in videos. If this music has been copyrighted, it can bring rights holders revenue every time it is played. This revenue stream can be surprisingly profitable. Last year, YouTube paid over $4 billion to the music industry.

But YouTube has over 50 million content creators, and just one video can be played millions of times. Inevitably, copyright infringement is a common occurrence on the platform.

Content ID — YouTube’s Answer to Copyright Infringement

YouTube has its own tool to combat copyright infringement on its platform – Content ID. When content is uploaded to YouTube, Content ID scans that content to see if it infringes on any copyrights. This is done by comparing the content against a pre-existing database of “fingerprinted” content – meaning content that has been marked as having a copyright claim associated with it. In the past two years especially, Content ID has gone through some major changes to satisfy the demands of rights holders.

Content ID is far from perfect, however. The popular opinion is that access to the service is the biggest shortcoming. Many creators do not have access to Content ID. It is, as a general rule, reserved for large rights holders such as music labels. Another problem is that the laws can be quite complex. This has led some creators to simply not add music to their videos. Copyright laws are difficult to navigate in the world of music licensing, so this is understandable, but it certainly limits the potential for a very profitable revenue stream for owners of music rights.

A Moral Dilemma‍

We believe that the goal of any music rights holder isn’t to stop music from being shared. Everyone wants music to be shared! It’s just that in order for more music to be created, it’s important that it is profitable for musicians and those who help them.

This seems to be the general sentiment, because often when videos are flagged by Content  ID, rather than take them down, rights holders see the opportunity to create a new revenue stream. Remember at the beginning, we mentioned how YouTube paid the music industry over $4 billion last year? To put that into perspective, Spotify, a platform designed only for music, paid 5 billion dollars in the US in the last 12 months.

Content ID’s current state

Content  ID has come a long way in the past two years alone. This being said, there are still some flaws. Primarily, access to the tool seems to be holding it back as well as a lack of clarity on what music is permissible and what isn’t.

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