Victory! YouTube Reforms Content ID Dispute Process

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In a blog post yesterday, YouTube announced a new appeals process for Content ID disputes, which should put an end to copyright claimants acting as judges of their own claims and once again give users whose videos are blocked or monetized by false Content ID matches recourse to the counter-notice process under the DMCA. The new appeals process is described in greater detail here. As I said in a quote on Ars Technica, at this point I am cautiously optimistic about this new appeals process. If implemented correctly, it will be a huge step forward toward protecting the rights of online video creators against overzealous copyright claims.

Just over one year ago, I began a campaign on this site calling for much needed reforms to YouTube's process for disputing copyright claims made by its automated Content ID copyright filtering system. Even though it was possible to dispute copyright claims on your videos, the dispute went right back to the party claiming copyright over your video, who then had the choice to either release their claim or simply reinstate it, in which case the uploader had no further recourse. This of course led to entirely predictable massive abuse by unscrupulous parties falsely claiming copyright (and profiting from the ad revenue) on everything from birdsongs to the NASA Mars rover and President Obama's attempts at karaoke.

Over the past year I have highlighted these kinds of abuses on my website and have been quoted in several media articles on the subject by outlets such as Wired and TorrentFreak. As media awareness of the issue grew, the pressure has steadily increased for YouTube to do something to reform its woefully one-sided copyright dispute process. Now it appears that YouTube has at last bowed to that pressure and enacted at least one major reform that I and other critics have been calling for.

However, it should be noted that YouTube's "improved" appeals process really does little more than restore the Content ID dispute process to the way it used to work when the Content ID system was first created, and the way YouTube claimed as late as April of 2010 that it still worked. That is, when a user disputes a Content ID claim, the copyright claimant must then file a formal DMCA takedown notice (with its attendant legal penalties for misuse) if they insist on taking the video down. However, sometime after YouTube made that blog post, things changed, and YouTube now finally acknowledges that, "Prior to today, if a content owner rejected that dispute, the user was left with no recourse for certain types of Content ID claims (e.g., monetize claims)."

While I do not know exactly when things changed, I first experienced this myself in August of 2011 and received emails from others who experienced it quite a few months before that, possibly as early as mid-2010. So while I am glad YouTube is now admitting the problem and taking steps to correct it, it is still disappointing that it took them possibly several years (depending on exactly how long this has been going on) to realize it might be a problem to let copyright claimants judge disputes against their own claims.

Moreover, it remains to be seen exactly how accessible this new appeals process really is to the average YouTube user whose videos are flagged for copyright infringement. While the original dispute process (pre-2010) used to go Content ID claim > dispute > DMCA process, it appears this new system goes more like Content ID claim > dispute > reinstated claim > appeal > DMCA process. While this is an improvement over the current Content ID claim > dispute > reinstated claim > no recourse, it still adds yet another layer of complexity to what is already the most convoluted copyright dispute process of any major user-generated content site on the net.

In my own experience, the average user is already bewildered by the current system. Adding an extra layer to the dispute process will only confuse people more.  Why not simply have it the way the dispute process originally worked, where any time a user disputed a Content ID claim the claimant had to make the choice right then between dropping the claim entirely or filing a DMCA notice? Since the copyright claimant will ultimately have to make that choice anyway, why wait until after the copyright claimant has reinstated their claim as before, and then the user has been forced to file another dispute in the new appeals process before finally invoking the DMCA process?

It also remains to be seen exactly what videos will be eligible for the new appeals process. The YouTube help page states:

Uploaders in good copyright standing may be able to appeal up to three disputed Content ID matches that were reviewed and rejected at a time.

Additional eligibility restrictions may apply, including the date of dispute and other factors. Uploaders will also be asked to verify their account if they have not already done so. The eligibility for the appeals process may change over time.

It will be interesting to see exactly what kind of "eligibility restrictions" YouTube imposes on this. It is quite possible that if you have an old Content ID claim on your video that you disputed and it was reinstated, you still might not be able to take advantage of the new appeals process. The reference to users "in good copyright standing" likely means you will be unable to appeal reinstated copyright claims if you have any outstanding DMCA strikes on your account, just as you are unable to upload videos with creative commons licenses, post unlisted videos, or upload videos longer than 15 minutes. I'm also not sure what this "three at a time" language means. Does this mean you can only appeal three reinstated Content ID claims ever, in a year, in a week, in a day, what?

As far as I can tell, the new appeals process hasn't actually been implemented yet, and it will probably be gradually rolled out over the next few weeks. When it does, I will certainly try it out myself and write a tutorial on it for my existing Guide to YouTube Removals. In the meantime, I'd say online video creators have potentially won an important victory in the fight to protect our rights against overbearing copyright claims by automated filters, and I look forward to seeing how this plays out in the coming weeks.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 October 2012 13:52



+1 #1 Patricia 2012-10-06 17:40
Re your statement " It is quite possible that if you have an old Content ID claim on your video that you disputed and it was reinstated, you still might not be able to take advantage of the new appeals process."...

I have 2 outstanding "dispute rejections", one from April 2012 and the other August 2012. The August one had an APPEAL link on it, but not the April one, though I notice that the latter video no longer has "This video contains material owned by JoeBloggsInc" on its "playing page".

Thank you for your work on our behalf as well as your own :-)
0 #2 spsyed 2012-10-10 05:58
Google Youtube to face defamation libel lawsuit in London High Court: A GYT user has launched libel action against Google Youtube (GYT) in the Royal Court of Justice (High Court London).
Pre-action notice was served on GYT 11 Aug 2012, followed by news release link announced 15 Aug 2012, and .
GYT restored channel Thu 04 Oct 2012 one month after it was "terminated" by Google-Youtube. It proves again that GYT and Indian film distributors, like Shemaroo, had no evidence of repeatedly alleged copyright infringements, no court trials, no court verdicts against the channel. That in turn proves GYT’s serious allegations were completely false, baseless and defamatory. A fair court should award precedent-setting, exemplary and aggravated damages (in this case number “HQ12D04099”) regardless of religion, colour, age or race etc for GYT’s repeatedly baseless defamation in public. As a primary publisher of defamation, GYT has no diplomatic immunity in the UK. GYT is not above the law. As a US $250 billion company, GYT cannot plead poverty in the UK where they have assets that can be frozen to pay damages that should run into tens of millions of British sterling pounds. More and other analysis, and updates on, and .
+1 #3 Larry Brown 2012-10-16 22:28
Hello- I don't understand how to send the counter notification form? I have a video that had "copyright claim reinstated" and I want to appeal, but I don't see a link in your article that gives me a form to fill out and send to youtube. Can you help me please?
+1 #4 JEL 2012-10-22 05:58
NOT a victory. Well, not really anyway.

You can't appeal a reinstated claim UNLESS you give up your phone-number to google (which you won't do unless you love getting spammed by ad-callers 24 hours a day, since google does not state anywhere that they won't sell your number to advertising-people)

So there's still no real civil way to battle the crooks who try to steal ownership of YOUR material.
+1 #5 JEL 2012-10-22 08:11
Follow-up to previous post: And even if you don't mind giving google your phone-number, you can't even do that if you have a carrier google does not support. It's just not useful.
+1 #6 JEL 2012-10-22 08:14
Quoting Larry Brown:
Hello- I don't understand how to send the counter notification form? I have a video that had "copyright claim reinstated" and I want to appeal, but I don't see a link in your article that gives me a form to fill out and send to youtube. Can you help me please?

You can see a picture of that here. The link is located at the bottom-left:
+1 #7 spsyed 2012-10-22 08:41
Appeal against "reinstated claim" sounds reasonable but the google-owned youtube (GYT) process won't recognise even someone who has filed many DMCA counter-notifications with all direct contact details, including the telephone number; and who is suing them for defamation libel in London High Court case # HQ12D04099, and .
0 #8 JEL 2012-10-22 10:50
Quoting spsyed:
Appeal against "reinstated claim" sounds reasonable

If your phone (provided you have one, which not everybody has) is not on a google-supported carrier you can't verify your youtube-account in order to appeal the copyright-theft.

So you are still pretty much in risk of being left without a way to fend off copyright-thieves.

And even if you have a supported phone and don't mind giving google (a private company working for profit, not a public office working for citizen's rights) your phone-number, then the copyright-thief can still file a DMCA against you. If the thief isn't located in the US, how easy will it be for them to just ignore the whole DMCA thing? (the DMCA is US law only, so a non-US based company may not even be affected by it)
+1 #9 Patrick McKay 2012-10-22 11:51
@JEL - Since YouTube is an American company, they will still follow the DMCA. If the copyright claimant follows up with an actual DMCA notice, you can send a counter-notice and get your video restored after 10 days. It's far from perfect, but it's better than what they had before. As for verifying with your phone number, you all are right that is a problem, and one I will probably right about later. I have yet to see the appeal option on any of my old disputed videos, so I will probably need to dispute a new video and wait for the claim to be reinstated to try the appeal process myself. When I do I will hopefully be able to clarify exactly how the process works.
0 #10 JEL 2012-10-23 02:29
Thanks for your effort on this general issue, putting up this site and everything, it's very much appreciated :)

I have the appeal-option available on a wrong claim a company from Holland made and reinstated. I was emailed about this from youtube just yesterday.

You can see a screen-grab of my control-panel here:'_Records_copyri ght_dispute/

I tried clicking the appeal link, and was then asked to verify my youtube account by giving them my phone-number.

I don't want to give youtube my phone-number, but even if I wanted to I couldn't as my carrier is not listed on youtube's list of supported carriers for my country (Denmark)

I didn't try to enter my number, so I don't know what the youtube system would do in such a situation.

So now it may seem like I don't want to appeal the copyright-theft, since I'm not going forward with the supposed 'option', when in fact I DO want to but DON'T really have the option.

I want to appeal, but youtube (indirectly) won't let me.

Once again the copyright-thieves win. They can just sit there in Holland and laugh while claiming ownership over my video.
It certainly is frustrating to witness a system that benefits the criminals and not the victims.
0 #11 JEL 2012-10-23 03:10
Quoting Patrick McKay:
If the copyright claimant follows up with an actual DMCA notice, you can send a counter-notice and get your video restored after 10 days.

My previous post was also for you, but I just came to think of an extra question relating to what you say in the quote here.

If they file a DMCA and your video is taken down and you get a strike, will that strike be removed when you file a counter-DMCA? Or will the strike remain? If the strike remains, a hostile company can potentially remove a user effectively just by filing 3 DMCAs against you. They don't actually have to follow up on your counter-DMCA by taking you to court.
0 #12 Patrick McKay 2012-10-23 08:06
Very interesting. Thanks for the screenshot and your description since I haven't yet actually seen what the appeal process looks like. I completely agree it's a problem for Google to basically be holding your video hostage in order to receive personal information like a phone number, and the fact that it doesn't work for most non-US cell phone providers makes the appeals process useless for many users. I will have to do a post about that and add that info into my tutorial when I get a chance.

As for DMCA counter-notices, I assume that process will work just like it does now if you have a video taken down by a DMCA notice outside of the Content ID system. If you send a counter notice and the copyright claimant does not notify YouTube that they have filed a lawsuit against you within 10 days, the video will be restored and any strikes removed.
0 #13 spsyed 2012-10-23 08:34
Quoting Patrick McKay:
... I haven't yet actually seen what the appeal process looks like... it doesn't work for most non-US cell phone providers makes the appeals process useless for many users...

Appeal against "reinstated claim" does not work with any or even with one of the largest global cell/mobile telephone networks, such as Vodafone. It is a farcical process that is worse than "DMCA Counter-Notification". Google-Youtube and even legitimate copyright owners bypass due judicial process, violating the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the US.

That is completely unfair particularly when Google-Youtube continue to abuse "creative corporate tax" practices to question the London High Court jurisdiction to evade their liability for defamation libel action.

These are some legal issues that are also part of the defamation case HQ12D04099 linked here , .
0 #14 Larry Brown 2012-10-26 20:03
Hello- thank you so much for your replies. I have further information. I can confirm Mr. McKay's idea that the new dispute process is not retroactive. Only when I uploaded a test video to youtube, that UMG disputed, then confirmed after I disputed it, did the link to the second dispute appear. Now if I have this straight, if UMG reinstates after the second dispute, I can then file a counter DMCA notice? How do I do this, exactly?

I am 100 percent sure their claim is false, because the name of the actual performer is encoded into the video file- it will appear when played on Windows Media Player. In addition, the Creative Commons License stamp is on the web page I downloaded the file from.

So the UMG claim, and then reinstatement of claim, is false. But does this mean that I am sure to avoid a copyright strike if I follow through on the dispute process to the end?

Apologies for length of post.
+2 #15 Patrick McKay 2012-10-27 12:05
@ Larry - If you do the appeal, and the copyright claimant then files a DMCA notice, the counter-notice process works just like a regular DMCA counter-notice which I have instructions for in my tutorial section. One thing I need to update though is that direct link I have to the counter-notice webform no longer works, and you now need to get there from the copyright notices section of your account. But basically you fill that out (including a brief but specific explanation of why your video is not infringing) and submit it and YouTube will restore your video after about 2 weeks, this time permanently (unless the copyright claimant files a lawsuit against you, which is unlikely to happen). If a DMCA notice is issued against you, you will get a copyright strike, but that will go away once your counter-notice goes through. Hope that answers your questions.
0 #16 smittysmit 2012-10-29 16:43
Patrick mckay,

can you help me please. I really appreciate this article. Im having a problem.
I got a copyright notice on a video i uploaded recently. I followed your steps to dispute it. That worked until they reinstated the dispute.
here is the link to the video.

can you tell me if i am infringing the copyright act or is this fair use?

any help would be greatly appreciated as i speant several hours to create this video for others to share
0 #17 Paul 2012-11-01 02:04
Dear Patrick,
My account was terminated due to alleged deception/scam. I wrote my open letter but, to this moment, I was unable to change the situation. Do you have any suggestions? This is not a copyright claim!
+1 #18 Patrick McKay 2012-11-01 07:59
@Paul - There is an appeal process for account terminations due to Community Guidelines violations which you can access through this page:
0 #19 Ryu 2012-11-01 23:36
Quoting Patrick McKay:
@Paul - There is an appeal process for account terminations due to Community Guidelines violations which you can access through this page:

I wish I able to do that with my first account 2 years ago,but about the time you can appeal the CG strikes my account was already terminated.
+1 #20 Gen @ CinemaVintage 2012-12-31 07:39
You know I think you're wonderful. I fight these false claims on YT by the truckload weekly and the traffic;s only increasing. Please keep drawing attention to it. I can;t help but think if the public knew what these "companies" were doing to our resources they would never stand for it. If you need anything, give a shout. - Gen :)
+3 #21 Philip Tagg 2013-04-13 06:24
I'm a retired professor of musicology. I've taught/researched music in the modern media since 1971. I've had recurrent problems with GYT since 2007. Since the advent of GYT's mechanised copyright ID system I've wasted even more time battling takedown and excommunication threats that fly in the face of the US federal code of fair and/or transformative use (§107, p. 19; §118, p. 74:; plus Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 US 569, 1994). I could've written another book or run another couple of courses for all the time and frustration my GYT's lazy intransigence and my own stubbornness has caused! Despite my professional credentials and despite the expert legal advice I have received, there's almost nothing I can do to get GYT to respect the law of their land (the USA) because of the contract, subject to GYT's unilateral alteration of course, I entered into with GYT when I first signed up as a YouTube user.

As an altruistic educator, the only way long-term way out of these endless anti-democratic time-wasters is, I think, to boycott YT (fewer users = less advertising revenue for GYT) and to stream my 'edutainment' videos elsewhere. For the time being they're on my own site but I'm advocating that IASPM (International Association for the Study of Popular Music) establish its own server for storage of educational and research materials relevant to our subject.
For more about this, please see www/
+3 #22 Karen 2013-06-02 03:19
Yesterday I uploaded a song I performed (vocally) with my own piano accompanist at my Senior College Recital, it was a Mozart piece entitled "Laudate Dominum," written in 1779. It immediately came back with "matched third party content" from UMPG Publishing (Universal). I disputed, and it IMMEDIATELY came back "copyright claim reinstated." It is obvious even the disputed claim response is *automated*! I went to the Universal website and clicked on their licensing link, and they don't even have "Laudate Dominum" in their database (naturally, it's a classical piece, the composer has been dead over 200 years and in the public domain!) even if I *wanted* to pay a sync license! Two other songs I posted have been flagged with content ID, that is Amazing Grace (AS IF!!! also in public domain, from Rumblefish) and "Summertime" by George Gershwin from Warner. Gershwin died in 1937, so it is now also public domain. This situation is unbelievable!!! ! I think they are hoping to snag a bunch of money from ignorant people who don't know the law and don't know their rights! Or maybe they think they are above the law?
+2 #23 DeltaSerpentis 2013-08-02 07:51
Karen, I think it's both. They do believe they're above the law, and at the same time they purposefully exploit the GYT system in order to get as much money as they can. I wonder, laying false claim on Public Domain cultural works isn't EXACTLY the same as claiming that you own, let's say, the Colosseum or the Pyramids? An offense like that is infinitely more serious than a copyrighted song accidentally playing on the radio while you take a video of your kid chasing the cat. But the way the latter case is being treated as an outright crime while everyone seems to be getting away with things pretty much similar to the former, just shows what the world's cultural heritage really means to those in (any kind of) power. That is, it means nada, zilch. Or just one more resource to abuse in order to make even more money.
+3 #24 Jessica Evans 2014-01-24 17:20
What I am hearing about is independent content providers creating unique content on their own monetized channels who are becoming victims of fraudulent claims. Fraudsters effectively divert the money stream to themselves during the early high-view period after the video is uploaded. By the time the dispute is resolved in the original content provider's favor, the revenue stream is much less. The ad-stream money from early watches when the content was under dispute, that went to the false claimant, is never returned to the original content provider. Why is YouTube not returning that money to the original content provider? It seems like a clear case of theft of advertising revenue. I know that YouTube gets their cut either way, but it seems shocking to me that YouTube doesn't return that money once the dispute is resolved in the original content provider's favor.

So long as there continues to be a reward (diverted revenue) and no punishment for repeatedly filing false claims, more and more companies, legit and fraudulent alike, will do so. Legit companies do it out of laziness and greed, and fraudulent companies out of criminality and greed.

Rumblefish created a big mess where they falsely claimed a huge catalog of videos by accident. They asked content providers to get in touch with them so they could refund the money. Why isn't YouTube doing the refunding automatically when a claim is revoked or found to be false?!

Due to excessive spam, comments have been disabled for the time being. I hope to upgrade the site soon with a new comment system that can filter out spam.