YouTube's New Content ID Appeals Process: Not as Useful as You Might Think

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Last month YouTube announced a new process for appealing reinstated Content ID claims that was supposed to solve the problem of copyright owners being made the ultimate judge of disputes against their own copyright claims. Sadly, the new appeals process has turned out to be far less useful than one would have hoped, thanks to the seemingly arbitrary way in which the appeal option is available on some videos and not others, and the requirement to "verify" your YouTube account with a text message sent to a cell phone before you can file an appeal.

As I noted in my initial post about the new appeals process, the YouTube help page on the appeals process includes the following caveat:

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.

While I was cautiously optimistic about the new process at the time, I expressed concern that this could dramatically reduce the usefulness of the appeal's process by restricting users' ability to appeal old claims that were disputed and reinstated. It now appears that is exactly what has happened. Techdirt now has the story of YouTube user (and fellow copyright reform activist) Julian Sanchez, who two years ago uploaded a video about fair use and remix culture, highlighting various examples of remix in user-generated videos on YouTube. One of the examples he used was a series of viral remixes to the song "Lisztomania" by the band Phoenix, using footage of people dancing to clips from the movie "The Breakfast Club." This was a meme going around a few years ago where people took this song and created videos themselves dancing to it in a variety of locations around the country--all of which are now apparently blocked by Content ID. I remember Lawrence Lessig used this as an example of remix in his talks for a while (I wonder if any of his videos have been taken down too?).

So it turns out that Sanchez recently discovered that his video--a prime example of fair use if I ever saw one--was blocked by a Content ID claim from the music publisher, Kobalt Music Publishing (though the Content ID screen attributes this to Glassnote and Sony Music). Since Sanchez was obviously well-versed in fair use (that's what the video was about after all), he disputed the Content ID claim. As usual, the music publisher completely ignored his claim of fair use and reinstated their copyright claim, re-blocking his video in both the United States and Germany.

What's interesting is that even though this all occurred on November 7, about a month after the new appeals process was implemented, there is no option to appeal the reinstated Content ID claim as YouTube says there should be. Instead, Sanchez's Content ID screen looks like this:

I know the appeals process has in fact been implemented because some users have started seeing the option to appeal available on some, but not all, of their videos. When a claim is reinstated and the option to appeal exists, the Content ID match screen should look like this (courtesy of the user "markimatang" in this YouTube help thread):


So it appears that even though the Content ID block and the resulting dispute and reinstated claim happened after the appeals process was established, because the video was originally posted two years ago, Sanchez is out of luck. The option to appeal the baseless reinstated Content ID claim on his video is simply not there.

By restricting the appeals process to recent videos (this YouTube help thread indicates users are seeing the appeal option on videos posted no earlier than this past summer), YouTube has essentially granted copyright fraudsters a carte blanch to make and reinstate blatantly false Content ID claims on older videos, where the user still has absolutely no recourse to fight false claims. While the new appeals process seemed at first to be a good solution to the problem of false copyright claimants rejecting disputes against their own claims, the arbitrary manner in which YouTube has decided to make it available for new videos but not old ones has severely reduced its usefulness in combating copyright fraud on YouTube.

Additionally, I have been seeing numerous complaints about the fact that even when the appeal option is available, users are first required to "verify" their YouTube accounts using a verification code sent via text message to a cell phone, before they can proceed with their appeal. This makes the appeal option essentially unavailable to users who do not have text-message capable cell phones or who live in countries that do not have a supported cell phone provider on YouTube's approved list. Some users have been able to work around this problem by going out and actually buying prepaid cell phones just to verify their YouTube accounts, being forced to incur a pointless expense just so they appeal false copyright claims against their videos.

When I called on YouTube to reform its woefully flawed Content ID dispute process, this was not what I had in mind. It would have been easy for YouTube to simply allow all users with reinstated disputed Content ID claims on their videos to use the appeals process, without jumping through pointless hoops like cell phone verification. Instead, YouTube chose to make it as hard as they possibly could to appeal falsely reinstated Content ID claims. The only conclusion I can come to is that far from having a true change of heart about the abuses enabled by its Content ID system, in enacting the new appeals process YouTube was merely trying to save face and appear to be doing something about the problem, while not really doing much of anything. In reality YouTube continues to subject its users to the capricious whims of unscrupulous copyright claimants who continue to ignore fair use and claim content they have no rights to--at least where older videos are concerned. The only way I can see currently for users to free their older videos from false copyright claims is to delete the original videos from their accounts, forfeiting all the views they have accrued over the years, and to post them anew so they will now be allowed to take advantage of the appeals process when new Content ID claims are made and invevitably reinstated.

This is not a solution. It is barely even a bandaid. If YouTube is truly sincere about protecting its users against fraudulent copyright claims on their videos, it should act immediately to make the appeals process available on ALL videos with reinstated Content ID claims, without requiring users to go through the cumbersome process of verifying their account with a cell phone. It is only fair that it should be as easy to appeal a false copyright claim as it is to make one, and that is most certainly not the case on YouTube at present.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 18:56



0 #1 Ryu 2012-11-08 21:05
I did sent appeal for 2 videos of mine on my other channel,I thought it was suspicious, that SME reinstated the claim on the same day before the time was up for them review it on 2 different days.Which makes think they didn't even bother consider fair use. Just like with my 2 terminated accounts,UMG just send out of DMCA without considering fair use on my videos. As for counter notices on those accounts they still haven't forwarded them yet even though it's been a month since I send a complete one by making my own counter notice,I send some made by ChillingEffects counter notice generator with my scanned signature,I wonder if it's gonna work at all.
0 #2 Nathan 2013-01-31 22:42
I have a content ID claim about a video for music in a area of the video with no music or anything like music. The appeal got rejected in days and I am now appealing the reinstatement of the claim. The problem is that no option for the appeal had anything about a false claim. I have to essentially admit that I have used the material in question in order to even dispute it.
0 #3 Patrick McKay 2013-02-01 02:00
Yeah that's another problem with the dispute process. There is no option that the claim is simply wrong. You just have to pick the closest one I guess, like the one saying the material is not eligible for copyright, or maybe the one saying you have permission to use it since if it's all your own original material, you obviously do.
0 #4 zambamchick 2013-03-14 12:50
my account says Content ID Appeals- Your account is not eligible at this time. When ever i try to go in my inbox or channel or anything the page loads for 1 second then goes to and i cant do anything..
0 #5 Patrick McKay 2013-03-14 15:09
Do you have any existing copyright strikes? That makes you ineligible to appeal rejected content Id disputes until you clear the strikes. You'll have to send counter-notices for any videos you have a strike on first.
0 #6 Zenophon Abraham 2013-08-11 13:08
I have been a YT Partner since 2008. YouTube seems to hire new employees who do not understand fair use legal rights, or how to look for examples where they were properly followed. YouTube then asks me, currently when there is a blue moon, to show that I have documentation to use an image. I point to my fair use rights, and how that image has a voice over, and of late, my point is ignored. This happened with one out of 45 videos, so it's not harmful, but I am fighting to prevent precedent, and maintain my rights intact. YouTube is not a perfect organization in that high-turnover causes misinterpretati on of rights, but those who have been there for some time do work to protect us. Also, there are YouTube staffers who will tell you they have NEVER made a video - that should not be, because they then lack the understanding of how the product works. My video:
0 #7 Steve Todd 2013-09-14 02:16
I've been uploading some videos of a school talent show. Every video that has gone up has had a matched content claim but each one has used only tiny fractions of the songs involved and all with other sounds on top making them useless as substitutes for the original. From what I can gather, this is a pretty sound fair use claim.

So, I appealed each of the claims writing long explanations of why they constitute fair use, and each claim was reinstated wihtin hours. Yes, hours. Obviously an automated system meaning my long explanations and citations were pointless.

So, I'll appeal right? Wrong.

Apparently, only "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."

My appeals button is disabled meaning I have no course of appeal.

So, presumably my account is not in good standing. Well, according to my channel settings it is.

Youtube is doing everything it can to look like it is protecting its users when really, it is protecting the yachts and mansions of its owners.

Google is evil. And getting worse by the day.
0 #8 Gary aka markimatang 2013-10-09 19:54
Here we are almost a year later. Recent developments have made this not even a band-aid. We’ve heard about Counter Notices to formal DMCA Notices being denied due to contractual agreements with certain entities. Now it comes to the appeals process. Sony Music Entertainment has long had a practice of summarily rejecting all disputes. (
Recently they have not answered appeals simply letting them time out while encumbering the uploaders’ account for another 30 days. Now apparently appeals are not allowed for disputes that SEM has summarily (without review) dismissed. To see an updated screen shot of the screen shot posted above (Same video one year later) scroll down to the Oct. 9, 2013 post on this thread!topic/youtube/tFsevfJn3IQ

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