YouTube has always had a strained relationship with copyright holders. Through projects like Vevo, the video sharing site has worked to protect its ability to host user-generated content, while also protecting copyright. However it seems the site’s Content ID Flag system has gone haywire recently.
Thousands of users regularly record video game footage while they play, and provide commentary with it — known as a “Let’s play.” This practice has led some games, like Minecraft, to explode in popularity. And many who produce the “let’s play” videos generate income from their ad revenue.
YouTube had planned to implement changes to the way it checked for copyrighted content in January. This trial, accidental or otherwise, is revealing some very destructive flaws in the system. The result is the crippling of dozens of prominent users, making it nearly impossible for them to monetize their videos.
Music in games, including innocuous background music, sections of video game cut-scenes and video game trailers seem to be the main offenders, according to Force Strategy Gaming. Gaming channels often discuss new releases, and this move could stifle user engagement, as well as both the quality and quantity of what gets uploaded.
According to YouTube, the purpose of the sweep is so to pre-screen uploads from Multi-Channel Networks (MCNs), instead of giving them a direct path to publishing. Previously MCNs got a pass on screening because the networks would conceivably weed out copyright violations from their contributors before the videos were published.
This situation, ongoing since December 9th could potentially freeze up a huge amount of YouTube’s most popular content. Long format video keeps users on the site longer, which nets more ad impressions. With a long-form Let’s Play, a user could upload several 30-40 minute videos per week, and keep a lot of user’s attention for long periods of time.
f YouTube isn’t careful it could push away some of its most hardworking content creators and lose a lot of ad revenue as a result. Either YouTube needs to retool the content flagging system, or it could drive itself off a cliff in favor of less engaged, and more fleeting big business.
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