Jim Sterling Brought a Bazooka to the Copyright War

After a week of seeing stories of YouTube’s “ContentID” system wreaking havoc on independent content producers in the name of protecting intellectual property, I finally felt ready to sit down and bang out a commentary on this new, “legitimate” form of IP trollery.

As it turns out, Jim Sterling, the reviews editor for video game website The Escapist Magazine, beat me to it with this episode of his long-running “Jimquisition” series (NSFW language).

For a little context, ContentID is a way for major players in the entertainment industry to automatically scour YouTube for any instance of copyright infringement – real or perceived. According to YouTube:

Copyright holders use Content ID to easily identify and manage their content on YouTube. Videos uploaded to YouTube are scanned against a database of files that have been submitted to us by content owners. When Content ID identifies a match between your video and a file in this database, it applies the policy chosen by the content owner. Content owners may choose the following policies:

Monetize: If ads that you did not enable appear on or before your video, the content owner has applied a Monetize policy.

Block: If the content owner has chosen a Block policy, your video will either not be viewable on YouTube, or its audio will be muted. The owner may choose to allow content within your video to play in some countries while blocking it in others. While you may not be able to see your video, or hear its audio, people in other regions may still be able to view and interact with it as usual. You will still be able to view, moderate, and respond to comments on the video from the Comments page in My Messages.

Track: If the content owner has chosen a Track policy, your video will be unaffected. However, its viewership statistics will appear in the content owner’s YouTube Analytics account.

In other words, if you record yourself playing a video game and providing voiceover color commentary, or reviewing a movie using edited clips from the trailer, or anything else involving content derived from other content, companies can either forcibly place ads on your video to make them money, steal your viewers or eliminate your video altogether. Good times, right?

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