Youtube's Content ID has become the tool of choice for grifty copyfraudsters who steal from artists

Last year's EU Copyright Directive will require online services to install upload filters similar to Youtube's Content ID system, a $100m, voluntary tool that allows rightsholders to claim video and audio and either censor or earn money from any user videos that matches their claims.

At the time, opponents of this "filternet" proposal pointed out that Youtube's Content ID had some glaring issues that made it unsuitable as a model for expansion into all services and all types of media (written words, code, images, videos, sound). First among these was that the system has virtually no protections against "copyfraud," in which people claim the rights to others' creations, either through carelessness, or because by so doing, they can misappropriate others' income, censor their critics, or blackmail them by threatening to "copystrike" their work (if a Youtuber receives three copyright complaints, they can lose their channels and all their videos, forever, with no appeal).

In the months since the Directive passed in the EU (it squeaked through by a mere five votes, and then, immediately after, ten MEPs said they'd gotten confused and pushed the wrong button), Content ID has become even more toxic and hospitable to copyfraudsters.

For example, a company called Studio 71 has bulk-submitted claims to Content ID that allowed it steal the revenues from whole genres of Youtubers, and has thus far paid no penalty.

As bad as the situation is with Youtube and Content ID, it will be far, far worse under the Copyright Directive.

The Directive establishes penalties for platforms that permit copyrighted work to be uploaded by users after that work has been claimed by a rightsholder, and makes no exceptions for claims by rightsholders who have made many false claims in the past.

So if a troll uploads 10,000,000 works they don't own to, say, WordPress, someone at WordPress will have to remove all 10,000,000 of those database entries by hand, and then the troll could reupload them the same day.

But WordPress can't just say, "OK, troll, this bullshit stops now, you are no longer allowed to use our automated takedown system — the next time you have a copyright claim, you can go to court and get a court order after showing evidence."

If they do this, and a single work that the troll does own goes live on any WordPress-hosted site, WordPress is now liable to stiff penalties under the directive.

In other words, the Directive sets up a system that automatically and permanently polices the speech of people who are accused of copyright infringement, but actually prohibits any policing of those who abuse this system to steal from artists or commit acts of censorship on a continent-wide scale.

As We Get Closer And Closer To The EU Requiring ContentID Everywhere, More Abuses Of ContentID Exposed [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]

Valerie Lawson
, CC BY-SA, modified