YouTube Processed a Billion Content ID Copyright Claims in Six Months

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YouTube's latest Transparency Report shows that fewer copyright holders used the Content ID system to protect their works. Despite the modest decline, the claim volume continues to grow. For the first time, the number of processed claims exceeded one billion in the six-month reporting period.

content-idYouTube is the most watched streaming platform in the world. The endless library of videos, uploaded by both amateurs and professionals, is simply unrivaled.

The site’s popularity translates into hard dollars, with YouTube and its creators generating billions in yearly revenue. However, there are downsides too, as some content is shared without permission.

To protect copyright holders, YouTube uses an advanced content recognition system called Content ID that flags potentially infringing videos. Videos can then be taken down, or monetized, depending on the preference of the claiming party.

Fewer Content ID Partners

The Content ID system works reasonably well, but access is limited to a select group of major copyright holders. According to YouTube’s latest transparency report, the group is shrinking.

In the last six months of 2023, 7,791 partners had access to Content ID, down from over 8,900 partners in the first half of the year. No reason for the reduction is mentioned but of all partners that had access, 4,511 actively used Content ID.

Companies and individuals that don’t have access to the automated system can use the webform to file DMCA notices manually. Alternatively, there are almost 3 million YouTube users who have access to the Copyright Match tool, a 25% increase compared to the previous reporting period.

Access and usage of copyright tools

youtube access and usage of copyright tools

The table above shows that users of the Copyright ID tool are in the minority, representing less than 2% of all complaining rightsholders. However, this relatively small group is responsible for more than 99% of all copyright claims on YouTube.

A Billion Copyright ID Claims

For the first time, YouTube has processed more than a billion Copyright ID claims in a six-month period. Between July 2023 and December 2023, a total of 1,016,137,305 potential infringements were flagged.

The vast majority of the flagged videos weren’t removed, but monetized instead. This is big business, which has generated more than $9 billion in revenue for rightsholders over the years.

The number of claims per six months has also steadily increased in recent years. When YouTube published its first transparency report in 2022, it reported 722 million Content ID claims, a figure that has increased by 40% since then.

Not all copyright claims come from Content ID, as shown below. However, the webform and Copyright Match claims pale in comparison, coming in at just a few million in total, which is less than 1% of all ‘actions’.

Copyright actions by tool

youtube copyright actions per tool

More Counter-Notices and Challenges

More claims logically result in more challenges. Percentage-wise, the Content ID challenges have also increased from 0.40% to 0.42%. That seemingly small percentage translated to more than 4 million disputes in the last half of 2023. In 2.7 million cases, the content was successfully disputed at the first attempt.

The other takedown tools have a higher dispute percentage. For classic webform DMCA takedowns, 7.5% was challenged through a counter-notice, up from 5.9% a year earlier.

The relatively high ‘abuse’ rate is one of the main reasons why YouTube hasn’t opened up its Content ID system to a broader group of rightsholders. After all, a Content ID mistake has the potential to impact many thousands of user uploads at once.

“While a single copyright removal requested from the webform impacts only one (or a handful) of videos, a single invalid reference file in Content ID can impact thousands of videos and users, stripping them of monetization or blocking them altogether,” YouTube clarifies.

This doesn’t mean that Content ID is perfect, of course. There have been plenty of mistakes in the past and even outright criminal abuse. With the current setup, YouTube hopes to have found a balance that most rightsholders and content creators can live with. Whether that’s indeed the case, depends on who you ask.


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