Google Fires Back Against Composer Maria Schneider’s Content ID Lawsuit: ‘YouTube’s Novel Copyright Management Tools Are So Powerful, They Must Be Used With Care’

TikTok beat Google in Traffic in 2021
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TikTok beat Google in Traffic in 2021
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Photo Credit: Mitchell Luo

YouTube has officially fired back against Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider and several other parties who are suing over alleged Content ID discrimination.

This latest development in the years-running courtroom confrontation just recently came to light in a nearly 50-page-long filing – including multiple counterclaims – from the Google subsidiary. In brief, Maria Schneider and additional plaintiffs maintain that rightsholders lacking “economic clout” are denied access to Content ID “for prepublication protection,” even if their works have been infringed on the video-sharing service “thousands of times.”

(Schneider has long spoken out against Google’s business practices and far-reaching influence, besides the perceived threat posed by certain byproducts of technological growth, including at her orchestra’s concerts.)

Earlier this month, YouTube unsuccessfully attempted to have the case tossed, before battling with Schneider and others over the precise extent of necessary data disclosures. And now, as initially noted, the platform has issued a formal answer and a series of counterclaims.

Perhaps the most interesting component of this in-depth answer is YouTube’s contention that its “novel copyright management tools are so powerful, they must be used with care.” (The document also reiterates off the bat that the defendant has dropped “well over a hundred million dollars to pioneer industry-leading copyright management tools like its Content ID system.”)

“These special tools enable users to automatically (or at the touch of a button) remove content from YouTube or block it from appearing in the first place,” the firmly worded answer elaborates. “Misused or put in the wrong hands, these tools can be used to censor videos that others have every right to share through YouTube.”

And building upon the idea that YouTube justifiably “limits access to Content ID,” the answer proceeds to take aim at (and levy the aforementioned counterclaims against) a company called Pirate Monitor, but not the current plaintiffs.

In short, YouTube and Google claimed in late 2020 to have identified a “smoking gun” involving Pirate Monitor, which was originally a plaintiff in the suit but exited the case in early 2021. (Multiple additional plaintiffs subsequently joined Schneider in the action, as highlighted.)

Said smoking gun refers specifically to “a fraudulent scheme to obtain access to YouTube’s copyright management systems,” including by “using false identities and/or agents” to upload close to 2,000 videos featuring media that Pirate Monitor purportedly owns and then demanding (via DMCA requests from Pirate Monitor itself) the videos’ removal.

“Pirate Monitor and Csupó [the entity’s California-based ‘sole decision maker’ and ‘alter ego’] violated the law,” the counteraction relays. “Either they lied to YouTube when they uploaded the videos in the first place, or lied when they demanded their removal.

“Their misrepresentations were intended to fool YouTube into believing that they could be trusted not to abuse YouTube’s powerful copyright management tools, including Content ID. And their machinations render them liable to YouTube for breach of contract and fraud or, alternatively, violations of Section 512(f) of the DMCA.”

Elsewhere in the voluminous filing, YouTube emphasized that it “has not found corporate registration information for a ‘Pirate Monitor LLC’ anywhere in the world.” At the time of this writing, the counter-defendant didn’t appear to have issued a public response to the action.