Is the YouTube Content ID Lawsuit Fading Away? Maria Schneider Makes Another Attempt for Class Action Status as Trial Date Looms

Schneider Makes Another Attempt For Class Action Status Against YouTube
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Schneider Makes Another Attempt For Class Action Status Against YouTube
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Photo Credit: Gerd Altmann

The YouTube lawsuit that originally had creators on the edge of their seats is now losing its glamor. Plaintiff Maria Schneider, a Grammy-winning jazz musician, now faces the prospect of trying a case that will do little to move the needle on Content ID.

With mere days until the June 12 trial, Schneider is making one more desperate attempt to certify the case for class action status. Schneider’s legal team has appealed to the Ninth Circuit for case proceedings to be paused until their appeal against Judge Donato’s May ruling is heard.

Maria Schneider’s Content ID lawsuit came into the spotlight last year, appearing to be the savior that could redefine the copyright infringement landscape. But to the despair of many, the case has progressed quite disappointingly. YouTube seems to be emerging unscathed, and creators’ dreams of universal access to Content ID might remain just that — a dream.

When Schneider’s team first requested class-action status, they stated it would include 10,000 — 20,000 claimants. But Judge Ronald Donato ruled that “Copyright claims are poor candidates for class-action treatment.”

Schneider’s legal team believes this ruling was “erroneous” and should be overturned. They are now requesting the Ninth Circuit to halt the upcoming court proceedings until a decision is reached regarding the class action certification.

If the lawsuit proceeds as scheduled on June 12, and the district court’s ruling against class certification is not reversed, Schneider’s lawyers argue that the plaintiffs will be forced to make individual claims. According to them, this will result in significant costs associated with duplicate trials.

Schneider and other plaintiffs argue that YouTube does not adequately assist independent creators in preventing the unauthorized distribution of their content on the platform.

The lawsuit alleges that while YouTube’s Content ID is a sophisticated rights management system, it is only accessible to large copyright-holding companies. Meanwhile, independent creators must manually monitor and manage the unlicensed use of their content. Plaintiffs allege that the manual system provided by YouTube is flawed, implying that the Google-owned company fails to fulfill its obligations under copyright law to prevent infringement of works on its platform.

Unless Schneider’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit comes to fruition, the lawsuit’s original ambition of forcing YouTube to offer universal access to the Content ID management system, seems highly unlikely.