YouTube Content ID Claims Reach All-Time High — 826 Million Claims In Just 6 Months

YouTube Content ID claims
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YouTube Content ID claims
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Photo Credit: YouTube

YouTube’s recent transparency report shows the number of Content ID copyright system claims has reached a new high — 826 million claims in just six months.

YouTube’s latest transparency report reveals that the number of Content ID system claims has hit a new high during the latter half of 2022. The advanced copyright tool flagged over 826 million issues, nearly all automated. These claims generate roughly $1.5 billion in additional annual payouts to rightsholders through monetization options.

That is the highest figure since YouTube began reporting these figures and a 9% uplift over the same period the previous year when 759 million videos were flagged. This increase in claims happened despite fewer copyright holders actively using the Content ID system, dropping from 4,840 in 2021 to 4,646 in 2022.

While anyone can send a DMCA notice to YouTube, most copyright actions come from the Content ID system that can only be utilized by a select group of copyright holders. To protect copyright holders, YouTube regularly disables, removes, or demonetizes videos allegedly containing infringing content based on these claims.

The number of claims rightsholders made on YouTube was unknown for years, but this changed two years ago when the platform launched its first transparency report. Since then, the number of claims has risen steadily.

YouTube has managed to cast its Content ID system in a different light to rightsholders, allowing them to monetize infringing content instead of merely taking it offline. The concept of monetizing piracy is unusual but has resulted in a healthy revenue stream opportunity; rightsholders chose to monetize over 90% of all Content ID claims.

It’s no surprise that rightsholders’ primary goal remains monetization. By allowing creators to match and monetize their content across Meta and YouTube, companies like Identifyy (owned by HAAWK) are focusing on this very aspect and leveraging the advanced capabilities of Content ID.

During 2022, copyright holders were paid around $1.5 billion due to their Content ID claims. Since the system launched several years ago, $9 billion in claimed revenue has been paid out to copyright holders.

Unfortunately, the revenue opportunities with Content ID have resulted in scammers trying to steal a piece of the pie. In one case, two men set up a company to find and claim unmonetized music via a third-party partner with access to the Content ID system. The scam generated over $24 million in revenue from YouTube by falsely claiming ownership.

But the abuse didn’t go unnoticed. In 2020, the US Department of Justice indicted the two men, with the first defendant sentenced last week to more than five years in prison.

“We take abuse of our tools seriously — we terminate tens of thousands of accounts each year that attempt to abuse our copyright tools,” the company says. “Sometimes this takes the form of political actors attempting to censor political speech or companies stifling criticism of their products or practices. Other times individuals try to use our copyright processes to bully other creators or to remove videos they see as competing for the same audience.”

Nearly all Content ID claims (99.5%) are processed automatically through fingerprinting technology, with potentially-infringing content flagged by technology with little human oversight. This process saves YouTube and rightsholders a lot of resources. Still, it can also be a potential source of abuse and errors, which is one of the reasons why a limited group of verified rightsholders are eligible for the program.

YouTube says that manual Content ID claims are more than twice as likely to be disputed than automated ones (0.94% vs. 0.43%) — but since there are 200 times more automated claims, these still account for the bulk of all disputes.