TikTok Copyright Takedowns More Than Tripled in 2022 — What Will 2023 Look Like?

TikTok copyright takedowns
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TikTok copyright takedowns
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Photo Credit: TikTok

TikTok releases the latest data on copyright and trademark content removal requests the company processed last year, revealing numbers that more than tripled from the previous year.

As short-form video content platform TikTok continues to battle criticism from multiple fronts, the company revealed its latest data on copyright and trademark content removal requests in 2022, which have more than tripled from the previous year. In fact, the numbers from July to December 2022 far outshine and nearly double those from the first half of that year.

The data shows 168,141 copyright removal requests and 19,239 trademark removal requests from July to December 2022. That’s a marked increase from 94,267 copyright removal requests and 12,392 trademark removal requests from the first half of the year, January to June 2022. Meanwhile, copyright removal requests clocked in at 49,821 and 6,379 trademark removal requests from July to December 2021.

“We honor valid removal requests based on infringements of copyright law and trademark law,” says TikTok. The company explains that upon receiving a valid report of potential intellectual property infringement from a rights holder or authorized representative, TikTok may remove the infringing content and temporarily or permanently suspend the account that posted it.

Considering the sheer number of movie and TV show clips that pop up on users’ For You pages — many of them accompanied by a generic stock audio track playing underneath or a grainy video filter placed over the top — puts into perspective why TikTok is receiving so many more copyright removal requests every six months.

Current shows like “Young Sheldon,” classics like “The Sopranos,” and films like “Erin Brockovich” have all enjoyed their moment in the sun on the platform, with a boost in popularity for the unauthorized uploads until the company takes them down.

Hundreds of accounts take part in the trend, boasting thousands of followers and millions of likes. Users try to skirt copyright by lowering the quality of the content, mirroring the clip, or adding audio or filters — some even censor depictions of smoking or blood, as TikTok’s guidelines prohibit both.

The trend is so popular that even studios themselves are uploading their content — broken up into 20-plus parts — onto the platform. On October 3, Paramount Pictures uploaded the entire one hour and 47 minute film, “Mean Girls,” entirely for free. Studios aren’t violating copyright to upload their own films to the TikTok platform, but the practice undoubtedly eliminates any residuals to which actors like Lindsay Lohan may be entitled to if they showed the film through traditional broadcast or streaming services.

Posting clips of movies and TV shows falls within fair use, a legal loophole designed for media like talk shows to show promotional clips. But as the SAG-AFTRA strike wears on and the WGA strike winds down, creatives are critical of studios like Paramount for finding yet another way not to pay them for their work.