By Timothy Geigner
Even a cursory review of just the headlines on our posts about YouTube’s ContentID will demonstrate a theme. That theme mostly centers around how the automagic copyright detection system that YouTube put in place is mostly useful for creating collateral damage on non-infringing material, often times at the expense of the rightsholders themselves. Whenever this happens, there are usually apologies issued, blame cast on ContentID for the mistake, and then everything continues on with no changes made. Which is absurd. These situations identify a flaw in the ContentID system, or the use of an automated system of any kind, and yet we never do anything about it.
Which is why this sort of thing keeps happening. The most recent example of this concerns tons of Super Mario Bros. speedruns being issued copyright notices because the YouTube channel for the Guinness Book of World Records uploaded a record-holding speedrun itself. From there, ContentID did its thing.
About nine months ago, Guinness put together a video profile on Super Mario Bros speedrunner Kosmic including footage from his record-breaking warpless run. Now, Kosmic’s own video of the record and tons of other SMB speedrunners have had copyright claims made on their similar videos.
Guinness have now released those claims saying “sorry for causing concern, we know how distressing it can be to get these notifications,” signed by Dan. Ta, Dan.
The Guinness people later tweeted out the explanation that ContentID was to blame for sending out the automatic claims. And I believe them. Still, this is again highlighting a flaw within the ContentID system, in that, far too often, legitimate content either gets taken down or issued a copyright notice all because no human being actually has to look at anything before those go out. And, since there are plenty of ways a video could use similar content, or even a copy of some part of some content, without being infringing, the automatic system fails at distinguishing that and sends out the notice anyway.
This is how it always is with these automatic content policing systems. And yet here is another case where the apology is made, the apologizer blames ContentID, and on and on we go. Even when another speedrunner, Karl Jobst, did a video on how his speedrun received a copyright notice, that video received a notice as well.
Funnily enough, even Jobst’s video on the subject initially got slapped with a copyright claim. Thankfully it sounds like Guinness have cooled their trigger finger.
But it’s not funny. It’s just frustrating.