Algorithms like YouTube's content ID harm fair use, free speech, and creativity

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/12/17/algorithms-like-youtubes-content-id-harm-fair-use-free-speech-and-creativity.html

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These rules disproportionately affect audio, making virtually any use of music risky.

It’s not just music. My wife, who does a civil war history channel that discusses the different battles with memes and facts just got a DMCA takedown. She thought it might be the intro music, which is fair use, and she has all the correct permissions to use, but it turns out they had done it on her speaking voice. They were claiming copyright to her fucking 3 minutes of talking in the 3+ minute video. The only music was the intro.

She get’s regular take down notices every week for videos that are of her speaking. It’s nuts, and exhausting.

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YouTube spent a lot of time to build a system to serve content “owners” whose specious claims test credulity in the best of situations.

Earlier this year @garethb2 posted about Rick Beato’s channel, getting me hooked on his song deconstructions and Top 20 lists. As mentioned in that article, Beato’s channel got blocked repeatedly because of his use and performance of music in his videos.

I enjoyed watching Beato’s later videos about testifying before Congress regarding YouTube, Fair Use and Content ID. Here’s to hoping these and other arguments bring more attention to how it slows down innovation and stifles speech.

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My guilty pleasure is to unwind by taking an edible and watching music experts (e.g. Beato, music teachers, pro musicians etc.) react to music I like. It’s interesting to see how many bands/labels just don’t get it with regards to reactions. It’s free advertising by highly engaged individuals interacting with a community of fans of your music. People don’t watch this stuff to ‘steal’ your music!

I’ve learned about so much good music just by watching someone react to music I like then clicking on to something else they’ve reacted to that I haven’t heard before. Some labels and bands encourage this, and as a result they’re getting their music in front of people that would otherwise not know about it. Other times, I see a reaction appear briefly and then it’s gone, copystricken. Well, now I don’t know about your music and won’t be buying/streaming it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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amber-ruffin-what-confused

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Yeah. She tried just letting YouTube remove the claimed content and they literally removed three minutes of her speaking about a civil war battle.

The folks making these claims don’t even own the rights to the music they make claims on. Her intro is approved and fine but folks that don’t own it make claims all the time.

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Did they claim she was taking from another source without proper attribution, maybe? Could an author made a claim perhaps?

This seems crazy to me. It’s the same kind of synthesizing of materials anyone lecturing on a general historical topic is going to do…

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They said it matched their song, I think. It was the most egregious she’s gotten since she’s started. It’s her own write ups, her own speaking, her own everything. She makes jokes and memes so it’s definitely original material. They were seeking to put adds onto her videos to benefit themselves.

The number of claims she’s getting is exploding as she gains subscribers.

They claimed it was their’s, but that’s not as surprising. Some of the claims are made by people that don’t own the rights. It’s a numbers game, and if not disputed they can put adds on videos and get revenue from it. The system is slanted towards claimants, with no review possible until you hit 1000 subscribers. She’s just under that mark, so she can only contest it. She contests them all the time, and so far they have all been released.

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That’s totally batshit!

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Interestingly, “ContentID” is trademarked by Audible Magic, the company YouTube originally bought their system from. (Full disclosure. I’m a former employee of Audible Magic, but I don’t have stock in the company.) [ see https colon slash slash en dot wikipedia dot org slash wiki slash Content_ID_(system)#Trademark_lawsuit ] Second, at my Audible Magic interview I described how YouTube issued me a take-down notice for videos of waves crashing in Santa Cruz and how that probably triggered a match and offered a few suggestions for how they could fix it. Thirdly, some of the details of the algorithms are public (there are patents.) And there are journal articles. I don’t think specific details are in the public domain, but it’s not too hard to learn the basics about how the algorithms work.

And lastly. The Automated Content Recognition industry is very, very weird but has some interesting math.

Is it possible that she is being targeted by people who don’t like what she has to say, or who she is?

She wouldn’t be the first person to be targeted with takedowns by right wing arseholes. The rules are being weaponised against us by the far-right, and if we fight back using the same rules they call it cancel culture and claim to be the real victims.

I’m not a YouTuber, and the only takedown notice I’ve ever gotten for my work was a photograph, but it was musically related.


Bet you’ll never guess what company deemed this image to be their ‘intellectual property’.

That is possible. She does not do revisionist pro confederate propaganda. She’s big on historical factual content.

However this last round are from known takedown people that have a google-able history of DMCA takedowns so we think the weird alt-right racist dudes haven’t hit that angle yet with her videos. They usually just hit her comments with “Actually the civil war was about” and any reason that exonerates slavery. They are vile but not as organized as the DMCA content monetizers.

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I feel like so much of this would get taken care of if there were any penalty whatsoever for abusing the system.

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