In the last couple of days there have been thousand of takedown notice issued involving gaming footage on Youtube. There are now a number of reports that both individuals and companies that upload gaming footage are being deluged with copyright claims. The claims don’t appear to be coming from the gaming developer in fact many of them including Capcom and Blizzard has offered to help those effected. Many takedown claims are being issued by the companies that own the copyrights to the background music for gaming videos, companies such as IDOL which is a music distribution firm and Bafta (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts). In fact to make things worse many of the take down notices appear to be coming from companies that don”t have the copyrights or companies that are no longer in business. The takedown notices are being issued through the Automated Content ID system, which was recently updated. The system is now flagging videos which previously had been missed. Most of these videos involve cut scenes, game play, outtakes and in-game music.
Many of the companies and individuals that are being effected including major player such as TheRadBrad, GhostRobo and Machinima depend on these Youtube videos for their revenue when videos are pulled no revenue is coming to them. While the takedown occur automatically an appeal can take days even weeks to be settled. The videos may still visible to the user, but the revenue is now going to the copyright holders instead of the individual or companies that uploaded and created the videos. Some people think that this is related to the changes that are supposed to be coming in January in relationship to Affiliates and Managed users and the monetization review process, although that is yet to be confirmed.
Google’s response appears to be less than adequate, basically stating if you don’t like it appeal. This is going to take a while to sort out, it appears there are very few winners in this story. The people who are producing the videos are losing revenue, the game developers are losing free advertisement and viewers maybe losing the ability to see well-developed and useful gaming videos. In my opinion this appears to be another case of copyright enforcement gone amuck.
Starting soon if your site is hit by numerous DMCA takedown notices it may affect your listing in google search. Google stated in their post
“Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our ranking: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.”
There are some problems with this new policy. First Google determines what is a valid DMCA takedown. A valid takedown simply means that there was a complaint against the site, the correct paperwork was filled out and there was no counter-claim filed. It doesn’t mean the takedown has gone through any legal process and has been found valid by a court of law. Critics complain that if someone has a beef against a site they could use this to issue false claims to punish the site.
As stated by the EFF
“Takedown requests are nothing more than accusations of copyright infringement. No court or other umpire confirms that the accusations are valid (although copyright owners can be liable for bad-faith accusations). Demoting search results – effectively telling the searcher that these are not the websites you’re looking for – based on accusations alone gives copyright owners one more bit of control over what we see, hear, and read.”
Google has stated that sites may appeal if they believe they have been falsely accused. However it is not clear what number would be considered numerous and if the sites themselves will be notified of the reason they are being demoted in search.
Sites are still listed under Google Search, but most likely will not show up on the first page of search, which means people who are search ninjas, will have no trouble finding these sites, however most normal people searches stop at the first page. Which means for all practical purposes the punish sites will not exist for most people. This will clearly hurt BitTorrent sites who are used to share both legitimate files, but also pirated media and games
Many people believe that by establishing this policy Google is trying to placate Hollywood and the music industry who have long complained that Google hasn’t done enough to filter pirated sites. In fact many people have nick named this policy the Emanuel Policy, after Ari Emanuel, Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor who complained at the D Conference earlier this year that Google wasn’t doing enough to filter pirated content
One of the reasons that Google maybe doing this at this time is because it is a content provider now and so it needs to establish partnership with Hollywood media. Google has denied this and says it is because they finally have the data they need. Interestingly both YouTube and Blogger sites will not be effected by the changes in search policy. Search Engine Land explains why this is so in How YouTube will Escape Google’s New Pirate Penalty. I expect that you will start to hear howls from various sites once this policy goes into effect.