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YouTubers hit with wave of copyright claims

New measures spell trouble for monetisation on user-created videos, several publishers distance themselves from crackdown

YouTubers have reported a dramatic spike in the number of copyright claims made against their videos this week, as YouTube implements new measures to stamp out copyright violations on the site.

The news that YouTube was planning to crack down on videos using copyrighted images and music emerged at the end of last week, but the new measures weren't expected until early next year.

However, according to a number of sources - many of which have clustered on the NeoGaf forum - YouTubers are already seeing a huge increase in the volume of copyright claims made against their videos on behalf of game companies. The ramifications for YouTubers - an increasingly popular and lucrative sector of the games press - could be severe, as a copyright claim effectively prevents the uploader from monetising their content.

One popular YouTube channel, Force Strategy Gaming, published a video criticising the "content ID sweep" that has taken place this week. In just a few days, the number of copyright claims received in the history of the channel have doubled, "and it seems like every time I refresh the page a couple more pop up."

Force highlighted game trailers, game music and in-game cut-scenes as "the biggest offenders" for those making the claims, with even videos containing just a few seconds from a trailer called into question and stripped of their monetisation potential. Force claimed that a certain amount of copyright material is classified as "fair use", but he predicted that these stricter enforcement policies could have a huge impact on YouTubers specialising in "Let's Play" videos - a very popular new form widely regarded as beneficial to the products it critiques.

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"I do this full-time, and put out the amount and quality of content that I do because I make money off of it," Force said. "If I didn't make money, I couldn't do that. I put in 50 to 60 hours a week, every single week, and I work seven days a week... That's the thing to remember. I know some people hate that people make money from YouTube, but it contributes to the quality that you see on YouTube, because the [monetisation] allows us to do it full-time."

Earlier this week, CramGaming published an article explaining that, next year, YouTube would start pre-screening videos when they are first published, before any monetisation can take place. Until now, major networks like Machinima were able to bypass these checks, which were still implemented randomly for videos uploaded by individuals, who had to seek permission directly from the copyright holder.

However, not all publishers seem to agree with the new policies. Capcom published a tweet indicating that some part of the flood of new copyright claims may be "illegitimate," and Blizzard beseeched YouTubers to context any claims made, "so that we can quickly approve them."

This morning, Ubisoft issued a note to the press stating that new claims have been made against videos featuring its games due to a system that "auto-matches" audio against its own digital music catalogue. Ubisoft is endeavouring to resolve these claims on the same day it receives notice of each incident, and reiterated that its policies allow people to make and monetise bespoke videos based on its game content.

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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