Copyright continues to dominate conversation within the digital age as online creators struggle to make money from the content they create. YouTube is changing how copyright claims surrounding small or “unintentional” clips of music within videos are regulated, hoping that it will make it fairer for the creators, the people which ultimately form the foundation of its platform. According to the new rules, rights holders (record labels) will no longer be able to earn money from ads placed on a video when they manually file a copyright claim for a “very short” clip of music used in a video or music that is unintentionally playing in the background of a video . However, they will still have the option to manually demonetise a video or block a video entirely, if they deem it to breach copyright. They will also still be able to earn money if a video is caught by YouTube’s Content ID system.

There has been a rise in manually filed copyright complaints in recent months, YouTube is hoping that this new update will reduce the number of complaints in the long term as record companies will not be searching for these opportunities to make money. However, it is expected to drive up the number of claims in the short term, with record labels likely to increase the number of claims in protest of this news, which will have the opposite of the desired effect for creators.

The success of this new rule change will ultimately depend on how well YouTube enforces it. Firstly, it would be helpful if the channel provided some clarification on what “very short” and “unintentional” actually mean in relation to YouTube videos, without this, the new regulations could be left open to interpretation. There is likely to be a large grey area in terms of infringements and it will be interesting to see whether YouTube fall on the side of their creator community or the record labels, both key sources of revenue. Secondly, although it will be against the new rules, rights holders will still be able to select an option to make money of an infringing video as part of the manual claims process, and so YouTube will have to keep rights holders in check just as much as the creators. Whilst this update seems to be backed by the best intentions, we’re not sure it will provide an all-round solution to the issue of copyright on the platform.

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