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How YouTube Handles Copyright Infringement

Youtube Internet RadioIn the last several years, thousands of Internet users have been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, also known as the RIAA. The charges: copyright infringement. With widespread availability of high speed connections, it has become more and more convenient for people to just download their favorite music, music video or movies. Over the years, this trend has become such a common practice that the film-making and music industries eventually noticed drastic decline in their sales. This observation compelled the RIAA to sue Internet users who had been identified downloading copyrighted materials.

RIAA Lawsuits

…the RIAA is after individuals that upload more than a thousand files…

When the counter measures against these downloaders did not deliver the desired results, the RIAA tweaked their tactics a bit. Instead of going after the downloaders, the RIAA is now after individuals that upload more than a thousand files in a certain time frame. Internet Service Providers have been put on notice that they need to regulate their subscribers; it almost seems that the RIAA is attempting to place the burden of ensuring the copyright law is respected by Internet users on the backs of the user’s respective ISPs. In a way it makes sense: you upload illegal files, you lose your Internet connection, you suddenly have to means of uploading further files for illegal distribution.

YouTube Copyright Issues

The same concepts apply to YouTube, the third most popular website on the Internet (as per Alexa ranking). YouTube dealt with several controversies even before it became the number one video sharing site. First, its name was controversial: another website that sounded like YouTube filed a lawsuit when their site became overloaded with traffic from users searching for YouTube. In the following years, several companies sued them for allegedly failing to promote copyright law by letting its users upload copyrighted materials, accusations for which YouTube is most likely liable.

YouTube’s Stand

YouTube’s primary defense is its terms of service, which prompt users not to upload any material that is owned by someone else without the permission of the latter. Because YouTube doesn’t have the regulation and the ability to filter the videos uploaded by its users, numerous unauthorized clips of copyrighted materials are being uploaded every day.

YouTube states on its site that the burden of ensuring copyright protection is left up to copyright holders. There is a form and instructions on the same page that allow copyright holders to notify YouTube of copyright infringement.

YouTube’s latest approach to enforcing copyright protection is aimed at video clips that contain copyrighted music as a soundtrack. They have devised a sound-scanning system that searches soundtracks for copyrighted music during processing. Then, based on which recording company holds the copyright, YouTube either blocks the sound from playing or plays ads to enable YouTube to pay royalty fees to the copyright holder.

The verdict: music and other copyrighted material on YouTube is not going away; they have shown aptitude for solving any issues that pop up before, and there’s little doubt that they’ll find a way to work with the recording companies and other copyright holders to be able to continue displaying the content that everyone wants to see.

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  • About the Author:
    Jeff Bachmeier is owner of, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile.

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