YouTube users have been complaining more and more over the years about the website’s Content ID system automatically taking down videos for copyright infringement when no infringement has taken place. We’ve all heard stories showing how ridiculous the process can be, from unscrupulous companies claiming copyright over the music in videos and stealing ad revenue, to infringement claims being made over the sound of a cat purring. But a recent copyright takedown by FOX and Family Guy really underscores how backwards the whole process can be.
In last Sunday’s episode of Family Guy, there’s a scene where Peter, Quagmire, and Cleveland play the 80s Nintendo game Double Dribble, with Peter exploiting a glitch in the game that lets him sink every three point shot he takes. The scene switches from animation to footage from the video game taken from a YouTube video uploaded by user sw1tched in 2009 that shows off the glitch.
You might be able to guess what happened next. FOX put the episode of Family Guy through the YouTube Content ID system and it determined that sw1tched’s video contained FOX’s content. The original Double Dribble glitch video was taken down, and we have to assume sw1tched received a strike against their account. Too many strikes, and their channel along with all their videos would be nuked, along with their ability to upload anything in the future.
The whole situation just underlines how YouTube has a guilty until proven innocent system where large content companies regularly send bogus and incorrect takedown notices to average users. It’s then up to those users to try and fight the takedown through a process on the site that many have argued is arbitrary and lacking in transparency.
This latest incident where a user had his content stolen from YouTube by a FOX program and then removed from YouTube because it appeared in that FOX program is just the latest example that YouTube isn’t serving its average users very well in the face of aggressive takedown notices from large corporations. And yet as we can see from the Family Guy clip in question being available for viewing on YouTube, none of this even fixes the actual issue in question!
(Update: The Double Dribble YouTube video has since been restored. Kotaku has a statement from a Fox spokesperson noting that the clip was temporarily taken down as part of the network’s piracy checks and the situation has since been rectified. “As soon as we became aware of the circumstances, the content was restored,” explained the spokesperson.)