As part of longstanding efforts to prove that it’s serious about combating piracy, Google today revealed some updated numbers from across its various digital products.
Arguably the most interesting figure from the company’s latest How Google Fights Piracy report relates to YouTube’s Content ID. Indeed, Google revealed that it has spent more than $100 million on the technology since its inception, including computing resources and staffing, up from $60 million two years ago.
And it has also now doled out more than $3 billion to rightsholders, up from “over $2 billion” in 2016 and $1 billion two years before that.
A decade of Content ID
From as far back as 2007, YouTube has offered Content ID — or Video Identification, as it was previously known — which automatically identifies copyrighted content on the video-streaming service and asks the rightsholders what they would like to have happen next. They may choose to monetize the video by showing ads, or they may request that the video be blocked.
Earlier this year, YouTube revealed that it would begin using Content ID data to display full music credits and link to the official videos.
There are downsides to the automated technology though. For example, a short non-publicly listed video of your kid performing in a school show that just happens to have some barely audible music playing in the background can be targeted by Content ID, with little recourse for appeal. But by and large, the technology serves as an effective way to give copyright holders a say in how their content is used.
In its latest report, Google said that 98 percent of copyright claims in 2017 were made through Content ID, and more than 90 percent of Content ID claims lead to some form of monetization. Additionally, the company noted that it paid out more than $1.8 billion to the music industry in ad revenue from October 2017 to September 2018.
This latest PR push comes a month after a new report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) found that despite the growing uptake of legal music-streaming platforms, 38 percent of listeners still consume music through illegal means. One of the most popular methods, according to the report, is so-called “stream-ripping,” which uses software to record audio from YouTube and other sites. Earlier this year, Denmark became the first country globally to declare stream-ripping illegal and ruled that one site called Convert2MP3 should be blocked by ISPs.
Google and its video-streaming subsidiary are somewhat limited in how they can physically stop stream-ripping, short of lawsuits, a course Google has pursued in the past. But with Content ID, it can exert some control over the content that is uploaded to its platform.
“The internet has enabled people worldwide to connect, create, and distribute new works of art like never before,” noted Google’s head of copyright, Cedric Manara, in a blog post. “A key part of preserving this creative economy is ensuring creators and artists have a way to share and make money from their content — and preventing the flow of money to those who seek to pirate that content.”
Elsewhere in Google’s latest report, the company said that rightsholders notified the company about 882 million URLs on Google Search last year, with Google removing 95 percent of those that were flagged. It also said that in 2017 it blocked more than 10 million ads it “suspected of copyright infringement or that linked to infringing sites.”
“Through continued innovation and partnership, we’re committed to curtailing infringement by bad actors while empowering the creative communities who make many of the things we love about the internet today,” Manara added.
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