YouTube’s Copyright Match Tool: What It Is & How To Use It

Today it looks like YouTube is rolling out the long-awaited Copyright Match tool, which will let normal Creators deal with video-stealers. In the past it’s mostly just been larger companies that have been privy to Content ID and other more exclusive tools.

youtube's description of the copyright match process. Create videos, copies of content will be automatically found, and youtube will allow you to act on them.
A basic rundown of the tool, via YouTube

The tool was announced a while ago but (at least for me) just released and was added to the YouTube Studio Beta, where it can be found in the new Copyright section.

How Copyright Match Works

You’ll get an email when you have access to Copyright Match in the new Studio Beta dashboard. It’s not presently in the old Creator Studio.

You’ll be shown something like below, assuming you have any matches. It lists the videos, some metadata on them, and includes links to the video to see it. You should check the video manually to see the exact context it’s used in, though as you can see in the below images, my matches were all 100% direct rips with not so much as a commentary track or video edit of any kind.

Copyright Matches on YouTube
Some good old fashioned content thieves, using videos from my channel

All in all it was pretty simple for me; just 3 videos, all 100% start-to-finish rips of my own videos uploaded as their own, and on channels loaded exclusively with stolen videos. I selected all three, then you’re given a little form to fill out affirming that you’re the content owner:

Of note, the physical address of your channel/self is not given to the other party unless they attempt to sue you. This is a step up from the current process which would require a hard address. Granted, some people simply spoof information in the existing system.

After this form, a real, meat human reviews the case at YouTube, and only after this review is the video actually struck and removed. Theoretically this will reduce abuse, though it’s YouTube we’re talking about here so that remains to be seen.

Removal Options

There’s three main options when you get a match: Archive, Request Removal, and Contact.

Archive simply archives the match (use this when no action is needed), Contact lets you request removal manually or otherwise work things out by talking to the uploading channel without (yet) sending a strike.

Request Removal has two sub options; you can give a 7 day notice, or request immediate removal. With the 7 day notice, the other party has 7 days to remove the video before a strike. This is best used for cases where  you truly do want the video down but for whatever reason don’t believe they channel deserves an instant hit, such as ignorant but not malicious misuse. The instant removal you can use for all your humdrum “yeah I’ll just copy paste this video and claim it as my own” stuff.

Generally speaking total mismatches/fair use/etc should be Archived, rude but not infringing videos should be Contacted (for example, a “react” style video that you’re okay with, except they didn’t even bother to link your channel in the description), and outright copied videos with malicious intent should be Removed.

Why The Copyright Match Tool Is Good

Copyright tools on YouTube have long exclusively been for large companies, like the ever-suing Viacom or “Blocked In Germany” GEMA. Copyright Match is the first time that regular creators will have any form of say in how their videos are used with a meaningfully effective process.

Notably, unlike Content ID not all matched videos are treated the same, since the creator (an actual human) has to review and select an action on each video.

This addresses the issue of Content ID where many people just wanted to claim videos of improper use, but end up netting everyone because Content ID is purely automated and has no concept of fair use. On top of that, many people won’t bother appealing either, as YouTube deliberately makes the process quite intimidating.

Hopefully this tool leads to the removal of a lot of these old scummy channels that have never been hit simply because normal people haven’t previously had a say in YouTube copyright issues. The three channels that stole my content for example were almost immediately identifiable as infringement, being filled with Let’s Play videos of multiple different people, podcasts, and even full episodes of TV shows.

What About Abuse?

Of course any new YouTube copyright tool carries the potential of abuse. I’m quite familiar with YouTube copyright abuses at an unfortunately personal level. But it’s pretty much all good  news in this case due to a rather simple qualifier; you have to have been the first to upload the video to claim it.

This means that you can’t just upload someone else’s video after the fact and claim you’re the real owner; Copyright Match will only ever match newer videos matching an extremely high portion of your video.

Is it impossible to abuse? Well nothing’s impossible. A worst-case scenario I can easily think of would be a movie or game trailer being distributed to press outlets, then someone at the movie/game company deciding to strike all channels that uploaded the trailer they offered for distribution…but that’s not exactly good business sense.

A more realistic fear I have is the potential of recording a short clip of the intro or cutscenes of a video game and very quickly uploading them and potentially matching parts of Let’s Play and other gaming videos that include that segment.

You would have to be the first to do this and manage to trigger the match, then a real human at YouTube would have to approve your claim for it to actually go through. I’m not sure how practical this theoretical attack is, it’s just a potential example. As you can see there’s quite a few stops along the way.

All in all I would say this is at the very least, the most abuse-proof copyright/trademark related tool that YouTube has in their toolbox, considering abuse of their other tools.

In the past their copyright mechanisms have let anyone claim any video and appealing was incredibly difficult. This tool only lets you claim content you have actually uploaded before later uploaders, and lets you be human in your decision to remove it, contact the uploader, or just let it slide.

Tap Into YouTube: Launch Day Is Too Late For PR

As a reviewer if there’s one mistake I see in my inbox more often than any other, it’s developers reaching out to press on their game’s launch day. Sometimes, even up to a week after release.

I’m not entirely sure the general reason for this; whether it’s seen as not necessary to reach out first, or perhaps it’s some attempt at avoiding “embargo breakers”, but it’s probably the most easily corrected major mistake you can make in your game marketing.

Don’t break your game’s sales just because you didn’t want to send out some emails before launch.

Tap Into YouTube is a series on YouTube and Games PR, written from the perspective of a YouTube Content creator. That’s me!

It’s meant to help both devs and YouTubers serve their audience the best and work with each other productively.

What’s the big deal? Well…

Reviews Take Time

The biggest factor here is that if it takes me a week to write a review (not uncommon, especially for smaller shops or larger games), and you send me your game the day of release, you’re logically going to get reviews a week after release. And that’s at the earliest; you’re probably not at the top of my queue. Especially since you emailed me the day you launched your game!

“The amount of time it takes to review your game is significantly higher than the time it takes to play your game”

Gaming reviewers are infamously crunched for time and often forced to rush out reviews for games they haven’t finished, spend crazy hours to finish a game in time, or take other unfortunate steps that pretty universally result in both worse working conditions for the reviewer and a lower quality review.

To write a thorough review ideally the player will have to complete the game, or in some cases like Multiplayer or Roguelike titles, at least play far enough to feel a sense of reasonably complete understanding of the game. 

In addition to the game itself, budget in the time for writing, editing, replaying to verify certain details, checking out additional modes, and other features. After all that, the time it takes to review your game is significantly higher than the time it takes to play your game. Always keep this in mind.

If there’s one person you don’t want to rush, it’s your reviewer. When you’re rushed, every flaw is that much more grating. Every complexity is that much more unwelcome. Every high is that much more fleeting. By rushing reviewers it’s quite possible you’re harming your own review scores, let alone the number and timing of those reviews.

Scheduling Issues

Sort of a sub-point of point number one, but even if I can respond to your game in a snap as, say, a Livestreamer who plays through games blind for first-impressions streams, I still may be unable to play your game until a few days after launch. I might have previously announced plans, things I’ve been waiting months to do, I might be on vacation, heck, you might just happen to release on the day I’m not at work!

Your game is probably the only thing on your mind. It is not the only thing on the mind of everyone you’re emailing about your game. That’s one of the biggest things to realize when handling your PR and working with press; you know your game, we do not (yet). But meanwhile, we’re also juggling up to dozens of games, upcoming releases, sheduled content. The less time you give us, the less possibility there is for us to fit your game in with the rest. 

By giving reviewers a reasonable length of time they’ll not only be able to write a better review, but they’ll be able to work things into their schedule more easily. For example, I work a day job so if your game releases on Tuesday even if I have nothing to play but your game (this is never the case), the earliest you’re likely to see a video from me is the following weekend.

But Isn’t YouTube Different?

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YouTube’s “Not suitable for most advertisers”: How To Appeal Demonetized Videos

Has Youtube marked your seemingly squeaky-clean video as “Not suitable for most advertisers“? What’s that even mean? Well, here’s how to appeal your Demonetized YouTube videos and how to best avoid getting them flagged in the first place.

If you’re here, you’re probably already aware, but YouTube recently started flagging certain videos as “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers”. This process is entirely automatic and is a process run on all YouTube videos automatically akin to Content ID. Here I’ll share the best information I’ve found on how this process works and how to work with it.

Note that YouTube’s process for this is highly variable and opaque; I meant to publish this weeks ago but only recently am I confident that the methods outlined here actually seem to work. Expect variation in your specific circumstances.

Tap Into YouTube is a series of articles from the perspective of a gaming YouTuber, covering both the use of YouTube and how to effectively work with YouTubers to promote your game.

What Does “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers” Mean?

When you get the yellow dollar sign symbol a video is “demonetized” or in youtube’s vernacular “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers”. Despite some conspiracy theories this does not mean YouTube is “skimming” your ad money; when demonetizing videos no ads are shown, meaning YouTube gets no ad money either. YouTube gets no inherent benefit from a demonetized video.

Despite the “limited or no” advertising, as far as I can tell no or effectively no advertisers actually put videos on “unsuitable” videos. You should consider a flagged video effectively demonetized entirely. It’s possible this will change in the future if advertisers choose to opt in to this class of video.

Find Demonetized Videos

If you had a backlog of videos before the “Not suitable for most advertisers” stuff started, you might have videos demonetized without knowing. There is a search filter you can use to find them immediately; this is where you’ll want to start your quest to re-monetize as many as you can. 

However, I’ve noticed that in some rare cases videos (unlisted ones in my case) did not show in that search filter, and recently re-monetized videos may still show in that view until monetization is turned off then back on for that video.

Demonetized Youtube Videos
The infamous Yellow Dollar Sign icon is the telltale sign you’ve been Demonetized

How To Get a Video Re-Monetized

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Comparing Review Key Distribution Sites for Youtubers

So you’re a Youtuber, or maybe a Streamer. Maybe you have a website. Or maybe you’re whatever the hell we call a ‘Content Creator’. And if you’re one of those game-talker-abouter-things, whatever you choose to call them, you’re probably going to want review access to games. Steam keys, PSN codes, itch.io download links, whatever works.

Corrections: 2017-04-07 – It turns out Terminals does now have the coverage-checking feature I initially found it lacking.

Fortunately in the last couple years, a number of services have popped up to make this easier than manually dredging through the internet looking for contact details, searching PR databases, and waiting breathlessly for replies (please breathe; email is not a consistent delivery mechanism).

The main ones that I have found and use are Keymailer, Terminals.io, and Distribute(), and here I’m going to explain and compare all of them. Note I’m talking explicitly from the content creator side of things here, I don’t have the developer-side experience to comment significantly on the other side of things.

As a note, all services mentioned in this article are in Alpha/Beta. This whole developer <-> content creator thing is so new that even the world “content creator” is controversial at best, and more importantly all of these sites (and all of the developers, and all of the PR people, and all of us content creators) are still working out the kinks here.

All these services have had multiple issues I’ve watched get fixed over the last year, and all of them still have some growing to do. Most started out only supporting Steam keys but now all include the most popular consoles, for example. But are they worth using? Let’s find out.

Tap Into YouTube is a series of articles from the perspective of a gaming YouTuber, covering both the use of YouTube and how to effectively work with YouTubers to promote your game.

Continue reading “Comparing Review Key Distribution Sites for Youtubers”