YouTube has finally made some long overdue changes to its controversial copyright striking system but are they for the best? YouTube creators or “YouTubers” have been very vocal and concerned about the direction the platform has been going. Videos being taken down without warning, entire channels being de-monetized, and people’s livelihoods at stake. YouTube has been in a tenuous place for a while now regarding copyright, but the new system takes a step in the right direction.

Before I dive into the new system it is important to understand how the old system worked. Under the old system, a copyright owner would flag a video that included infringing content. Once the video was flagged it would either be taken down or de-monetized so the YouTuber was no longer making any ad revenue from it. The copyright owner would not have to specify what part of the video was infringing or what copyright was being infringed. It was up to the video’s creator to pour through the video and find the infringing content. Often, this was merely a guessing game as the YouTuber would have no idea what content was infringing. Once the YouTuber muted or cut the portion of the video they believed was infringing, it would get posted back to the owner for review. It would often take weeks for the copyright owner to review the video and there was no guarantee the YouTuber even solved the problem. The system was ripe with abuse and YouTubers had little to no avenue of solving the problem quickly. It would result in a video sometimes being down for months as the YouTuber made repeated guesses at what exactly in the video was infringing.

The new system takes a big step forward in solving this problem. Under the new system, a copyright owner can still flag a video. however, the owner must timestamp the specific part of the video that contains their copyright. Only after the owner timestamps the video does it get taken down or de-monetized. After that, the YouTuber can mute or remove the copyrighted material and send it to the owner for review. The guessing game has been removed from the process and it should allow for YouTubers to get their videos back much more quickly. In fact, YouTube now allows a YouTuber to mute or replace the timestamped portion of the video with a selection of music owned by YouTube, and immediately reupload or re-monetize the video without having to get the copyright owners approval. This will allow YouTubers to more quickly get the ad revenue from their videos and avoid any gaps in payment that might have occurred under the old system. It takes a long, painful process and turns it into a more streamlined system.

This new system in no way solves all of the problems YouTube has with copyright. It does not address the rampant abuse of the Content ID system that allows a copyright owner to divert ad revenue away from the videos creator. And it can still have an effect on how long it takes a YouTuber to get paid for their video. However, it is a step in the right direction toward keeping YouTube a platform by which individuals can establish and make a living.

Special thanks to intern, Alexander Morrison, for contributing.