The Internet is the widest distribution agent in the history of the world – content you create can be shared with hundreds of millions of people all over the globe in a relatively short time. While there is great benefit, there is also some risk – the Internet can be a daunting place for new and veteran content creators alike.


Somewhere in those hundreds of millions of viewers, there are likely to be a few pirates and bootleggers that want to copy your hard work and profit from it. Upwards of 400,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day (there are only 8760 hours in a year); no number of humans can process that amount of footage and properly flag copyright violations.


Since the advent of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), media platforms like YouTube have developed specialized computer programs that are able to scan through the massive amounts of data the platform receives, and compare it against a database of copyrighted content. If it finds any matches, it flags them and notifies the content creator that someone may be infringing. The system then gives the content creators different options on how to proceed, and the creator may be able to specify certain actions in each region or country where the content is available. For instance, a creator may choose to block the video in the U.S., but allow it in Australia, and so on. For musicians, the system can scan both music tracks and videos that contain music and match them to copyrighted material, then notify the artist. Some services, including YouTube, also give the creator the option to allow infringing material to stay online, but to run ads on the content that benefit the original creator – not the copier. This technology is becoming very sophisticated; YouTube’s system, ContentID, is almost entirely automated and has become surprisingly accurate.


These specialized programs, or bots, help to augment your ability to police your own content. The DMCA also requires media platforms to have a notice-and-takedown system in place so that if you find content that has been stolen or improperly copied from you, you can send a notification to the platform yourself. There are various forms of “report this content” or “flag this content” buttons and systems depending on which platform you are on.


No computer program is perfect, of course, and one major problem with programs such as ContentID is that they can sometimes flag videos that would have otherwise been fair use, such as educational videos about music -The Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association was flagged for their Youtube lectures on the history of bluegrass. But as mentioned, the sheer volume of video and music data that is being channeled through the Internet makes it impossible to try policing your content the old-fashioned way. These bots and services can give you an even greater control over your content, ultimately leaving the choice up to you whether you want to fight piracy by removing or restricting infringing videos, or by cashing in on ad revenue.

Whatever you decide to do, using the various bots and services available for the different media platforms will become an absolute necessity for anyone trying to protect their valuable intellectual property.


Written By: Kimberlina N. McKinney, Esq.
Contributions and Research By: Mary Zaghikian and Valerie Sparks