Illustration by Max Fleishman

YouTube says it’s paid $2 billion to rights holders under DMCA Content ID system

Google outlines its piracy fight in new report.


Rae Votta


Posted on Jul 13, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 11:19 am CDT

YouTube is ready to put its money where its content is, showing the music industry just how much its been paying to rights holders in a new report. 

In Google’s newly released “How Google Fights Piracy” report, the company says it has paid out $2 billion to copyright holders since the launch of Content ID. That’s double the amount announced in 2014. 

The music industry has taken volleys at YouTube in recent months, with big names like Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney calling out the DMCA for reform, and the international trade group for record labels complaining of a “value gap” between creators and consumers using digital technology.

The battle over ContentID is more than just YouTube versus the music industry, however. 

For YouTube-based creators, the Content ID and strike system for potentially offending content has prompted action by digital creators who say abuse of the system hobbles their ability to make a living under the fair use doctrine. In response to the problem of takedown notices curtailing ad revenue for creators, YouTube updated its rules to place revenue into a third-party holding account during a dispute. 

Google’s recent report puts hard numbers against the issues, explaining that Content ID claims make up 98 percent of copyright claims, with only 2 percent coming in manually. The company also notes that 95 percent of copyright claims by the music industry result in the video being left up and monetized, instead of taken down. The report claims half of the music industry revenue on YouTube comes from user-generated uploads like covers, remixes, and dance numbers. 

With calls for reform to 1998’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act on all fronts, Google’s report and blog posts aim to educate on what’s been done so far to meet legal requirements and compensate artists. Now it’s up to those who are listening to share what they want in its place.

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*First Published: Jul 13, 2016, 3:58 pm CDT