Congress Seeks Greater Copyright Protection for YouTube Videos

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking the tech giant to expand copyright infringement protections to a greater number of content creators.

The letter, spearheaded by Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), co-chairs on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, addresses “YouTube Content ID,” Google’s copyright infringement software aimed at preventing illegal uploading of movies, music and other copyrighted content on YouTube.

Other signees of the Sept. 4 inquiry include Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) ranking member of the committee, as well as Democratic ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

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Launched in 2007, Content ID informs content holders when their copyright protected material is uploaded to YouTube. Content holders are then given the ability to block access to the video or recoup any ad revenue generated by the infringed content.

Specifically, the letter questions the parameters of Content ID and why it isn’t applied to smaller content holders.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), whose constituents include music artists in Nashville, said limiting the use of Content ID to larger players such as movie studios and record labels “hinders copyright holders with smaller catalogues from reaping the benefits of its actions.”

“Talented creators, including Nashville’s song-writing community, are disproportionately at risk of infringement,” Blackburn wrote in the letter.

While anyone can bow video content on YouTube, Google doesn’t begin to monetize content without a minimum number of users, or “subscribers” who click to join the channel.

The letter alleges that certain copyright holders have been denied access to Content ID and at a “significant disadvantage” to prevent the repeated uploading of content previously identified as infringing.

“They are left with the choice of spending hours each week seeking out and sending notices about the same copyrighted works, or allowing their intellectual property to be misappropriated,” read the letter.

Google, per its website, says Content ID is applied to content holders with “a substantial body of original material that is frequently uploaded.”

Congress contends copyright industries in the United States provide more than 5.7 million jobs and generate $1.3 trillion toward the country’s gross domestic product, accounting for 6.85% of the U.S. economy.

“Does Google plan to provide access to Content ID to a larger number of rights holders? If so, when? If not, what challenges prevent you from doing so?” read the letter.

The lawmakers asked Pichai to respond by Oct. 31, with a planned roundtable with Google representatives to address the issues to occur before the end of the year.

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