Over the past decade, the evolution of the Internet has altered the landscape for both traditional media companies and the doctrine of fair use, and the media industry has tried to keep up. The new ways that consumers create and distribute content are not a niche phenomenon. Hundreds of millions of people around the world now use the Web to connect and interact with content online, and a huge percentage of them go even further: they express themselves via parodies, celebrate their favorite videos with mashups, and use music in educational presentations. The people that upload these videos are typically the biggest fans, and are exactly the kinds of consumers rights holders should be embracing.

We listen closely to our partners and we're constantly improving our content identification and management tools ("Content ID") to make sure they have choices in dealing with these different uses of their content on YouTube. Over 1,000 content owners use Content ID, and we've built it in a way that lets them account for fair uses of their content: they can easily create policies depending on the proportion of a claimed video that contains their work, or the absolute length of the clip used. For example, a record label might decide to block videos that contain over one minute of a given song, but leave up videos that contain less than one minute.

Since Content ID can't identify context (like "educational use" or "parody"), we give partners the tools to use length and match proportion as a proxy. Of course, it's not a perfect system. That's why two videos -- one of a baby dancing to one minute of a pop song, and another using the exact same audio clip in a videotaped University lecture about copyright law -- might be treated identically by Content ID and taken down by the rights holder, even though one may be fair use and the other may not. Rights holders are the only ones in a position to know what is and is not an authorized use of their content, and we require them to enforce their policies in a manner that complies with the law.

Still, to make sure that users also have choices when dealing with the content they upload to YouTube, Content ID makes it easy for users to dispute inappropriate claims.
  • When you receive a notice in your account via Content ID, we tell you who claimed the content, and direct you to a form that lets you dispute the claim if you so choose.
  • If you believe your video is fair use, check the box that reads "This video uses copyrighted material in a manner that does not require approval of the copyright holder." If you're not sure if your video qualifies, you can learn more about fair use here.
  • Once you've filed your dispute, your video immediately goes back up on YouTube.
  • From this point, the claimant then makes a decision about whether to file a formal DMCA notification, and remove the content from the site according to the process set forth in the DMCA.
Content ID has helped create an entirely new economic model for rights holders. We are committed to supporting new forms of original creativity, protecting fair use, and providing a seamless user experience -- all while we help rights owners easily manage their content on YouTube.

Posted by Shenaz Zack, Product Manager

UPDATE: To clear up confusion, this is not a new feature. The dispute process has been in place since Content ID first launched in October 2007. We've changed some text to make that clear.