It is no secret that many serious YouTube content creators are often frustrated with YouTube and how its Content ID system works. More often than not, completely legitimate videos are taken down over false DMCA claims and it can really mess with a channel and its standing on YouTube.
One YouTuber appears to have had enough and is now attempting to take on Google, among others, over the Content ID system. In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court in Rhode Island, Benjamin Ligeri has listed Google, Viacom, Lionsgate and even another YouTuber as defendants in the lawsuit, complaining about how unfairly copyright concerns are handled by the current YouTube system.
Ligeri has been uploading to YouTube channel, BetterStream, for some time now but has not amassed much of an audience with just over 300 subscribers. He claims that his channel has come under fire from YouTube’s copyright system a few times even though Ligeri claims that his content is intended for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and/or research” purposes.
One of the complaints detailed in the lawsuit takes fellow YouTuber, Egeda Pirateria, to task for a copyright claim on a parody video, making fun of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: “Defendant Pirateria is not the rightful owner of the rights to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, nor did the Plaintiff’s critique of it amount to copying or distribution of the movie”.
The main issue seems to stem from a copyright strike tied to the BetterStreams account, which YouTube refused to remove following an appeal: “YouTube, although Defendants Pirateria or Lion’s Gate lacked any legal claim to any copyright to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, denied the Plaintiff’s appeal pertaining to his account’s copyright strike”.
Viacom was dragged in to the lawsuit due to a DMCA claim on a video supposedly critiquing the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot movie. Ligeri describes Content ID as an “opaque and proprietary system where the accuser can serve as the judge, jury and executioner”.
While some of Ligeri’s claims may be true and many content creators would probably agree that the Content ID system is notoriously unfair, there is no skirting around the fact that his most popular YouTube video shows an entire Hunger Games movie, albeit with commentary placed over the top. Due to this, it is hard to believe that a court is going to take the plaintiff’s side in this case.
Ligeri wants what all lawsuit instigators want- a payout. He is seeking $1 million in ‘special damages’, an additional $10,000 for nominal damage and an unspecified additional amount for punitive damages and legal fees.
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KitGuru Says: Considering that this lawsuit is coming from a non-established channel, with an entire film uploaded to it, it is hard to take any of it seriously. That said, he does raise some good points, there is a lot genuinely wrong with the way YouTube handles copyright and the Content ID system as a whole. I’m not sure this lawsuit is going to help matters much, although it may raise awareness of the issue.