This is Paul Davids.
Paul Davids plays guitar. A lot of guitar, for a lot of viewers. This video, of him playing “25 badass guitar riffs,” has 7.9 million views.
And because he plays popular guitar riffs, he’s no stranger to YouTube’s, an automated tool that threatens to remove videos that include someone else’s copyrighted tunes. (Creators can appeal for a variety of reasons.)
But last month, Davids says he got a rather unusual email from YouTube. The Content ID system had flagged a tune he wrote himself, two years ago, for infringing on someone’s else’s newer video. Someone who, it seems, stole his backing track to create a new track of his own.
Listen for yourself:
“Someone took my track, made their own track, uploaded it to Spotify, YouTube, whatever, and I get a copyright infringement notice? Wait, what?” said Davids.
The story has a happy ending — Davids used YouTube’s appeals system to quickly work things out, and let the other artist keep on using his tune. (Davids tracked him down on Facebook Messenger, and the guy apparently admitted he’d downloaded ‘a couple of guitar licks’ on YouTube.)
But it’s weird to think YouTube would flag an old video for infringing on a new one, no?
When I reached out to YouTube, a spokesperson provided us with the following statement:
YouTube’s Content ID system allows rights holders a way to claim content at scale by finding matches to content they submit to us and giving them an automated way to identify, block, and even make money from uploads of their content. We rely on copyright holders to only claim the content they truly own. The accuracy of our matching systems can only ever be as good as the accuracy of what copyright holders submit. We have review teams that work to catch and prevent inaccurate claims, take action against copyright holders who knowingly or repeatedly cause errors, and we offer a robust dispute process for users who believe their video was claimed in error.
That doesn’t really answer my question. But it sounds like YouTube’s stance is that the Content ID system is automated and relies on creators to do the right thing — which it seems they did, here.
The BBC was the first to report this story.