Thursday, January 9, 2014

Profiting from Copyright Infringement

The never-ending battle continues.

I have just filed four notices of copyright infringement with Youtube. The first notice has already resulted in the taking down of a copy of one of my plein air painting videos that had been uploaded to another account.

(UPDATE: Seven videos from three near-identical accounts. All copies now removed. UPDATE Jan 29: It appears the offending channels have been deleted.)

Yesterday afternoon I was showing a friend some of my videos on Youtube but I noticed that infringing copies on two other channels were often the first ones to come up in the Youtube search results. This is, to put it mildly, annoying.

Taking a look at the two offending channels, each of which contains over 200 videos, it was soon clear to me that these were not fans celebrating the work of their favourite artists. Their content includes all types of "paint" from watercolour to house paint and the "About" information consists of nothing more than long lists of paint-related key words.

It appears to me that the channels in question are monetised, which means they receive payment every time a video on their channel is viewed. I suspect the channels are there solely to attract viewers, presumably to profit from views, and that the account holder has little interest in the material reproduced on the site.

When someone steals your content, they also steal your viewers. If your own channel is is monetised, then the copyright offender is also stealing your money.

Most importantly, perhaps, is that the original author misses out on interacting with viewers. Comments and questions asked on copyright-offending channels usually go unanswered as the channel owner is unlikely to care or even be in a position to answer questions. Likes and dislikes are important ways for an author to gauge viewer interest and guide future projects, but they do not get this information if the content is viewed and rated elsewhere.

If you find interesting-looking videos on Youtube, check who has posted it and, if they don't appear to be the author, take a look around Youtube and see if you can find the person who owns that video content. Then view the videos on the authors' Youtube sites instead.

How to lodge a Copyright Complaint on Youtube:

If you are an author who feels their video copyright has been infringed, lodge a complaint with Youtube.

Click on the flag symbol under the offending video and a list of options will appear. Choose "Infringes my rights" then choose "Infringes my copyright" from the next list to appear. Press submit.

From the next window, choose the option to submit a copyright complaint and another browser window/tab will open up where you can fill out all the relevant information including the web address of the offending videos and the address of your original. You can include multiple complaints on one form by choosing "Add another video".

Copyright complaints are legal claims to ownership and there can be penalties for lodging false claims, so you will also have to fill out some personal details plus make a declaration that you own the content and are making the complaint in good faith. Hit the submit button and you will receive emails from Youtube advising you of the status of the complaint. Hopefully the offending video will be removed within 24 hours.

If enough complaints are received, I understand Youtube is likely to delete an entire channel. If a channel exists only to profit from other people's work, without credit or agreement, then this would be a good outcome.


  1. you may want to update your copyright notice to include video too, unless you consider image to cover it

  2. Thanks. I'll add it but copyright always applies by default in the absence of express permission to breach it.