YouTube Gaming is less than a day old and it’s already pissed everyone off.
We already suggested copyright would be a sticking point in our post announcing YouTube’s long-awaited gaming platform, and it seems our prediction has come true. Users have already started taking to Twitter to complain about the YouTube’s Content ID system unfairly terminating their live-streams.
“Had 2 content ID’s on In game music from my Gears stream on Youtube. No monetisation and blocked in certain countries,” JackFrags, a professional gamer with over 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube and 120k followers on Twitch, tweeted after his live stream was cut off.
Content ID is YouTube’s automated copyright enforcement system that scans all content uploaded (or streamed) to YouTube for any copyrighted music, movies, tv shows, and other content.
If YouTube’s Content ID system flags a live-stream, it will initially give the streamer a warning and mute the stream’s audio. If it continues to detect copyrighted content after 10 minutes it will terminate the stream before, sometimes, giving the streamer a copyright strike on their account, which will adversely affect how they can use YouTube in the future. And that’s exactly what happened to JackFrags.
After being threatened with numerous copyright lawsuits collectively worth almost a trillion dollars, YouTube invested tens of millions into the development of their Content ID system, which attempts to match content uploaded to YouTube with content owned by large corporations so they can control whether (and how) their content is distributed on YouTube.
Contrary to popular belief the system actually works fairly well, and after years of tweaking (and pain) it now has an error rate of less than 1%. However, many games contain music and sound effects that some copyright holders are restricting through YouTube’s Content ID system. Creators that upload gaming videos can get around this with creative editing or by appealing the Content ID match, but live streamers have no such option.
This effectively makes it impossible to stream any game that includes an in-game soundtrack on YouTube’s Gaming platform, rendering it pretty much useless for many games. And it seems YouTube knew that. In an informational email sent to live streamers, the service linked to one of their help pages that explained:
Please understand that a Content ID claim may interrupt your live broadcast even if you licensed the third-party content in question, or even if you restricted your broadcast to a territory in which you own all the necessary rights.
However, YouTube isn’t the only service with automated copyright scanning.
Twitch also scans content for copyrighted material and will mute the audio on archived recordings of streams if they find that it contains copyrighted content. However, they also adopted the common sense approach of excluding live content from that system. That fact alone makes Twitch a much more comfortable place for streamers than YouTube, where they could be hit by a claim by any number of the thousands of Content ID partners at any moment during their stream.
If it’s any consolation for gamers, many large publishers including Valve and Blizzard, have committed to leaving all of their content out of Content ID; which should make popular games like League of Legends and Hearthstone fair game of YouTube Gaming. But games like GTA5, which a radio full of copyrighted songs, and Metal Gear Solid 5, with a publisher (Konami) that’s desperate to grab revenue wherever they can, would likely have to stay off-limits.