There’s been much written about the manifold issues facing YouTube as it comes to copyright complaints — not only the inevitable problem of copyright violation but the manner in which the tools offered to try and address the problem are weaponized by bad-faith actors or overzealous entities in an attempt to simply remove videos and creators from the site, regardless of the merit or severity of the alleged violation. Users compiling enough strikes for copyright violation, as reported by other users, faced the possibility of having their account suspended, and even in cases where the complaint was proven unwarranted, there was still the time and hassle of having to deal with the complaint. It was an outcome as concerning as it was predictable, seemingly another case where tech companies shunting off responsibilities to users simply created a new problem while not fully addressing the old one.
Perhaps we were underestimating YouTube, at least in this one instance, because they have introduced a somewhat elegant solution to the problem, even if the finer points still need to be worked out. According to The Verge, YouTube in introducing an “Assisted Trim” feature that allows creators to simply cut out the offending material from their video in order to resolve the claim against it. According to the same article, the feature doesn’t yet allow for manual adjustments that would make for perhaps more cohesive and logical cuts, but that remains in the works.
The move is part of an effort towards greater transparency in copyright claims and strikes for the online video giant, something that was clearly needed given how easily and effectively both trolls and music publishers were able to work previous versions of the system to get videos taken down. Complaints now require a time code of the offending section of the video, and creators can see more easily both the complains against them and the strikes on their account through their creator dashboard.
The additions and changes seem to be positive steps in the right direction for YouTube and its creators, but of course it remains to be seen how they operate in practice. Finding the right level of oversight has proven to be the bugaboo of tech platforms generally, with most opting to do too little rather than too much, seeking to avoid any sort of culpability or blame in the name of techno-libertarianism. Copyright is but one issue in the constellation of problems we’re confronting in the digital age, but it’s at least somewhat heartening to see steps in the right direction from one of the major companies of the day.