Copyright Trolls on YouTube

Written by Adithya Vikram Sakthivel

With the advancements in the field of multimedia and information technology, thanks to the internet revolution of the 21st century, there is a record number of individuals employed in this sector along with supporting industries. One such platform created due to this development is the video-sharing platform, YouTube. This website now provide a reliable source of income to it’s vast community of content creators. These talented individuals generate an unimaginable amount of copyrightable material, however, it has resulted in the rise of those who prey on these content creators.

Typically, when there is innovation, law and ethics are chasing after this innovative development, as legal proceeding are long complicated processes, hence, with the current framework it’s accepted that law can never move as fast as technology. YouTube is one such example as their existing user framework has several ethical and legal loopholes, not to mention the monumental task of policing all the content they host, especially identification of copyright infringements. To make it easier on the existing system, YouTube is highly dependent on the community to identify and report any suspected cases of intellectual property infringement. This “self-policing” model has led to the creation of self-titled “copyright-watchdog” firms, or “copyright trolls” as they’re derogatorily referred to in the legal community.

These firms usually utilize automated algorithms and other tools to identify cases of copyright infringement on platforms like YouTube on behalf of their clients or their own collection of acquired copyrights. Due to the mechanical nature of these algorithms, this has led to several misidentifications, which could lead to financial repercussions for an innocent content creator (they can appeal this complaint, but it’s a relatively time consuming process), however, the copyright troll faces no form of punishment (leading to a lack of interest for accuracy from their end) implemented by YouTube.

Despite being a pioneer in this industry and providing huge career opportunities for many content creators, YouTube still has quite a few fixes to implement, especially with respect to the users who make this platform truly great. 

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