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Screen grab of TheFatRat's video on YouTube
Screen grab of TheFatRat's video on YouTube

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Anyone can claim copyright to your videos - and YouTube stands by and watches

Apparently you can. A YouTuber named TheFatRat has revealed a flaw in YouTube's copyright system which leaves Creators exposed to unscrupulous users who can claim copyright to videos that do not belong to them.

TheFatRat, real name Christian Buettner, is a music producer who released the video for his song, The Calling, in 2016. He said it has been popular on YouTube with over 54 million views, with about an addition of 100,000 new views a day. But he received a copyright claim on the video in November by a user called Ramjets. Which meant the revenue from the video of The Calling would start going into Ramjets' pockets instead of Buettner's, unless Buettner did something about it.

Buettner put in a dispute to the claim, but he was told by YouTube that his dispute was not approved by the same user, Ramjets. The copyright claimant gets to review the dispute, which does not make much sense.

After getting in touch with a person at YouTube, Buettner is told that YouTube does not mediate copyright disputes. Buettner was given an email address, but did not get an answer. He later found out that Ramjets has almost no social media presence and no videos on his YouTube account. YouTube told Buettner that he had to resolve the issue with the claimant, Ramjets. But he could not reach Ramjets.

It turns out that Ramjets had claimed the video due to a bootleg of the song created by artist Andres Galvis, who admitted to Buettner that he did not know Ramjets and went on to verify the issue with YouTube.

Buettner is not bothered by the difficulties he has faced in this fake copyright claim. "I am very positive that I will sort this out. I have fantastic lawyers in Los Angeles who are specialized in copyright protection and media law….so I am very confident about this," he said.

He has set up a petition to ask YouTube to stop assuming that copyright claims are automatically correct. Buettner said in the petition that Ramjets is earning up to US$3,000 a month in ad revenue that does not belong to him. Over 100,000 people have signed the petition.

While YouTube seems to prefer to have a hands-off approach so it does not have to mediate copyright claims, it is also not willing to create a system that requires claimants to prove infringement on their copyrights. Also, there is no punishment for abuse of the YouTube copyright claim system. This has led to abuse of the system and real Creators by unscrupulous users. There are a number of complaints by Creators on YouTube here, here and here.

Do you think YouTube has a copyright claim problem? Let us know below or comment at our Facebook page.

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Mark Laudi

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