It's rare to read a post from YouTube regarding a new feature that doesn't mention the "your account needs to be in good standing" line these days. But what does that mean for the average user and what kind of punishment does YouTube impose if your account isn't in good standing? We take a look at the different types of penalty imposed if the "wrong" content is uploaded and what actions the different parties involved can take to resolve the issue. Welcome to the world of YouTube strikes.
Why Does It Matter If Your Account Is In Good Standing Or Not?
Well, if you want to monetize your videos, have access to all the features available to other users, set up a paid channel, avoid suspension or a ban and possible legal action by a third party, it matters a lot that you play by the rules as far as publishing content on YouTube goes. If the site likes you and you haven't been the subject of an unresolved penalty against your account then you'll have full access to the following features:
- Hangouts On Air
- Uploading videos as Unlisted
- Uploading videos that are longer than 15 minutes
- Uploading videos under Creative Commons licenses
- InVideo Programming
- Custom video thumbnails
- YouTube Live
If you are serious about your channel and your content then missing out on any of the above will be detrimental and will put you at a disadvantage against your peers. So what kind of behaviour can get you into trouble on YouTube? Let's take a look.
Community Strikes, Copyright Strikes, ContentID Matches
There are three types of YouTube penalties that uploaders can incur based on the content they decide to publish. We will go into details regarding all three but here are the basics:
* Community Guideline Strikes: Users of the site can flag an inappropriate video which YouTube will then review. This can cover racist, sexually explicit, abusive, offensive or plain spammy content.
* Copyright Strikes/DMCA Takedown Notices: A user who believes their work is being used by another can file a copyright claim against the uploader. Alleged copyright infringement claims are manual and the process needs to be initiated by the claimant.
* ContentID Matches: Content ID matches are automated. Creators can choose to upload their content to be matched against everything else that's published on YouTube. Videos that are "matched" by Content ID may be monetized, blocked or tracked and don’t always result in a copyright strike.
Community Strikes: Upload Offensive Content At Your Peril
As a site that is reliant on user generate content, guidelines are in place to ensure that really offensive material is contained and dealt with effectively. Other users of the site can notify YouTube by 'flagging' a video that offends or upsets them and the review team will take a look. Flagged videos stay on the site until they are reviewed. YouTube confirm that a manual assessment will take place and no amount of flagging will affect their decision before that review. You can report a video by clicking on the 'flag' symbol and selecting the reason for your complaint. Videos, comments and entire channels can be reported for being offensive or unsuitable.
YouTube made a short video for users that confirms the community guidelines. It's from 2008 so the stats are way out of date but the advice still stands:
To ensure fairness, a community strike can be appealed. The uploader will be notified by email that their video has been the subject of a complaint. Deleting the video will not remove the strike against the Youtube account if the complaint is upheld. Users need to file an appeal from within their 'Feature Settings' page.
Users can only submit a plea against each video strike once and if YouTube stand by the strike you can't appeal against future ones for 60 days. They also confirm the following courses of action if you violate the terms of service regarding content:
- First Strike: The first strike on your account is considered a warning.
- Second Strike: If you receive two strikes against your account within a six-month period, you will be prevented from posting any new content for two weeks.
- Third Strike: If you receive three strikes within 6 months, your account will be terminated.
Copyright Strikes: When Others Have A Claim On Content
Copyright strikes are often confused with Content ID matches but they are not really the same - particularly in the way that YouTube treats them. Where ContentID matches are fully automated, copyright infringement appeals have to be raised manually by the party who believes their licensed work has been used by a Youtuber, whether intentionally or unintentionally. If your video was blocked by a Copyright or DMCA notice it (usually) means that an actual person has looked at your content and decided that it needs investigating.
If a content owner sees a video which they believe infringes their copyright, they can file a notification with YouTube who then have to, by law, take that video down. The claimant submits a 'copyright removal form' that needs to include details of the video in question, and why they feel it is subject to copyright. YouTube will then remove that video content until the uploader decides to file a counter claim.
If you receive a copyright strike notification you can either wait six months for the strike to naturally expire, or you can approach the claimant to resolve the issue by asking them to retract their claim or you can submit a counter claim against the notification. If you do file a counter claim, the other party has 14 business days to notify YouTube that they intend to take legal action against you. If the claimant doesn't take this course of action, YouTube will restore the video. Here's a handy little guide from the site itself about copyright infringement:
As the other party, you have a couple of options. You can remove the video yourself (although this won't neccessarily remove the strike from your account) or if you feel you have been unjustly targeted by the ContentID system (and it wouldn't be the first time that has happened), you can submit a counter notification to YouTube to reinstate a video that you believe has been taken down in error or for "misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled, such as fair use". YouTubers have the right to appeal to up to three disputed Content ID matches. If an counter appeal is launched, the other party has to release their claim on the video unless they decide to go ahead with legal action.
As long as there is an active copyright strike against your account, you may lose some of the features available to be others such as the ability to upload videos longer than 15 minutes or post unlisted or Creative Commons licensed videos. Uploaders are only able to appeal against one copyright strike at a time and if the current claim is upheld, you won't be able to appeal against future ones for 60 days. Deleting the offending video will not resolve the strike and if you violate the terms of service regarding copyright material YouTube promise the following:
- First Strike: The first strike on your account is considered a warning.
- Three Strikes: If you receive three copyright strikes against your account it will be suspended and all videos removed. Users with suspended YouTube accounts will not be able to create a new one.
Content ID Matches: Always Searching
YouTube launched the Content ID system (CID) back in 2007 to track copyright infringements across the site particularly in regards to music and gaming content. Creators can upload their original files to the system, and if YouTube finds a match for one of these original "reference files" it will trigger a notification of copyright infringement. The CID can algorithmically detect any kind of material that has been enrolled in the system; video, audio, partial and between high and low quality. If a match has been found, YouTube will automatically apply the policy that the original owner stated when uploading their reference files. This could be:
- To block or mute the video
- To monetize the video with the ad revenue going to the original owner
- To ignore the video but to have the ability to track it via their YouTube analytics
The CID system will send an email to a user if it detects a content match and they will be able to see details of the match on any of their videos by signing in to their account and visiting the Copyright page in their Video Manager:
The Content ID system is automated so it's far from perfect. It's a neutral feature, not an automatic accusation of copyright infringement. It is programmed to recognize when material is being used, but not if that material is being used legally or illegally. The uploader can appeal against their match notification if they feel it is unjust or unfair or they can prove they have the authority to use the material contained within their video content. Once again, YouTube have provided a video which gives more details on the system:
A user's account will be considered 'Not in Good Standing' if the Content ID block is 'worldwide' (regional blocks do not generate this status).The account will return to good standing if the global block is removed. Invalid Content ID disputes can result in the removal of the video and a strike will be applied to your account.
Understand The Restrictions On Content And Play The Game
You can say what you like about YouTube and free speech but they have a Herculean task in balancing the rights of copyright owners against uploaders who believe that they are using their content fairly. The restrictions are in place for a reason - original content creators deserve the recognition they have worked so hard for, and other users of the site don't deserve to be subjected to offensive or disturbing content. As long as YouTube stays with its current model, we are going to have the same issues with copyright and decency infringements day after day. As ever, let's turn it over to the puppets to make sense of it all. Glove and Boots sum up the whole YouTube copyright issue in this highly entertaining video. Mario will be thrilled to answer any questions you may have.
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