YouTube's latest copyright controversy was elicited this week not by a corporation but by someone calling himself -- or herself -- iLCreation, rumored by some (but, as if often the case with the internet, verified by none) to be a 13-year-old Pakistani. On Monday, music videos for artists including Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Shakira and others were temporarily taken down by YouTube after iLCreation flagged the artists' VEVO channels with copyright claims. But how did one YouTuber successfully remove such huge clips that already had hundreds of millions of views?
A YouTube spokesperson declined to comment, saying the company doesn't comment on individual video claims, but an executive familiar with the situation told Ad Age that iLCreation's YouTube account had been granted official YouTube Partner status, thus enabling the user to make the copyright claim. Once the claim had been flagged, YouTube automatically removed the clips for review. Although the clips were quickly restored by Monday afternoon, Universal Music Group (which represents Bieber, Lady Gaga and Rihanna) and Sony (whose artist Shakira was also affected by the copyright claims) have yet to hear back personally from YouTube.
"How did he get his Partner status and was able to use that status to take down these videos?" an executive familiar with the discussions asked.
PC Magazine pointed out in a post on Monday that copyright complaints are sometimes filed manually on YouTube, but that YouTube has several other procedures through which it decides to remove content. An automated service called ContentID, for example, "requires a Hollywood studio or other content provider to submit a reference file, an electronic ID of a particular movie, song, or other copyrighted work. YouTube uses this file and matches it against either a file that 's on the site or a file that 's attempted to be uploaded; in the latter case, that movie or song will be blocked from being uploaded. Some pirated films do appear on YouTube, especially if those content providers don't submit their reference files," PC's Mark Hachman writes.
But another music industry source was less concerned about the matter. "I think this is a weird one-off situation. The impression I've received is that this is not part of a larger major problem."
VEVO, for its part, said in a statement: "A few videos by Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga were briefly taken down by YouTube as a result of false copyright claims. This issue has been resolved. Fans can always find videos from Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and all their favorite artists on VEVO.com and VEVO's mobile apps, where YouTube copyright claims never take down videos."
iLCreation's YouTube account has since been terminated, "due to repeated or severe violations of our Terms of Service," as his channel's link now states.