While we know that Google processes millions of DMCA takedown notices in Search every year, we haven’t got out hands on the official number of such regarding YouTube. But scooping through the open web data revealed that YouTube actually cashes on DMCA notices, where it allows the copyright holders to monetize against an infringing content and takes its own cut from it.

YouTube’s Content ID as a Weapon

YouTube has poured in over $100 million for creating its Content ID system and is allegedly earning more from it. The Google-owned video-sharing platform has millions of people earning from it, with most of the revenue streams being a mystery. Here’s a breakdown of one such mystery.

After verifying a takedown notice from a copyright holder, YouTube doesn’t take it down! Instead, it gives the copyright holders a chance to do with the infringing video. And the clever ones choose to monetize it! This is true, as YouTube itself admitted in a recent Senate hearing.

YouTube’s Global Director of Business Public Policy, Katherine Oyama, said “Rightsholders choose to monetize 90% of all Content ID claims, opening up a multitude of new revenue streams for themselves. In the music industry, rightsholders choose to monetize over 95% of Content ID claims.

This is a win-win situation for all. As the infringers earn popularity and money from uploading content, the successful copyright holders take their share from the uploader’s (infringer) revenue, and YouTube takes its cut from this settlement. As per its support guidelines, YouTube offers the following options for the copyright owners when an alleged material matches their claim;

  • Block a whole video from being viewed
  • Monetize the video by running ads against it, sometimes sharing revenue with the uploader.
  • Track the video’s viewership statistics

This method is lucrative for YouTube, which has no risk in the settlement. While it didn’t mention how many takedowns notices it processes every year, it at least mentioned that it shared over $5.5 billion (in 2017) with copyright holders for their claims made. This, in turn, reflects how much money YouTube has made for itself, just by settlement between copyright holders and the infringers.


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