Vol. LVII No. 5

Should YouTube’s Content ID Be Liable for Misrepresentation Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?

Abstract: YouTube has quickly become the dominant player in the Internet video sharing platform market. To keep its leading position, it created an internal automated system to police potential copyright infringements known as Content ID. Generally, that system functions similarly to third-party computer automated systems that send takedown requests, yet it is exempt from liability for removing lawful videos under a safe harbor provided by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (“DMCA”). Although some industry experts first championed Content ID, many now question whether it unfairly favors copyright holders and YouTube itself at the expense of content creators and the greater Internet community. This Note asserts that a Content ID match is equivalent to a formal takedown notice under the DMCA, and that Content ID should thus have to consider fair use prior to issuing a Content ID match. This Note then argues that the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions should be amended to require websites utilizing internal automated systems to consider fair use.

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