YouTube, a Pirated Movie Haven

Ever had that moment when you�re trying to remember a particular part of a movie or a lyric in a song, and you leave it up to the Internet gods to help you find it? Google may be your best bet in refreshing your memory, but for those who prefer a bit more visual, you�d have to agree that YouTube is your best friend.


With millions of videos uploaded on the site, it�s almost impossible to keep all videos at bay before upload completion. Even with all its security systems and copyright regulations, a good percentage of the videos uploaded on the site still infringe most copyright laws. Interestingly, these videos don�t only defy copyrighted songs, music videos and personal clips, they go beyond that�way, way, way beyond that.

The online platform, known to most as a video haven, can also be seen as a sanctuary for pirated movies. Hundreds, if not thousands, of full length movies are available to stream on YouTube for the entire world to see. The big question, however, is why Google (who owns YouTube) allows this illegal process to succeed when it has always been a strong supporter of anti-piracy acts? Let�s take a closer look at what the site has to say.

What is Copyright?

According to YouTube, a copyright is automatically attributed to the person who created or originally owns the work. For a work to be eligible for copyright protection, it must be creative and in a tangible medium. This means that TV shows, music videos, musicals, songs and movies are held under this clause.

Why isn�t YouTube Putting Pirated Movies Down?

YouTube says they do not have the capacity to determine copyright ownership. The site, however, offers a Content ID feature which allows content owners to submit their content to the site�s database which will be used to scan all videos uploaded on the site. If the feature identifies a match, it will apply corresponding policies that will be chosen by the owner.

Notably though, the social media site stresses that it does not have the power to mediate between copyright ownership disputes. It can only take down or block a video if the owner sends a notice to the website.

Having said this, could it be that YouTube�s more lenient regulations on copyright infringement is a part of its online strategy to keep users glued to the service? A way to push customer retention by allowing them to post any video and let content owners do the dirty work? Seems like, although it�s hard to say.


YouTube seems to be washing its hands off this tricky issue. As much as it wants to keep its relationship with its partners on top, it also has to serve the needs of its target market�that is the video-uploading population. Actually, it is worth noting that YouTube�s move to reconcile both the market and its partners� (content owners like labels, production houses and networks) welfare is commendable. It was able to optimise what they have to benefit the content owners, the video up-loaders and YouTube itself.


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Peter Applebaum

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