A prank at the expense of musician Justin Bieber has sparked concern regarding the procedures used to remove copyrighted material from YouTube and other sites with high percentages of user generated content.
Using the name iLCreation, an unknown person submitted a copyright claim on each of Bieber’s videos that were available on YouTube. Following its standard procedures, YouTube pulled down the artist’s entire Vevo channel without requiring any form of verification that the claimant had the right to request the take-down. Some of Lady Gaga’s videos were affected as well, as were videos by Rihanna, Bruno Mars, and a few other artists who performed on the 2011 Video Music Awards held Sunday.
Vevo initially posted a statement that explained, “Someone is making false copyright claims against the Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga channels and YouTube has blocked access to the videos as a result. We are working with YouTube to resolve ASAP.” The videos could still be seen on Vevo’s own site and app. Later it issued a formal statement that read, “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.”
All of the affected videos were restored within a couple of hours, and it is unknown how much revenue Bieber (pictured), Vevo, Island Records or other stakeholders may have lost due to the bogus claims.
YouTube uses several automated systems for removing unauthorized content, including ContentID, but copyright owners also can submit individual claims using an online form. YouTube’s parent Google warns that false notifications are themselves a criminal act, but that obviously was no deterrent to the person or people behind iLCreation.
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Photo of Justin Bieber courtesy of Island Def Jam Music Group