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YouTube has published its first Copyright Transparency Report, to explain more thoroughly how copyright enforcement works on the platform. The report works hard to emphasise the various tools and technologies that YouTube provides to creators in order to manage their copyrighted materials, and the support it gives them to manage copyrights and get paid.

Or, as YouTube puts it: “we’ve helped unlock a new creative economy that has paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies over the last three years, and more than $4 billion to the music industry since March 2020, over 30% of which has come from user-generated content.”

The report, which looks at data from the first half of 2021 and will be published biannually from now on, touts the platform’s successes: its automatic Copyright Match and Content ID tools, for instance, represent over 99% of all copyright actions: “722 million claims were made through Content ID in the first half of 2021 […] and over 1.6 million removal requests were made using the Copyright Match Tool in the first half of 2021.”

It also claims that 1% of all Content ID claims were disputed, and when they were, over 60% were resolved in favour of the uploader.

(It’s worth noting that not everyone is enamoured with this system: for instance, musician and artist rights campaigner David Lowery used some choice language when describing smaller artists’ ability to properly challenge certain YouTube copyright infringement claims.)

Music is vital to YouTube, making up 25% of its global watch time, and it’s that “$4 billion to the music industry since March 2020” part is where all of this technology impacts the music industry in a fundamental sense. That $4bn figure includes royalties from premium subscriptions, but it’s unclear how much is paid subscriptions and how much is a result of copyright matching technologies.

For YouTube, 2021 has been a good year with regards to music: reports claimed that YouTube Music was the fastest growing music DSP, and YouTube’s music boss Lyor Cohen felt confident enough to state that YouTube “will provide more revenue to the music industry by 2025 than anyone else.”

In the UK, the parliamentary inquiry looms large over all of music streaming, with the inquiry’s findings suggesting the music streaming economy needs a ‘complete reset’, and as things start to get heated (the government has promised to “put feet to the fire and ask some hard questions”), it’s worth remembering that BPI boss Geoff Taylor expressed scepticism about YouTube’s potential to become the industry’s biggest partner.

That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, of course, but key to YouTube supplying more money to rightholders is YouTube Music Premium continuing to attract more paying subscribers – which Midia pegged at just under 39 millionas of Q1 this year.

Music Ally’s next Learn Live webinar will help you understand what’s required for artists to thrive in new international markets!

Joe Sparrow

Joe SparrowEditor

Editor, Music Ally

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