Fighting piracy on Google

Fighting YouTube and Google Piracy

Someone holding up a smart phone with YouTube loading on the screen

Being one of the most powerful IT companies globally, Google equates to the internet itself. Given the ubiquitous nature of its products and services, Google reaches a mind-boggling audience across the globe, leading the market of internet search, cloud storage, and video hosting services.

Acquired by Google in 2006, YouTube underwent an amazing path from a funny video sharing platform to the major source of entertainment that outcompetes any other video-on-demand service by a number of monthly users, including Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu.

With great power comes great responsibility. The problem of large-scale internet piracy on YouTube became critical once a content monetization feature was introduced. To solve it, the tech giant has invested heavily in the development of technologies and policies to arm rights holders with effective tools to protect their copyright against piracy in the Google ecosystem. Let’s review these tools.

Youtube Copyright Management Tools

Designed to fight YouTube piracy, there are currently available:

  • The Сopyright Сomplaint Webform. It’s an easy tool to issue copyright complaints, available for any rights holder or its legal representative who detected illegal copies of their content on YouTube. 
  • The Content Verification Program (CVP) enables copyright owners to remove pirated videos immediately upon detection. The tool is granted to the rights holders and content protection companies with a proven track record of massive submission of valid take-down notices. WebKontrol is a proud member of this program.
  • The Content ID system automatically matches the file database provided by copyright owners against all videos uploaded on YouTube.

The Content ID

Over 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. To identify copyright violations and piracy inside such a volume of data, Google launched Content ID, a copyright management tool for rights holders to automatically identify and leverage videos uploaded without authorization. The tool is based on digital fingerprinting technology and is available to the owners of exclusive rights only.

This is how Content ID works: copyright owners provide a system with reference files and metadata describing video content, and specify policy to be applied when Content ID finds an appropriate match with content fingerprints.

Policies or actions between which right holders can choose:

  • Monetize pirated videos;
  • Track statistics allowing users to view content without advertisements;
  • Block content.

Over 98% of all copyright issues on YouTube are processed via YouTube’s digital fingerprinting system. However, a significant number of copyright infringements remain overlooked by the Content ID given the system loopholes widely used by the pirates.

How Do Pirates Bypass YouTube Content ID?

There are several tricks YouTube piracy uses to make illegal content untrackable:

  • Upload of distorted copies. Most common distortions include mirroring, framing, pixelization, reversing, splitting and mixing video parts.
  • Upload of ‘unlisted’ or ‘private’ infringing videos. Such videos get embedded into pirate sites that use YouTube video player. Thus, these videos are not indexed by YouTube and so not shown in search results while being available via a direct link and traceable via third-party sites.

Content Delistings on Google

What makes Google piracy a severe problem is the fact that Google enables effective search for pirated content on any site on the internet. With impressive search market penetration globally: 92,58% in Brazil, 95,47% in India, 91,7% in Italy, and so on as of October 2020, Google stands as a departure point for most pirate sites on the web.

The bright side of this is that Google delists infringing links from search results upon receiving DMCA takedown notices. The visibility of pirated content in Google search results can be maintained at zero levels for any type of unauthorized content. This can have an astonishing impact on users’ behavior towards illegal content consumption. After all, to many, if something cannot be found on Google, it doesn’t exist at all.

Google Drive Piracy Explained

Apart from YouTube piracy and illegal distribution of content via the world's biggest search engine, Google cloud storage is another battlefield for right holders trying to stop massive copyright violations. Google Drive attracts over 2.9 billion monthly visits and is often used for unauthorized sharing of digital books, copies of magazines, and media. Given Google Drive is a cyberlocker, pirated content can be accessed via a direct link only. Effective prevention of Google Drive piracy from spreading requires constant scanning of social media, streaming sites, and forums used for publications of direct infringing links.

Would you like to know more about Google piracy and regaining control of your digital assets?

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