Doing the job, but not a very good job
When people talk about effective ways to mitigate the impact of online piracy, YouTube’s Content ID is often used as an example of what works. Unfortunately, despite its role as poster boy for anti-piracy tech, in reality it falls flat as a gatekeeper against online piracy.
Aside from a labyrinth-like user interface that seems likely to have been designed–not to help– but to discourage rights holders from using Content ID, the actual fingerprinting technology behind it can be easily fooled.
Videos uploaded to YouTube are scanned against a database of files that have been submitted to us by content owners. Copyright owners get to decide what happens when content in a video on YouTube matches a work they own. When this happens, the video gets a Content ID claim.
Looking to make money off work they don’t own, clever YouTube users have discovered ways to fool the technology so their illegal uploads of copyrighted movies and music don’t get flagged, blocked or removed.
I began noticing this phenomenon more lately as I’ve begun to find full, infringing copies of films uploaded that matched content owned by a film distributor I work for. This seems to be happening more often and I was curious as to how these pirated copies had avoided detected by Content ID. When I looked closely I saw that subtle manipulations in brightness had taken place along with slight adjustments to frame size and sometimes the crop of the frame.
When I started poking around YouTube to find other examples of these uploads they were easy to find. It only took me a few minutes to find dozens of copies of a variety of full copyrighted movies, old and new. One title I came across was the 2015 release, Everest. Below are screen captures from two different full uploads of the movie I found streaming on YouTube.Read More