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Pirate Monitor dismisses its lawsuit over YouTube’s Content ID

By | Published on Thursday 11 March 2021


The anti-piracy company Pirate Monitor has voluntarily dismissed its legal action against YouTube over who has access to the Google company’s Content ID rights management platform. However, the other plaintiff involved in the litigation, independent musician Maria Schneider, will proceed with the case.

Schneider and Pirate Monitor both sued YouTube in July last year arguing that, while YouTube’s Content ID may be a pretty decent rights management system, too few creators and rights-owners have access to it.

Anyone who doesn’t qualify for access – which includes most independent creators – must manually monitor the video site for unlicensed uses of their content and then manually issue takedown requests. And whereas Content ID is a sophisticated takedown system, they claimed, YouTube’s processes for dealing with manual takedowns are not fit for purpose.

Websites like YouTube are obliged to operate takedown systems of course, if they want to benefit from the copyright safe harbour and avoid liability for the infringing content swimming around their servers. By only offering Content ID access to the major players and operating a shoddy takedown system for everyone else, the argument went, YouTube should be deprived that all important safe harbour protection.

Needless to say, YouTube hit back at those allegations, arguing that independent creators like Schneider could access Content ID by allying with a music distributor. Which, in fact, she had done. Meanwhile, it added, Pirate Monitor was all the proof that was needed to demonstrate why YouTube is right to be careful about who has access to Content ID, a platform via which rights-holders can block and monetise other people’s videos.

Operators like Pirate Monitor, it said, definitely could not be trusted to use such powerful tools responsibly. Why? Because, YouTube alleged, Pirate Monitor had been uploading its own content to various YouTube channels it had anonymously set up, and then issuing takedowns against the very same channels. Its aim was to prove that it was a sufficiently prolific takedown issuer to warrant Content ID access.

However, YouTube argued, that meant that Pirate Monitor was either in breach of YouTube’s terms when it uploaded its content, by claiming it had the rights to do so, or it was knowingly issuing takedowns against content that was not, in fact, infringing, in breach of US safe harbour rules.

In a more recent filing, YouTube then made another round of allegations against Pirate Monitor. It wasn’t even a legitimate anti-piracy company, it argued. It was a shell company set up by film director Gábor Csupó in order to issue takedowns against and then sue YouTube. Possibly because he felt that what looked like an anti-piracy agency was more likely to be granted Content ID access than an individual film-maker, even a successful film-maker with his own animation company.

Either way, with the mounting allegations about the sneaky conduct of Csupó and Pirate Monitor, neither the director nor his company were very compelling champions for an independent creator community that reckons it should have the same Content ID access as major distributors and rights-owners.

So perhaps it’s unsurprising that a new legal filing with the courts on Monday states: “Pirate Monitor Ltd hereby dismisses this action with prejudice against defendants YouTube LLC and Google LLC. Voluntary dismissal without a court order is proper because all parties have stipulated to this dismissal and signed below. No compensation was paid to Pirate Monitor Ltd by defendants in connection with this voluntary dismissal”.

However, the filing stresses that Schneider’s claims against YouTube regarding Content ID access remain, which means the lawsuit continues but without its more problematic plaintiff.