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US judge declines to dismiss Maria Schneider legal battle with YouTube over Content ID access

By | Published on Thursday 4 August 2022


A US judge has declined to dismiss the lawsuit being pursued by musician Maria Schneider against YouTube over who has access to the Google service’s Content ID rights management system.

Despite YouTube claiming last year that the most recent version of Schneider’s lawsuit contains a “potpourri of pleading problems”, the judge overseeing the case declared this week that the video platform’s arguments for dismissal were “unavailing”.

Schneider argues that while Content ID may be a pretty decent rights management system – providing tools that allow copyright owners to remove or monetise videos that contain their content – access to those tools is restricted to bigger corporate rights owners, and aggregators and distributors. YouTube doesn’t deny that access to Content ID is limited, but says that it has to be careful who it allows to use those tools, given it’s a pretty powerful rights management system.

Those limitations mean independent creators have to use YouTube’s manual takedown systems instead, which – Schneider reckons – are not fit for purpose.

YouTube is obliged to provide a takedown system to benefit from the copyright safe harbour, which allows it to avoid liability for copyright infringing content uploaded by its users. So the question is: however good Content ID may be, while many creators can’t access those tools, are the Google site’s manual systems sufficient for it to qualify for safe harbour protection?

Schneider originally had a co-defendant who had to bail on the case after YouTube showed that said co-defendant had broken the video platform’s rules regarding content uploads and takedowns.

But even once that co-defendant was removed – and some new co-defendants were added in his place – YouTube argued that there were still plenty of problems with Schneider’s lawsuit. In fact, a “potpourri” of problems. And to that end, late last year the Google company asked for the litigation to be dismissed.

But, according to Billboard, judge James Donato this week ruled that YouTube’s arguments in favour of having Schneider’s lawsuit dismissed at this stage were not effective, indeed they were “unavailing” and “not well taken”. As a result, the dispute will now proceed into the discovery phase.