YouTube has been pretty good about fighting copyright violations. At least, I think so. They’ve worked hard to remove videos containing unauthorized clips, and they created ContentID to go an extra step in scoping out violations on behalf of certain partners. They even ban user accounts that have three uncontested copyright violations. But apparently… it’s not enough. Today, YouTube has announced a number of changes to how they handle copyright violations.

YouTube is pretty smart. They know that there are some users who will never stop uploading copyrighted content–those users just don’t care about the law. However, there are also plenty of users who violation copyright on accident, perhaps due to poor education on the matter. And let’s face it, it’s not like copyright law is universally easy to comprehend… there can be a lot of rules and exceptions. This new update is all about education–both so that they can teach the less-informed users and so the ill-intentioned users will have no excuse.

Revamped Copyright Help Center

So the first thing YouTube tweaked was the Copyright Help Center:

As you can see, the new help center is broken up by the various type of user. Content owners have their own help section:

And so do the video creators who might be tempted to use copyrighted materials:

There’s even a section just for learning more about copyright rules and issues:

They’re really going the extra mile here to get the word out on copyright rules. If you really pressed me, I’d probably speculate that it has something to do with staving off future lawsuits (like the Viacom mess) by going above and beyond with copyright due diligence. And of course… obviously… the fewer users they have violating the law, the less work they have to do chasing them down and removing videos.

They even created a fun little educational video about copyright law:

YouTube Copyright School

It used to be that users had a few chances to screw up with regard to copyright violations, and then they’d be sent packing. Now, however they’re changing it up a bit. Here’s a look at the new Copyright School:

Any user for whom YouTube receives a copyright notification will be subject to the new Copyright School. It mostly consists of watching the animated educational clip embedded above and then taking an online quiz designed to prove you paid attention. Once you successfully pass Copyright School, you’ll be allowed to return to video-making.

They’re also planning to use Copyright School as a way for penalized channels to earn their way back into YouTube’s good graces. If a user has a few copyright violations in his early videos, but has since then cleaned up his act… and he goes and passes Copyright School… YouTube will remove one or more of the “strikes” against his account.

However, it should be noted that YouTube is taking these on a case-by-case basis. Not all three-strike account holders will be allowed to do this; only those who have demonstrated (in YouTube’s eyes) an improved understanding of the behaviors they’re expected to avoid.


As I mentioned above, I’m sure this has as much to do with future lawsuit protection as anything else. They can say to the next judge they face, “Hey, look how hard we tried to get the word out and educate people… you can’t blame us.”

And yet, there are plenty of other reasons for YouTube to want more educated users–it will save them time and money fighting infractions down the road if they can do a better job of holding the users’ hands through the complicated world of copyright law.