SPICY IP TIDBIT: Zee News’ YouTube Channel Terminated Briefly

Recently, Zee News (one of India’s leading news channels) found itself in a soup when its YouTube channel was terminated by YouTube amid “multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement.”

zee news terminated

YouTube account ‘Zee News’ terminated because of copyright infringement

It is understood that the account was terminated on 24th June and was reinstated as of 25th June, 2014. In the absence of an official statement from Zee News Ltd. or YouTube in this regard, the reasons for the reinstatement are not clear.

YouTube accounts may be terminated due to ‘repeated violation of terms of service/community guidelines’, ‘a single case of severe abuse’ (like spam) or ‘repeated claims of copyright infringement’.

The recourse left to a YouTube account holder whose account is terminated due to copyright violations is to file a DMCA counter-notification, if he believes that the copyright claims made against his account were incorrect. Here, Google details ‘Counter Notification Basics’.

 Zee News Ltd. is probably, the first big media company that had its channel terminated by YouTube.

The claims of copyright infringement are on the rise on YouTube thanks to the Content ID system that YouTube has in place, which checks a video accused of copyright infringement against the database of YouTube videos to determine the veracity of the copyright claim.

While I think that a copyright protection mechanism is necessary (in order to protect a content hosting website’s intermediary liability), the one adopted by YouTube is too stringent; copyright violation complaints are dealt with on the principle of ‘guilty unless proven otherwise’ by YouTube not realizing that the company/user whose account is terminated stands to lose a significant amount of revenue in a very short span, thereby, placing content-creators in a vulnerable position.

Earlier this month YouTube had announced that it is ready to launch its paid music service. This means that users would now have to pay for the music that they stream on YouTube; for this, the video streaming website has partnered with many major and independent music labels. This move, however, has been criticized by small music labels and indie artists who have refused to sign the license contract with YouTube because they believe that the terms of the contract are highly unfavourable and non-negotiable; apparently, the fee that will be paid to the artists according to the contract is too low.

Further, in the event that a music company/label refuses to sign the license contract, YouTube plans to block their content.

I think it is time that YouTube reviews its copyright policies because it is helping neither the artists nor the people who view the content posted on YouTube and the only player who stands to benefit from them is YouTube itself.

Devika Agarwal

Devika is a Policy Analyst at Nasscom. She first started writing on Spicy IP in 2013 when she was awarded the Spicy IP Fellowship, which sparked her passion for writing on IP. Devika is interested in copyright and technology law.

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