Like any site, YouTube can stream material without artists’ permission thanks to 1998’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The law allows companies to post copyrighted content online if they agree to take it down upon request. But in the YouTube age, this means artists’ representatives need to monitor hundreds of millions of new videos every day.
YouTube says it has addressed the issue, spending $60 million to build a “Content ID” program, which uses digital “fingerprints” to identify pirated material.This system catches 99.5 percent of copyrighted material, says Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer. “I challenge somebody to find a better system of copyright management anywhere,” says Kyncl. “It’s been nearly a decade of us investing in the system when no one else does anything.”