Maria Schneider Copyright Infringement Case vs. YouTube Goes Forward

Maria Schneider YouTube

Photo Credit: Maurice / CC by 2.0

A California judge has denied the YouTube request to toss a copyright lawsuit by composer Maria Schneider.

Schneider’s lawsuit accuses YouTube of creating its Content ID system to work at the behest of only large rights holders. It calls YouTube a “hotbed of copyright infringement through its development and implementation of a copyright enforcement system that protects only the most powerful copyright owners such as major studios and record labels.”

The Grammy-winning jazz composer is a frequent critic of big tech and how it controls users’ data. Her album Data Lords touches on these topics and explores how big tech threatens the livelihood of the creators it is supposed to enable.

“The DMCA creates an upside-down world in which people can illegally upload my music in a matter of seconds. It’s a world of no consequences for big data businesses that profit handsomely from unauthorized content, but with real-world financial harm for me and my fellow creators,” Schneider told a Congressional subcommittee in 2014.

Maria Schneider is seeking to turn her YouTube lawsuit into a potential class-action, where other creators can share their copyright woes. YouTube sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, but U.S. District Court Judge James Donato said YouTube failed to show why the lawsuit should be dismissed at this early stage.

At the heart of the lawsuit is YouTube’s Content ID system, which uses audio and visual fingerprints to ID infringing videos automatically. One of Schneider’s claims is that this system is only available to top rights holders and that “only five percent or less of all people who apply for Content ID are approved.”

Schneider argues that small-time copyright holders are left with the huge job of stopping pirates after they’ve already pirated their works. “The whack-a-mole approach required for creators to remove infringing material works discentivize the creation of new works and reduce the value of all works,” the lawsuit claims.