Well, this is an unusual topic for this website. However, being an advocate of watching YouTube and amateur uploader of content, video theft is something I have seen personally on more than a rare occasion and it bothers me. So, in order to help bring awareness, I've decided to count down 10 ways I have seen YouTubers steal videos. My one regret sadly, is that I will have to give examples. While I loath the idea of giving any type of promotion to stolen content, it is necessary to prove my point, but I will keep it at a minimum. I'll say this now, it is not an innocent "tribute" to someone once you hit the monetize button. That being said, click "read more" for the full list.
Disclaimer! These aren't in any special order.
Well, this is a pretty obvious choice. Straight up re-uploading a video is the most direct way to steal a video so it should be up higher right? No. YouTube actually has a pretty good system to counter direct video theft like this so realistically it should not even be on the list. However, there are specific types of videos that people have been getting away with re-uploading. Some of these are "original versions" of a video or videos from a deleted channel. But, the most common are videos that are in the gray of being copyright violation. The most common I have noticed are AMV's or other music videos not done by the musician.
Here is one that was stolen from an Otakon AMV contest entry from 1998 by Studio Service and has been uploaded, deleted, and re-uploaded about a thousand times by various youtubers.
#9 Zoom-In/Out and Messed Up Audio
Anyone looking to watch anime episodes on YouTube must have noticed this from time to time. Expect to see little tricks like this to avoid the automatic copyright scan to show up a couple more times in this list. That is basically the sum of it; YouTube has an automatic system to detect if a video has copyrighted material and one of the ways people fool this system is to zoom the video footage in cropping in the top and bottom bad or shrinking the video into a corner and changing the pitch or speed of the audio. It feels extremely low quality bootleg.
This one left the audio intact but used a funky background.
#8: Mirroring the Video
This is about as lazy an edit as it gets to avoid the automatic system. Even the free/most basic video editors can flip a video horizontally. It almost feels like an unaltered clip, unless you've seen it before hand. What's especially funny is when the episode clip actually calls this out.
#7: Sped Up/Slowed Down
Yes, this is also used to avoid the automatic system, but sometimes are attempts to try and pass something as a legitimate new video. There was a point in time where pretty much any popular song had a "sped up" or "slowed" version uploaded. Even today, those still exist but with more titles. One of the more silly incarnations would be the "Chipmunk" version of songs. Just raise the pitch or speed up the song and BAM, Chipmunk.
Got to love when they even don't even give it an original video.
However, the popular new thing right now is "NightCore". This actually is a legitimate way to remix music at its core. The idea is that it is a form of electronic music that speeds up tempo and raises pitch to make the music happier sounding and easier to dance to. Source!
I'm actually a big fan of NightCore because I love upbeat tracks. However, a true remix doesn't use the original recording of a song, they are made from scratch with permission from the originals creator. What many YouTubers are doing is simply editing a song to increase the speed and pitch and playing it over a picture of an anime character. (I have no idea why the anime character became a tradition with NightCore.) This is a copyright time bomb.
#6: "Borrowed" Gameplay Footage
This issue has actually gotten worse over the years. A lot of people want to review video games or do top 10s involving them but lack the resources or patients to capture the footage themselves. So, they use a one of the dozens of YouTube downloaders available and re-use some let's play footage, reviews, or other gaming video that other channels have made without their content or giving them credit. This was a big thing among smaller reviewers, however as time passed some bigger channels having been getting caught faking their gaming videos. A popular source around these time for this crime is Fortnite.
These are some videos I actually want to promote as they cover the issue very well. I don't even play Fortnite but these stories still break my heart.
I advice continuing research on this topic on your own. There are more stories out there worth seeing that aren't hard to find.
#5: Monotized & Uncredited Montages
Here is a fun fact, when you see a montage on TV, they need to get permission from everything/everyone that is shown in the montage and their copyright owners. YouTube is little more lenient on this and a montage can be a fun little fan tribute to get people to check out a channel. However, there are a couple red flags that make this less than innocent. First is monotizing; as I said in the opening, once you try to make money off someone else's work it cannot be called an innocent fan tribute anymore. The other flag would be not crediting the original creator of the footage used. It actually THIS reddit post that got this issue to my attention when a YouTuber found out about their gameplay being used. Obviously, using someone else's video and passing it as you're own is stealing.
#4: Reaction Videos That Play the Full Video
This might trigger a few people because a reaction video actually is a very well recognized video that many YouTubers do. Channels like Dang Matt Smith are almost based entirely around reaction videos and that guy is a genius. There is a correct and wrong way to do a reaction video. Only showing clips of the video one is reacting too and editing out any long pauses is the correct way because it gives incentive to watch the original video. But, when playing the original video in its entirety is when the issue comes in.
I believe JacksFilms said it best in this video.
#3: Commentaries! On Someone Else's Video
This is kind of a silly thing to do in my opinion. Generally, people watch commentaries to learn some behind the scenes secrets from the creator and what they think about their video. In all honesty, even when they aren't about a video and are just rambles about various topics, commentary is actually an interesting form of entertainment.
The problem I have with specific commentary videos are the same as the reaction videos, when they play someone else's video entirely in theirs. No need for a double explanation, that is plain and simple theft.
This one is called a "response" but it fits a commentary way more. A 40 minute video picking about a 15 minute video and screen capturing it directly.
#2: Countdowns With Little to No Edits
I already briefly mentioned how some countdowns use stolen footage, but this is much worse. Basically, this is claiming a video is a top 10 or some other number and just playing 10 videos, stealing multiple videos at once. No reason for any placement within the video or any form of abridging. This is especially popular with music as it can be promoted as a compilation. Minecraft parodies are where I discovered this first, some of them having multiple mid-roll ads on them.
Here is one I found especially lazy, top 20 that plays 10 different music videos twice without any edits.
#1: Using the Language Barrier
This pick was inspired entirely by SpaceHamster. It is an interesting act that is similar to dubbing. Take an existing video, edit out any parts with the creator on screen, dub over the rest in another language, and claim it as your own.
In this particular case, the video thief deleted his channel and twitter after SpaceHamster's video was released. But, I'd still like to draw attention to this issue in case it ever happens again or if it is still happening with other uploaders.
There we have it. Ten ways I've seen YouTubers steal videos. Do you know any other methods or want to debunk any of my picks? I hope you do! Leave a comment or discuss this on our forums and I'll gladly reply. Until then, this is Cendoo/Red Diamond, signing off and I'll see you in the next article.