Copyright Trolls Outsmart YouTube’s Policies To Terminate Channel

hand holding phone with YouTube on screen in front of laptop showing YouTube Video unavailable screen with orange to red vertical gradient overlay Passionfruit Remix
photobyphotoboy/Shutterstock (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

Trolls seem to have threatened yet another creator’s livelihood with fraudulent copyright strikes—this time the target is an influencer whose literal job is to upload uncredited music. 

YouTuber Jay Kay tweeted that his channel was terminated after he received false copyright strikes for music he used in his videos. This is exceptionally wild because he’s a member of the “lostwave” community who uploads songs without title or artist information in hopes of popularizing them enough to find their original creator. 

Of course, thanks to copyright strikes, that means a complete rando could appear and claim ownership of one of his videos, destroying Jay Kay’s channel and stealing credit for the original artist. And that’s basically what’s happened here.

“This is completely unjust and in turn, you are letting a literal thief and criminal win out over legitimate YouTube channels that have not done anything wrong,” Jay Kay wrote on Twitter.

Under YouTube’s copyright policy, someone claiming to be copyright holder (for music, photos, etc.) can request that a video they say uses their content without permission be taken down entirely. The channel that used their content is then given a copyright strike, also known as a “copystrike.” On YouTube and in baseball, three strikes result in termination. 

JayKay said in a tweet that the person who issued the strikes against him is a troll that doesn’t rightfully own the song in his video.

“He used a company called @sonosuite to copyright and monetize the songs using the alias ‘D-YXKI,’” Jay Kay wrote. He added that he was not the only creator to receive a strike from this user, but he was the only one whose channel was terminated. 

Neither Jay Kay nor SonoSuite responded to Passionfruit’s request for comment. 

YouTube’s copyright policy may protect original creators in theory, but it’s easily weaponized. Just weeks ago, the owner of the Business Casual YouTube channel issued three copystrikes against a creator who used the same public domain photo as Business Casual with a different filter applied. 

Trolls have determined how to harness YouTube’s policies for nefarious purposes, like taking down creators they don’t like. The fact that they’re doing so under the platform’s longstanding policy means it’s unlikely that YouTube will fix anything—unless there’s an uproar. They’d have to give a creator special treatment, which isn’t exactly a good look for a social media site with billions of users.

“What we do is spread these songs in hopes of getting them identified,” Jay Kay wrote about his lostwave channel. He added that this goal attracts “scammers and thieves” who copyright the songs for themselves and benefit from the fact that the true-yet-unknown creator cannot be notified. 

Now, how do we know that D-YXKI isn’t the true creator of the songs on Jay Kay’s channel that they claimed? Jay Kay tweeted that he finds it suspicious that D-YXKI deleted all evidence on Twitter that they reached out to YouTube about the potential copystrike. But it would benefit any creators used in lostwave videos to contact the person who uploaded their music to get credit directly so that they can make money off the content used, not terminate the channel of the person trying to draw attention to their creations.

Additionally, Jay Kay pointed out that this same person seems to have re-uploaded another artist’s music on SoundCloud and YouTube so that they can claim ownership of it. 

YouTube did not respond to a request for comment from Passionfruit, but they responded to Jay Kay’s messages on Twitter in posts that seemed to be standardized for all creators. He also wrote that YouTube’s copyright help team has been “useless” via email. Other creators facing allegedly false strikes haven’t been successful in their counterclaims. 

YouTuber Justin Whang drew attention to Jay Kay’s with a quote tweet. 

“How many years has this shit been going on? And they still are unable to stop people from abusing the system?” one Twitter user responded. 

What’s happening here is a wider problem for YouTube and all tech platforms with content moderation policies. Sometimes, innovative trolls find ways to hack the system to their benefit, and the rigorous and automated processes aren’t equipped to handle that kind of engineering. As false copyright claims continue to rise, their moderation needs a human touch.

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