Warner Accused of Copyrighting 36, 50, Demonetizing YouTubers Who Use Them

Can you really copyright numbers? Warner is apparently demonetizing YouTubers who use the numbers in their video’s in this latest controversy.

There is yet another wave of notices and warnings being handed out to YouTubers. This time, it’s for unauthorized use of the numbers 36 and 50. If you use those numbers, you could be hit with a copyright claim.

All this according to reports that are surfacing on a couple of sources now. One of those sources is BoingBoing that is showcasing screenshots of copyright claims being made. From BoingBoing:

Warner subsidiary Otter Media has a division called Fullscreen (“a social content company for talent and brands”) that has been demonetizing Youtubers’ videos that use the numbers 36 and 50 (and possibly other numbers, for all we know), claiming that their use of these integers is a copyright violation. Doing so allows Warner to steal the money that these Youtubers’ videos would otherwise earn.

Youtube operates a filter called Content ID that allows rightsholders to automatically claim control over user-created videos that contain materials that are the rightsholders’ copyrighted works. This system has no checks and balances and virtually no penalties for abuse, and users who complain can attract “copystrikes” — three of these, and you lose your account and your videos, permanently, with no appeal.

Generally speaking, it’s not really possible to copyright a number. For rightsholder, the better bet is to attempt to Trademark the number instead. Even then, that is, at best, a highly questionable thing to do in the first place. In the end, this is probably the latest example of fraudulent copyright claims running rampant across YouTube.

We’ve seen a number of copyright fraud cases hit YouTubers in the last while now. Previously, we saw someone get a copyright notice for using public domain material. In another case, a copyright troll finally got sued by YouTube after they used the copyright system to randomly extort YouTubers out of cash. In that case, the troll went to the extreme of gathering address information and swatting their victims in an effort to pay their extortion demands over material the troll never owned.

A third case we say, which happened earlier this month, is the Studio71_1_2 copyright trolling. That was where random “Let’s Play” videos were taken down over alleged copyright infringement. YouTubers at the time report that the claim was withdrawn after a dispute was made.

Last year, YouTube unveiled new tools supposedly to help YouTubers navigate copyright disputes. Those tools, however, didn’t seem to address the issue of copyright fraud and abuse. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) joined in on the criticism earlier this month by pointing out that YouTube’s DMCA tools do not respect fair use.

So, with the latest rollout being a bust for the most part, YouTuber’s will likely not get any reprieve any time soon from this rampant problem. For the most part, we’ll continue to see highly questionable copyright claims being filed in the future as well. This will simply leave the creators on YouTube high and dry and vulnerable to this activity.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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