christian-wiediger-NmGzVG5Wsg8-unsplashYouTube is not short its problems, not least of which are its handling of copyright claims. Given the size of the platform, administering any element of the site is going to be a unique challenge, and the lure of DIY options has to cry out to staff that feel overwhelmed and overtaxed to keep up with the manifold problems that seem to be introduced every day. Their method, or one of them, for reporting copyright infringement —allowing users to flag offending content— seems perfect, unless you've spent a day or an hour on the actual internet. Not surprisingly, the system is ripe for exploitation by bad-faith actors looking to exploit others. It would be too simple to think that YouTube might simply do away with what is clearly a flawed notion, but they do seem to be taking some action to try and stem the issue, at least in miniature.

The Verge notes that YouTube is taking up a lawsuit against a copyright troll for attempting to use their copyright reporting system to extort creators. The lawsuit alleges that one Christopher Brady sought to extort the creators of Minecraft videos, "Kenzo" and "ObbyRaidz" respectively, threatening to put the creators up against YouTube's three-strike policy on copyright infringement claims unless they paid him money to stop. The issue didn't draw notice, despite "ObbyRaidz"'s attempts to contact YouTube administrators, until both creators spoke out about the matter on their channels. Upon investigation, YouTube discovered that Brady used fifteen different profiles to manage different claims, which can be interpreted as devious, entrepreneurial, or sad, or perhaps all three.

Still, the lawsuit is but a single blow against a many-headed hydra, as the problem extends far beyond one man with limited ambitions and plenty of time. Having a tool come to be wielded as a weapon is not unique to YouTube, or the internet; in a certain telling of our origins, it may be as old as tools themselves. But it doesn't make it any less of an issue now, particularly considering how effectively and easily the tools in question can be used, and the willingness with which we seem to be willing to undertake such actions to harm one another. Copyright is an increasing concern given the proliferation of media and content, and infringement is a real problem that still lacks a comprehensive answer as to how to address it in an age when it's increasingly easy to steal the work of others. But passing it off to users to self-police doesn't seem to be the right answer - indeed, it seems more and more like letting the inmates run the asylum.

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