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YouTube says its software let content owners make $1 billion in the last year — so the music labels should stop complaining

Now it’s your turn to respond, Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift The 1989 World Tour Live In Los Angeles - Night 3 Christopher Polk / Getty
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Here’s the latest salvo in the back and forth between YouTube and the music industry: A report from Google that says its video site’s copyright software has allowed content owners to generate $1 billion in the last year or so.

Or, in other words: Hey, music guys! Stop moaning about money we’re making plenty of it for you.

Google’s formal message comes via “How Google Fights Piracy,” a 62-page mega-pamphlet it is releasing today.

Google has published the report before. The new part is that it says its Content ID tool, which lets copyright owners “claim” videos users upload to YouTube so they can get some of the ad revenue those clips generate, has created $2 billion for copyright owners since 2007.

The last time Google put out the report, in late 2014, it pegged that number at $1 billion. So that’s a rapid, significant increase.

Not all of that money gets distributed to music owners, since Content ID works for any kind of video.

But a blog post that accompanies the report makes it quite clear that Google is responding to the music industry, which has spent the past few months complaining that YouTube doesn’t pay them enough and that Content ID isn’t a solution.

“Half of the music industry's YouTube revenue comes from fan content claimed via Content ID,” writes Katie Oyama, a Google policy lawyer.

So what do you want to say about that, Taylor Swift?

This article originally appeared on

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