Virtual YouTubers have been dealt a double blow this month, with YouTube announcing they would discontinue community subtitles, and Hololive being struck by multiple DMCA claims.
YouTube recently announced that they would be discontinuing their community subtitles program, citing misuse and under-utilization of the feature. The discontinuation was originally reported by the Twitter user @CensoredGaming, and included a screenshot of the message given to certain accounts.
An official thread on the Google Support page provides more details about the removal of Community Contributions. “While we hoped Community Contributions would be a wide-scale,” the page explains, “community-driven source of quality translations for Creators, it’s rarely used and people continue to report spam and abuse.”
“Both creators and viewers have reported problems with the community contributions feature, including spam, abuse, and low quality submissions. As a result, the feature is rarely used with less than 0.001% of channels having published community captions (showing on less than 0.2% of watch time) in the last month. Instead, creators are using YouTube’s alternative captioning tools.
We’ve decided to discontinue the Community Contributions feature across all channels after September 28, 2020. You can still use manual and automatic captions, as well as third party tools and services.
No other captioning tools are going away beyond Community Contributions. You can still add your own captions and subtitles, or use YouTube’s built-in automatic captioning feature.”
While Google is removing the feature, they are promoting the use of third party collaboration tools for creating subtitles, particularly subscription services.
The removal of Community Contributions will disproportionately affect foreign YouTubers trying to reach an English-Speaking audience. While larger Virtual YouTubers have their own paid translators to produce subtitles, but smaller and “up-and-coming” Virtual YouTubers may struggle to break the international market due to this.
Even so, Virtual YouTubers like the cast of Hololive are likely to be affected by YouTube’s removal of the feature to some degree. This is made worse by them being hit by a wave of multiple DMCA claims.
A user on r/Hololive noted multiple videos across the Hololive virtual YouTuber network were being privatized. It was later revealed to be numerous DMCA claims filed against those videos due to music and sound effects used in videos.
Cover Corp (the company behind Hololive) later issued an apology, confirming that many of those videos are likely to be deleted.
“We apologize for the use of copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright holders. Thank you for supporting our talent. VTuber office operated by our company Youtube archives of several talents belonging to Holo Live Production, there are some parts that use crops that are not licensed by the right holder, therefore copyright violation, this matter is due to the lack of management on our part. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and in order to promote sound distribution activities in the future, we will carry out non-disclosure and deletion support on all of our talent’s YouTube Content. We will only publish the content for which we have the permission. We deeply regret the fact that this situation has been reached, and we sincerely apologize to everyone involved. We would like to reinforce the management system again and try to prevent the recurrence of such a situation. There are many points that we cannot reach, but we are very sorry, but we would appreciate your continued support and support. 30th (Thurs.) Cover Co., Ltd. President and CEO Motoaki Tanigo”
Many of the Virtual YouTuber’s Twitter accounts also issued apologies, while remaining in character.
Users in the subReddit thread lamented that deletion of some classic videos could mean the hard work of the Virtual YouTubers (encluding endurance challenges) would be in vain. Others hoped that after the matter had been cleared, the videos would return.
The source of the mass DMCA has not been revealed, though there has been speculation it has been the same company due to the takedowns all happening roughly on the same day.
Image: Know Your Meme