How Youtube's automated copyright system lets big music screw indie creators


Serious question: what happens when you just re-upload the song, but tack on a little clip at the beginning: I wrote this song, yadda yadda? And if they try to takedown that one too, you re-upload again, each time slightly different.

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Sounds like he’s complaining to google about the flavour of their free ice-cream. Time to launch ?


No, he’s complaining that every time google/youtube gives him the free ice cream that he was promised, Sony/Universal/BMG/yadayada walks up and slaps the cone from his hand in plain sight of the google ice cream man…


Then the google ice cream man points and laughs and says “Them’s the breaks, kid.”

Then again, the “free ice cream” analogy is flawed, since Google starts monetizing any video that gets more than a few thousand views. I think the free ice cream actually comes from the content uploader, but I digress…


No free ice cream. Google has a service where they host user-produced content. They have an option where you can choose to have them display ads on your content, in exchange for sharing some of that revenue with you. So far, fine. The problem is that big media companies can claim that they actually own your content. Their claims go into effect immediately, and while in effect, they get the money from ads on your content. If the claim is dismissed (found invalid or just dropped or whatever), the actual content creator doesn’t get anything back and the lying company keeps the money.


Really, I should have noticed the excerpting clause. ‘We’ll just destroy your advertising revenue without due diligence, process or cause’.

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few things:
1: each re-upload needs a new link, any links to the old video no longer work killing any momentum it may have.
2: youtube has something known as “standing” which is basically how many uncontested copyright takedowns you have against you…not sure what being in bad standing does, might affect how much money you get from advertisement.

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It also kills people who make money off posting gameplay videos. They have to turn off all game music to keep from triggering the content id match, because even if it’s at background levels the scan will still find it. Since these types of videos get a huge spike of views freshly after being uploaded and then tapers off quickly, getting flagged will destroy any chance to make a living off it.

Granted, gameplay videos are a little more of a grey area since they’re putting someone else’s software on public display, but most publishers are aware it brings in more sales so they’re cool with it. The problem is the music, if it’s licensed, it’s gonna get flagged.

Basically google’s unwillingness to take a stand is making more money for companies that are already posting annual profit increases while small time entrepreneurs are told to go fuck themselves.


Might these record companies be liable for Tortious Interference? It seems like they are interfering between a business relationship between Google and content creators without any right to do so. Anyone know of any case law relevant to this point?


What would happen if indie publishers started tagging BMG properties etc?


My hubby runs an LP channel with over 500 videos. He is constantly fighting these takedown notices. He turns off music as much as possible, and even with written permission from a game company, these copyright jerks still hit him gain and again. It’s beyond frustrating.


I’ve made a few music videos for Marian Call and have several of my own videos that include properly licensed music. I constantly run into problems with Rumblefish or some other content hawk slapping their advertisements on my videos without notice.

I don’t like running ads on my videos, I feel like they clog up the works. I believe people are less likely to watch and share a video with an advertisement. At the early stages of release this stifles growth, lopping the arms off the video sharing octopus. (ok ok… insert a better metaphor)

In the case you’re someone who does actually want advertisements on your video pre-roll, too bad, your money is being funneled elsewhere during a critical time in the life cycle of your project.

I would really really like to see YouTube develop some measure of trust with the long time users who are continually fighting these battles. It should be relatively simple to develop a list of trusted users based on longevity of accounts and a history of overturned copyright disputes. These accounts should be protected from spurious robo-claimants.

And, to the free ice cream crowd, I think what we millions of users provide as independent creators contributes a whole hell of a lot more to YouTube than any service they provide us.

They’re just the cone.


How about a counter-insurgency? A group that, when you upload a new video, let’s say the price point is 10 bucks, and they go to bat for you fighting the spurious claims, with resistance, counter-claims, and litigation. Sounds like a ripe opportunity for a savvy lawyer or two to make some money and join the arms race on behalf of the little guy.

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Isn’t it ironic how copyright law and copyright practices have come full circle and are showing their true colors by directly hurting the content creators and artists.

I think it is about time we all recognize that these laws were never written to benefit the content creators or artists and were created by corporations with deep pockets and their lobbyists at the expense of the consumers, the artists, and the content creators solely for the purpose of increasing their profits. The concept of commons and public domain have suffered, fair use has suffered, even the concept of individual ownership has suffered. Now days we are forced to temporarily license DRM infested single device copies so that corporations can continue to screw the artists out of the rights to their own works. bravo.


Time to launch ?

Who do you think the “you” is referring to in “youtube”?


Few things…in the example video for this post, the British rapper mentions Fair Use and in the post Cory also mentions PRS which is also a UK rights collection agency. There is no such “right” as fair use in the UK…fair use is a US concept of law…a common misconception.

And this isn’t an issue with the law not working but a simple fact that when platforms like YouTube were created, they never took into consideration issues like Copyright so they never had anything in place to provide protections against infringement or a proper way to avoid these issues…it became an afterthought and something that has been slapped on. YouTube simply grew too fast and as we’ve seen in court documents, they actually encouraged a lot of infringement because they knew it would push their growth numbers. Google inherited this problem when they acquired the company. That’s the problem…everyone is dealing with copyright as an afterthought.

Copyright actually is one of the only protections that indie artists have to protect their own work and again…this isn’t so much an issue that the law can’t keep up with technology, but that technology never stopped to think about how to work with the law. Almost all of these services was built on infringement and while it has great promotional potential for upcoming artists, it also responsible for an enormous amount of infringement that has cost artists, not simply major labels, a lot of money. I know artists personally who have millions of dollars in lost revenue sitting on YouTube…and they don’t bother to fight it because they a) don’t want to come down on their fans and b) can’t afford to spend the time fighting every video. But Google still gets paid for that infringement. So this really goes both ways.

Now people here keep saying, time to launch “indietube.” Well that’s a cute suggestion, but if you think whatever you launch won’t need a licensing deal with rights owners, you are sadly mistaken. Anything you start will be in violation of copyright if it uses works from others…even if they are derivative or you believe they fall into “fair use” territory, because of course, fair use is a terrible protection under US law. Now I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be something like fair use, but the problem is it is so ambiguous that there’s no clear cut way to really protect works that doesn’t then involve lawyers and courts to interpret what is fair use. It’s a bit like the Supreme Court justice statement saying they can’t define pornography, but they know it when they see it. The other problem of course is that your average person doesn’t understand copyright at all…most people only believe myths around copyright…and of course if you wanted to do the right thing and get a license…that’s nearly impossible. That needs to be fixed.

The actual solution to this problem is to rethink, not copyright, but infringement and build a licensing scheme that allows anyone to take anything they want and create something new, that has the full permission of the rights holder…and that ensures the rights holder gets something for their work. If you make money from someone else’s work, they deserve a cut…that’s only fair.

One last comment…someone mentioned above that even with permission from the “game company” their LP videos were taken down. Of course they were, the gaming company doesn’t own the music…they license it as well and they can’t give you permission to use the music. They don’t have that right. They aren’t allowed to grant you a license.

Again…the problems inherent in the system aren’t because artists want to protect their work or rights holders are enforcing copyright…it’s because the system isn’t set up to “allow” creation…only enforce copyright…this is the fundamental change needed in the system around the globe is the ability to grant rights so that the act of enforcing becomes the minority issue for true infringement.


The problem with defending the “little guy,” is that there are billions of videos posted by the little guy that actually do violate the rights of someone else. The reason is because we’ve encourage infringement online to build all of these platforms, and then we deal with it as an afterthought…and we’ve also not developed any solution that just lets people get the rights to create derivative works. When the people who built platforms like YouTube did so, they all thought…ah well…we’ll fix this later…growth is more important. This is the fundamental reason people face these issues today is that no one stopped to give it any thought years ago, and now we’re all paying a price for that.

If a system were in place that allowed anyone to get a license for almost any work of copyright in a simple and intuitive manner…it would remove the need for all these takedowns…but of course as we’ve seen, the approach of the past is still the preferred method…easier to ask forgiveness than permission…because that’s literally true. Try getting a license for any song out there to use in a creative work…seriously…try it. It’s impossible.


I’ve given up trying to upload to YouTube. Mashups always get caught in the robo-net.

Your analogy completely misses the youtube business model.

Given that youtube advertising revenue was about $5.6billion in 2013, and that revenue relies entirely on users uploading content people want to watch, I’d say Google really shouldn’t be biting the hand that feeds them.

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