The future is here today: you can't play Bach on Facebook because Sony says they own his compositions

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He should be able to contest this, no problem. It’s probably because their entire catalog was uploaded into the copyright system, and that includes classical musicians performing public domain works.

If they manage to enforce their claim, then we have a huge issue.


I was under the impression that, while classical compositions are mostly under public domain, the recordings themselves can be copyright protected. I can understand the reasoning- it is expensive to hire an orchestra, hall, engineers etc. There is an investment in recording a symphony that needs return. However, if it is just an automated algorithms scanning waveforms on YouTube, or however it works, it can’t possibly account for who recorded the piece and when. This is where the enforcement system breaks down. I doubt Sony is knowingly claiming ownership of the pieces themselves- but rather mistakenly identifying the recording as being one they own.


My apologies, spelling again…



In my opinion it’s not enough to contest it and have his video restored. This is an innocent until proven guilty implementation. If censorship is automatic based on a false claim, then there should be automatic punitive measures for Sony for the false claim and automatic damages awarded to Rhodes for being wrongfully accused of a crime.


If you got algorithm, you ain’t got not soul.


The issue is more dumb too loosely matching algorithms that Sony doesn’t have any incentive to fix.


Putting their recordings in the system, while being aware that the algorithm can’t distinguish between different performances (as they must be), effectively means they’re knowingly claiming ownership of the pieces themselves.


Assuming they would have an incentive, and assuming their algorithms had a very high precision - just given the amount of uploaded material, there will be false positives.

BTW, this is also true for more important things, like the SWIFT system, or credit scoring. Or if you end up on a terror watch list.

Before I say anything further, I would like to talk to a priest to prepare myself for the worst. Is Mr. Bayes available?


And if another classical record label like Erato or Harmonia Mundi (let alone someone bigger like MCA/Universal) runs afoul of Sony, then what? (Cue Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.)


I agree, but I don’t think the current flawed system is dystopian in scope as the article suggests. (At least not yet)


Sony Music (related but not identical to Sony the electronic gadget maker) probably owns the copyright to a bunch of recordings of Bach pieces being played on a piano. Too bad for Mr Rhodes if his recording sounds substantially similar to those in Sony Music’s catalogue and the $60M YouTube upload filter can’t tell the difference between them, because YouTube cares deeply about the happiness of Sony Music (a paying customer) and rather less so about that of Mr Rhodes (a freeloading part of the product being sold by YouTube to the likes of Sony Music).

The real problem is that there is no penalty for claiming copyright on stuff that doesn’t actually belong to you. If wrongfully asserting copyright over public-domain material or material whose copyright is owned by others came with consequences comparable to those attached to the infringement of legitimate copyrights, these automated infrastructures would go away very soon because no copyright holder would want to use them.


I wonder at what point (volume and deliberate knowledge of falsity of claims) it meets the legal definition of fraud (depending on your jurisdiction)?


My all-robot funk band, The Algorhythms, begs to differ.


What I want to know is how much and when Sony paid JS Bach for the rights to his music and when he cashed the check.


Don’t worry. Open Culture has you covered.
All of Bach for Free! New Site Will Put Performances of 1080 Bach Compositions Online


Welcome to the YouTube Content ID system.

That said, to be fair to Sony, the claiming is itself automated by YouTube, on their behalf. Also, the upload isn’t necessarily ‘censored’; based on policies set for the original composition or song asset it matches against, it may just be monetized by ads, or unavailable in certain countries, or even be available everywhere and free but blocking the user from monetizing it themselves. Sony themselves can at any point identify it as a false positive, but the user might’ve seen the claim before a Sony employee corrected it.

I’m kind of shocked Boing Boing’s writers, even if they’re not intricately familiar with how YouTube Content ID works, don’t seem to know that a lot of copyright infringement detection is automated. Do they assume copyright enforcement is manually done across the millions of users and billions of pieces of content across all major social media and video platforms? It’s even, in itself, worth talking about as a major advancement in technology, and how its receding limitations shapes how the modern Internet shares media, and therefore communicates.

But Cory Doctorow sees a tweet from one musician, and rather than follow up on or explore what happened, declares “THE SKY HAS FALLEN; THE CORPORATIONS ARE HERE TO TAKE YOUR CLASSICAL PIANO COMPOSITIONS. BEHOLD THE FUTURE YOU WERE DARKLY PROMISED.”

So long as these companies don’t face any penalty for their fraudulent copyright claims, nothing deters them from being kleptomaniacs. The algorithm exists precisely because human’s can’t review every claim, so the companies that game the algorithm by lying can do so knowing only a small fraction of their claims will get reviewed.


Was it the regular Bach or Hip-Hop Bach?


This is giving me panic attacks. Between the net neutrality repeal and this shit, corporations are actively trying to murder everything that make the internet great! How can we stand for this without violent uprising? Our very lively hoods are at stake!