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

We need serious penalties for companies abusing this stuff, but that’s just the start. We need to go after the individual lawyers working for these companies. Make them have a lawyer sign their affidavit that they own the copyright, and if he gets it wrong, he gets tried for fraud and disbarred, personally, in addition to whatever happens to the company.

We can start this by journalists writing articles like this actively naming and shaming the individuals involved on the companies side, so that Google will remember who they are.


Who’s proposing these things, and why haven’t they been dragged behind a car yet?

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With cannons.

Ideally pointed at the big label HQ’s


Now if only counterattacks for false claims can be automated. Internet technology is often led by porn. Perhaps the robot wars will start over automated copyright claims of porn.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see botnets posting tens of thousands of copies of content quicker than the censor bots can deal with it.

In other words, control of the work is taken over from the creator by a hostile third party, who is then allowed to profit from it and/or arbitrarily block it regionally without the artist’s permission and against their will? That’s not really better.

What would be proper would be if the content id system, instead of immediately conducting offensive operations that directly harm artists, instead notified the purported owner to manually review the item and file a claim saying “Yeah, that is ours, see ___, we request that you A) take it down, B) give us the ad money, C) just don’t let them have ad money.” At least then it would have some legitimacy and someone who actually claimed it was theirs.


Copyright “enforcement” is done automatically (and instantaneously) but complaints about overbroad enforcement have to be filed by hand, are handled manually, and can take a long time to process. In addition, there is no downside for purported copyright holders when their claims are not upheld. This means there is an inherent asymmetry in the system that puts purported rights holders at a considerable advantage.

This is on top of the fact that there are various circumstances under which it would be perfectly legal for someone to use a copyrighted work (or appreciable parts of one), such as criticism or parody. In many such cases it can be difficult even for a court of law to figure out whether there is actual infringement or not, and there is no way an automated upload filter could reliably make a correct determination of legality. This is another incentive for the operators of these filters to block material that would in fact be perfectly legal to disseminate, and the hassle to get bad decisions cleared up, even if they should eventually turn out in favour of the non-infringers, acts like a damper on creativity.

In the case mentioned here, the situation is absolutely clear: Bach’s music is in the public domain and it is completely within the rights of anyone to play and record it and post the recording online, the existence of commercial recordings owned by the likes of Sony Music notwithstanding. Any “copyright infringement” system that does not take this fact into account is obviously not fit for purpose. But of course if the computer says there is copyright infringement then the computer must, a priori, be right, and it is upon the person who posted the recording, who did nothing at all wrong, to sort things out, which is patently unfair.

Good luck getting YouTube’s filter fixed so it can tell the difference between Mr Rhodes’ rendition of Bach’s public-domain music and that of some guy who played the same music on a Sony Music record – YouTube’s main goal in the whole affair is to avoid getting sued by Sony Music for abetting copyright infringement and they couldn’t care less about whether Mr Rhodes can post his own recordings or not, certainly not to a point where they’re interested in trying to solve the problem of reliably telling Mr Rhodes’ recordings from Sony Music’s, a task that many humans would probably find difficult to handle. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to block Mr Rhodes’ stuff and let him complain later.


Or the Switched-On version?


The problem is: People thinking that (IP) Intellectual Property has anything to do with property. It does NOT. No one OWNS ideas like they own a suit or a computer!

Time ago (1600s) the justification was: people invested resources figuring out something, so now they need some kind of protection to profit from that investment. It was flawed thinking still, but at least it had a pass. You were granted monopoly status for a few years, 10 -14 years, to profit from your efforts and that’s all.

But in modern times the thinking morphed into IP like a Property Title. Like I own a pair of shoes. I will own this thing until I die, and then I will pass it to my heirs! I can sell it, I can lease it, whatever. Which is BEYOND RETARDED.

The thing is: ideas are not actual MATERIAL things! ideas are NOT SCARCE! People define/establish property over MATERIAL things to avoid conflict. Because MATERIAL things are SCARCE. They are exclusionary, their use by one person precludes their use by others. You want to sit on this chair, I want to sit on this chair, we better figure out who the owner is, otherwise we will have to fight over the chair. People try to avoid those fights that’s why Property is defined over SCARCE resources.

Ideas are NOT scarce. I thinking on some idea does not precludes you of thinking in exactly the same thing. I knowing the secret receipt of CocaCola does not impedes CocaCola in using the exact same receipt. I reproducing some artist’s song in my PC doesn’t stop that artist from singing that song anywhere else. Or watching a movie in my PC doesn’t stop Paramount Pictures from showing the exact same picture in some theatre.

For those who doesn’t see the logical argument, but still focus on the emotional “Oh, but that’s not fair! Paramount spent so many millions making that film”. Well, at least that would bring us back to the initial intent. We grant those people a FEW short years of monopoly status to make up for PART (not each and every idea has to always make money) of the money invested, and then off they go on their own.

Or better yet, take a much logical approach and apply Contract Law. People interchanging the idea agree to be bounded by a contract. Apart from exposing the idiotic rules that apply nowadays, if you want to see this movie you have to agree not to show this movie to anyone else, you cannot write (e.g. a book) about the things you see in the movie, you cannot replay the scenes of the movie, you cannot recreate the art of the movie, and on and on and on… for the next 100 YEARS!!!

Apart from that, at least Contract Law won’t bind third unconsenting parties. Things like: “- I did not now, nor interact with that inventor, I invent this by myself. - So sorry, he ran first to the Patent Office… womp womp /trollface”, won’t happen.

What a long post, if you are still interested in this approach read Stephan Kinsella ( He is an IP lawyer who enlighten me on these issues.


I stopped using YouTube because a company put ads against my video, which used a public domain recording from 1920s. A company had run noise reduction on the recording, claimed copyright, and began selling the track on iTunes, etc. Automated system can’t tell the difference. So I appeal to the YouTube. YouTube is just bots. They ignore me. I pulled down the videos. The end.


It’s those lively hoods who are stealing this stuff in the first place.


and since it’s sized…

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Welcome to BoingBoing!

Oddly enough Cory does know that. He writes about it quite a bit. Stick around/check the archives and you’ll get to read a lot more of it.

Yup, that kind of thing is absolutely Cory’s bag.

The technology shaping how we share media and communicate is kinda what the whole article is about after all.

Hint - he doesn’t think it’s shaping it in a good way…

Oh, you got that.

What was your point again? :slight_smile:


You can’t have “disappointment” with out having a “point”. :wink:


I see what you did there. Very good.
I only have one like to give - deserves more.

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This is the dirty little secret of “automation”. It’s real purpose is to allow us to pretend we can avoid doing the intricate and hard work that is required to actually be serious and careful about something. It’s just another layer in the liability padding that every risk manager is frothing at the mouth to institute and hide behind.


The recordings of the performances are indeed copyrighted, and due all the accompanying protections.

But it’s a much more reactionary story if Cory pretends that Sony is claiming ownership of Bach’s work and not the much-more-recent performance thereof.

How sad, he said, with more than 9 characters.

I agree with everything you, and others, have said about the asymmetry of YouTube’s Content ID system. And that’s why I think it’s worth talking about as an issue unto itself.

I still think Doctorow’s write-up of this specific situation is overly simplified to more easily paint the story as ‘Sony’s is actively attempting to stop people from playing Bach without giving them money.’


The point is that the article includes none of this information. Requiring awareness of Doctorow’s backlog of opinions and expertise in order to see the story through the correct prism of context is a disservice to the reader, especially as an individual article with such a provocative title is bound to make its way to people, like me, who aren’t regular Boing Boing readers.

Painting Sony as actively trying to claim Bach’s compositions might be fun for longtime readers, but it’s poor writing and poor journalism seemingly done to create a more exciting, and arguably false, narrative within the isolated article. If Doctorow’s issues are with how YouTube’s system goes about enforcing copyright, he should write about that within his explanation of what happened here.


J.S. Bach has not been dead for 300 years.
He died in 1750.
268 years.

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