Video of 10 hours of white noise has 5 copyright claims

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this is my all-time favorite white noise video. It helped me survive a colicky first child, and is still helping us through child number 2. I edited it up to 13.5 hours though, as it had a bad habit of winding down in the wee hours of the morning…I’ve given my mp3 rip/edit as a gift at a couple workplace baby showers. I’m surprised the air conditioner manufacturer hasn’t been offered an ad deal.


Let’s upload 4:33 of silence and wait for the John Cage estate to sue!


Musician Mike Batt had paid a six-figure sum to settle a bizarre dispute over who owns copyright to a silent musical work.

Batt, who had a number of hits in the 70s with UK children’s characters The Wombles, was accused of plagiarism by the publishers of the late US composer John Cage, after placing a silent track on his latest album, Classical Graffiti which was credited to himself and Cage.

“I thought for my own amusement it would be funny to call it something so I called it A Minute’s Silence and credited it as track 13 and put my name as Batt/Cage, as a tongue-in-cheek dig at the John Cage piece,” he said.

An awfully expensive joke.


I’ve been using white noise to help sleeping for over 30 years. One like this works just fine.

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And that…got play in a court? Are they insane?

Somebody managed to copyright silence?!


Living close, but not too close, to a freeway works too…

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I’d hate to be on that jury.

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Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss – there. can I copyright?



That’s nice, but I prefer to listen to this all night long:


Hello darkness, my old friend.


On the bright side, since all these entities have attempted to monetize the video, none of them actually get anything out of it, as Jim Sterling figured out about a year ago.

Not a lawyer but there’s different types of copyright.

Although true white noise is random, a recording of white noise is not. And although the white noise wouldn’t be copyrightable, I suspect a particular instance of white noise recording could be copyrighted as a recorded work.

So if the 10 hour recording contains sequences identical to another white noise recording, I guess a claim could be legitimate.

For example if I downloaded the audio to this 10-Hour video and reposted it with different visuals that’d be a derivative work. But if I generated and recorded 10 hours of white noise it would be an original work.

But I’d bet cash money that’s not the case here.


This is my favorite arrangement of John Cage’s copyrighted original work 4’33". I am certain that the John Cage Estate will appreciate this, so please share it. eta: Freely!


Given the lengths that ContentID is identifying as a match, that’s seems unlikely. White noise soon becomes a vast space – a random 8- or 16-bit number thousands of times a second.

What you say would make perfect (and hilarious) sense if they were claiming, say, three milliseconds of the track.

My giess is that ContentID scans extremely lossy-compressed versions of each track to make it computationally cheap to do it for every upload. So it’s not really matching white noise at all, but the bizarre warbling it turns into when overcompressed.


I’d better copyright the constant (and not terribly loud, thankfully) high-pitched whine in my brain’s ear, lest I end up paying some noxious squatter for the right to keep being subjected to it.


The issue is that John Cage had already recorded a silent track on an earlier work. When Mike Batt recorded his own silent track, he listed John Cage as one of the authors. He meant it as a joke or nod of appreciation, but the John Cage estate felt otherwise.


IANAL either but… " The sine qua non of copyright is originality." 499 U.S. 340 Now a degree of randomness is often a part of a copyrighted work, but in a work that is so completely dominated by randomness, we have to fall back on the selection rather than the creation. Unless the author pored through many, many hours of “white noise” to select this particular sample as expressing something particular, I don’t believe that there is a case here…
Keep in mind that in Corel v. Bridgeman Art Library, a photograph of a two dimensional work of art was ruled to fall short of the level of originality required under Feist v. Rural telephone. This would seem to involve an even lesser degree of originality.