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Thread: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

  1. #1
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    Although it appears quite clear, the upload page says this:

    Important: You must own the copyright or have the necessary rights for any content you upload. [ http://www.youtube.com/t/howto_copyright ]Learn more

    And the link leads to this:

    Anytime YouTube becomes aware that a video or any part of a video on our site infringes the copyrights of a third party, we will take it down from the site as required by law.

    It seems very unclear what the actual policy is.

    Youtube also say this ( http://www.youtube.com/t/contentid ):

    What is Content ID?
    YouTube's state-of-the-art technologies let rights owners:
    • Identify user-uploaded videos comprised entirely OR partially of their content, and
    • Choose, in advance, what they want to happen when those videos are found. Make money from them. Get stats on them. Or block them from YouTube altogether.


    What they say is conflicting. They tell users not to upload copyright material, but they tell rights owners they have a choice of what to do.

    There is also this intersting article which seems to suggest Youtube is really grappling with outmoded copyright laws:

    http://brandsplusmusic.blogspot.co.u...d-youtube.html


    So Youtube may know immediately (due to their file matching Content ID technology) that you have uploaded copyright material, but they don't do anything about it unless the copyright owner tells them to. If they did actually enforce their rules (which are based on the "law") then what, 80% (?) of videos on there would be taken down?

    What concerns me is that after being a good person and paying for the appropriate (automatically granted) mechanical licence for a CD release, as well as paying for an online exploitation licence for the clips I put on my site (even though I'd probably get away without it), if I make a video of one track off that CD and want to upload it to Youtube, I am breaking a law that most people break and get away with.

    I always thought that in real life legal situations, wherever the law is a bit grey or murky, then any judge might set a ruling based on a precedent. If Youtube is setting itself up as a "judge" of what copyright infringementing videos should be allowed and which ones deleted (sometimes along with the user's whole acount), then this really pisses me off.

    As an example, I want to upload my video. It's a cover, but is radically different to the original to the extent that it's almost unrecoginsable), but on the CD I did attribute the author and pay the licence. I have tried to contact the publisher (Warner-Tamerlane) to get permission, but I got no response.

    Do I just upload it and wait to see if they are one of the companies who will make Youtube take it down and ban my account, or are they one of the companies who will be happy for the promotion and extra income for them due to increased CD sales?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    copyright is murky isn't it?

    i think it comes down to money. if an individual, as opposed to a business, posts something copyrighted, i think its often ignored and works as free advertising for the company. part of the reason is likely determination of monetary damage or profit made by the poster. its not worth paying a lawyer to go after most people. with music file sharing they didn't really fo after the posters for the most part, they went after the site like Napster. you willing to risk being the one they want to make an example of? as a business, i dont think it could possibly be worth the risk.

    my take on the policies you posted is just:
    you arent allowed to break the law
    if you do however, well contoact the content owner to see what they want to do.
    never is any mention made of what law enforcement might do.

    i figure people post so much copyrighted content that its like a hackers "denial of service" attack. there is so much it overloads the system and it shuts down.

  3. #3

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    I would upload. There are plenty of great covers out there (DirtyLoops - Baby). Worse that could happen is it gets taken down (there is an appeals process). Some studios even opt to put ads on their copyrights instead of pulling the items down. You've done all you can. Just be sure all your videos are backed up somewhere, just in case.

  4. #4
    Admin Bill Mecca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    Youtube is murky. copyright law is quite clear. that said, I believe Youtube can identify copyrighted material and it is up to the copyright owner as to what they want to happen, i.e. put ads, leave it alone or block from Utube completely. What is a royal pita with youtube is when you use legally obtained royalty-free music in your videos. Their algorithm will identify it as third party content, and depending upon the owners they may put ads. That has happened with videos I have produced for work, and our organization does not want ads on our videos it could really, really complicate things. So far the copyright owner has not opted for ads, but it could change at any time.

    I know people who take part in teh Partners program and have had issues with Utube and copyright with their original music. Utube wanted proof of what software they used to create the music and if they had the rights to use the software. So they go thru all that hassle, and Joe amatuer video guy living in his parents basement puts something up using a copyrighted tune and nothing happens at all.

    Youtube is murky.

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member CooolJazzz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    To answer more specifically about the copyright owner Pete mentioned...that's the one group who has by far the most videos removed from youtube. It seems to me that the majority of copyright holders using youtube's content identification system have chosen to automatically allow videos to remain on youtube in exchange for ads being attached. They seem to assume (correctly in my opinion) that a little advertising income is better than no income at all from youtube. WMG on the other hand seems to automatically have their content either blocked or removed in most cases. If a copyright owner allows matching content to stay on youtube in exchange for ads, it doesn't count as a strike against your youtube account. If the copyright owner chooses to have the video removed, it does count as a strike. So in the case of anything that you know is owned by WMG, I wouldn't risk it if you're seriously concerned about strikes against your account. Fat chance on getting WMG to agree on extending a license for youtube. Even if you paid for the license, there's not enough money in it for them. Like you, Pete...I once tried to do the right thing in advance by jumping through the hoops to get a license for a tune I wanted to cover. It was co-owned by WMG and another group. The second group communicated well and seemed agreeable (pending WMG's decision), but WMG never even responded to multiple contact attempts.

    Bill Mecca (and anyone else who has encountered erroneous content matches against music that you know is either original or legally obtained royalty-free)...don't hesitate to use the dispute system. It's not as complicated as they make it sound. The content identification system is far from perfect and public domain music is often misidentified. It's happened to me numerous times, and every single time I've filed a dispute. Every single time, the "content match" claim was retracted and any ads that might have been attached were removed. I've even used the dispute system a few times in "fair use" cases, where I only used a short section of copyrighted material for the purpose of critique, comparison, or education. I've won all of those disputes as well. You have to be careful about "fair use" though. Fair Use is probably the largest grey area, but there are some basic fundamental requirements that have to be met concerning how much of the original piece is used and how it's presented. If you feel confident that your use of the material genuinely fits within the fair use clause, don't hesitate to claim fair use. Just be aware that if you post a copyrighted tune in its entirety, there's no way it can be considered fair use.

  6. #6
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    Quote Originally Posted by CooolJazzz View Post
    To answer more specifically about the copyright owner Pete mentioned...that's the one group who has by far the most videos removed from youtube. It seems to me that the majority of copyright holders using youtube's content identification system have chosen to automatically allow videos to remain on youtube in exchange for ads being attached. They seem to assume (correctly in my opinion) that a little advertising income is better than no income at all from youtube. WMG on the other hand seems to automatically have their content either blocked or removed in most cases. If a copyright owner allows matching content to stay on youtube in exchange for ads, it doesn't count as a strike against your youtube account. If the copyright owner chooses to have the video removed, it does count as a strike. So in the case of anything that you know is owned by WMG, I wouldn't risk it if you're seriously concerned about strikes against your account.
    Yes, I'm aware that with Warner there is strong possibility of a "strike". I seriously doubt in this case the Content ID matching system will identify the tune so it's a risk I may take, I just wish there was a way to do this legally. As a rights owner myself I agree with the basic concept of being able to control those rights. But the law allows for the automatic licensing of cover versions for records, CDs, downloads etc., but not for videos. I think Youtube have proven that the current laws are seriously in need of overhauling.

  7. #7
    Admin Bill Mecca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    I've used the dispute system, recently had someone download and re upload to their own channel a video I produced for a client. only took a few days, but the client in question is a real estate agent and we were in the process of re-editing his video because he changed agencies. A clear case where we need to control the rights, plus the fact there are specific rules regarding real estate advertising in th states.

    I think "overhaul" might be too strong a word, update or tweak might be better.

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010 harmonizerNJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    I am aware of 2 separate issues which relate to what Pete has brought up:

    1) I have been critical of Youtube making money hand over fist, largely by acting as the largest storehouse of copyright violations on the planet. Just about any popular song you can think of is available on youtube (without ads!) in multiple copies, and with pretty good audio quality. Youtube has been smart enough over the last few years to at least respond to removal requests from copyright owners, so they would not suffer the fate of the original Napster. The biggest problem is that the culture of the Internet creates an environment where artists are dependent on the good will of the public to like them and buy their creations, and do not want to become the "bad guy", so it becomes dangerous for them to exert their rights.

    If youtube is now stepping up to make it easier for copyrights to be enforced, and to do so without putting as much burden on the artist or even the corporate copyright holder, than I applaud youtube for doing so. It is unfortunate if there is unclear language on youtube's site about their policies, and I hope they fix this quickly.

    2) I believe there is a difference between mechanical licensing (which allows you to distribute *audio* copies electronically or via CD of a cover song you perform, if you pay the proper fees), and video sync rights. So if you pay the mechanical licensing the Doobie Brothers "Listen to the Music", and your license covers 20,000 copies, you still don't have the right to upload a video of your band covering that song, even if way less than 20,000 people view it on Youtube (someone please correct me if I have this wrong). I guess you *could* in this case still upload a video which included that audio track or your band playing the cover song, but instead shows a video of your kids playing in the park.

    I personally don't understand why there is any more value due to the composer for a video showing a band performing a cover of their song, than for an audio recording of their composition, since the value the composer contributed is the same in both cases. I have heard it is difficult to acquire video sync rights to a cover song. I'll bet Pete knows a lot more about this than I do.

    It would be a very cool thing if Youtube were to have some sort of joint venture with Harry Fox agency where video sync rights could be acquired by someone who is uploading a video of a covers band performing someone else's composition. This would sort of like a reverse iTunes. Such a registration (and payment) could even include the information on how many "views" were purchased by the uploader, and would make a boatload of money for the copyright holders.

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Member CooolJazzz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    It's easy to understand why there's a difference between audio rights (the right to distribute a specified number of CD copies) and video rights for display on places like youtube. The monetary return for CD distribution is much more tangible and accountable. There is no tangible monetary return for youtube other than advertising income, and there's no limit to how many viewers might see it so it's not accountable. Times have changed however. It used to be that radio exposure was what sold albums or CD's. Youtube has taken the place of radio in that regard. The main difference now is that it's so much easier to download audio from youtube than it ever was to make decent stereo copies of radio broadcasts, so there's legitimate reason to doubt whether youtube exposure is significantly responsible for increased CD sales or just another way for the public to access the music for free. There's no turning back the page though. The internet and the ability to download music is here to stay. The only real option is to find the best way of monetizing the internet exposure, or trying to block it the way WMG does. I suspect those who opt to monetize it rather than block it will have the most financial success in the long run. (I would love to see WMG's greed lead to their total collapse eventually).

    Pete...you probably know this, but as far as a recording being "different" enough from the original as to being practically unidentifiable by the content identification system...even typing in the name of the tune or using it in any of the tags is enough for the content identification system to flag it. If you uploaded an entirely original tune with the title "My Funny Valentine", chances are that it would get flagged for a copyright infringement even if the tune was nowhere close to the original My Funny Valentine. The system looks not only for actual content matches, but also for text matches in the title, descriptions, and tags.

  10. #10
    SOTW Administrator hakukani's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    When anyone talks to me about copyright, I steer them to these videos:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJn_jC4FNDo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tWhKeb-fUQ
    Sound guy theory of relativity: E=mc^2 (+or- 3dB)
    Sax player theory of relativity: E=mc^2 (+or- .010" at the tip)
    "Free jazz is the vegemite of the musical world. It's an acquired taste."-J. Jacques

  11. #11
    Admin Bill Mecca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    Granted it's been a few years, but last time I contacted HFA about video sync rights for a documentary, they told me they don't handle those rights, I would have to contact the copyright holder directly. that may have changed, but what is needed is a clearinghouse for the video sync rights like we have with HFA for audio. I believe there has been something worked out with wedding videographers being able to buy a blanket license or something similar, as the brides always want their favorite song with their pictures, and don't (or refuse to) understand the copyright issue. disclaimer: I don't do weddings and am only passing along what I remember hearing.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    Ok all that said an it is the law but i still think its stupid to think someone owns the right to a sequence of notes or anything termed "intellectual property". all thats just about making money and driving out the competition. i figure people should be required to keep having new thoughts. not have a couple of good ones and be able to collect on it 20 yrs. I think it also stifles further innovation on idea because they will be deemed to still be close enough to claim copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property. it generally just protects big corporations in my opinion.

    I suspect thats not very popular with a lot of people but we shall see by future posts.

  13. #13
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    Quote Originally Posted by alljoe View Post
    Ok all that said an it is the law but i still think its stupid to think someone owns the right to a sequence of notes or anything termed "intellectual property". all thats just about making money and driving out the competition. i figure people should be required to keep having new thoughts. not have a couple of good ones and be able to collect on it 20 yrs. I think it also stifles further innovation on idea because they will be deemed to still be close enough to claim copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property. it generally just protects big corporations in my opinion.

    I suspect thats not very popular with a lot of people but we shall see by future posts.
    I think it wouldn't be popular with people who make a living as a composer. I certainly would not be able to have done so without the protection of the copyright laws we have. Not that I think they are ideal, as is indicated by this thread.

    I think many people do think that only the big corporations get rich from the laws, but in reality they also mean that it can composing can be a worthwhile profession to pursue.

    Copyright laws do not say that anybody "owns" a series of notes, this is a common misconception. Only when that series of notes is a recognisable creative work does that law stipulate who currently has the right to copy (that's what the word copyright means, not ownership)

    It's an intriguing topic, though probably best covered units own thread as its not very relevant to this one I think.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    well, you seem to be u on this. if you go to a public park for a concert and there isn't any info posted about not taking video. is it illegal to video someone playing and post it to you tube? like school bands? is it different making it private or unlisted on u-tube?

    ive also wondered the same thing on these little sound bites people post.

    should this be a different thread? on just youtube copyright in general?

  15. #15
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    If you video a school band, I think you ought to get permission of the players. If they are children, get permission from them and/or their parents.

    If the music they are playing is copyright, then you should get permission from the publisher. But as you can see form my original post, it's all a grey area.

    Many people do upload cover versions and more often than not they get away with it. Any illegality is an infringement of copyright, it's not as if the police will come knocking on your door - it's more a civil action which is not likely (unless you are involved in large scale piracy of copyrights)

    But it's important to know that any piece of recorded music usually has two main types of copyright:

    The copyright in the music, ie the melody (unless the tune is old enough to be in the public domain)
    The copyright in the recording. To own a copyright in the recording you (the person making the recording/video) needs permission from the performers.

    I don't know the implications of it being private. It certainly infringes Youtube's terms to upload copyright material, but if it is unlisted, nobody would ever know.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    so does having a recording for yourself infringe on the same copyrights? it seems it would.

    how old does it have to be to loose copyright?

    i personally think that permission to record is implied in performing in public. if you dont want it, rent a concert hall and control access, post signs, etc.

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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    I know that Southampton is almost half a world away from Arkansas in both geography and law. But I was raise in a logging family. And when I was about 10 years old, my daddy told me that there was actually no way to haul logs legally. But someone has to do it or the world would quickly run out of wood.

    And it seems that in a world with too many regulations, this applies to just anything worth doing.
    Good Luck,

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  18. #18
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    Quote Originally Posted by alljoe View Post
    i personally think that permission to record is implied in performing in public. if you dont want it, rent a concert hall and control access, post signs, etc.
    Maybe it is with some people, but I'm not sure everyone would agree. What I'm saying is I think its only polite to ask before videoing anyone, and especially before making that video public (though I realise you are discussing a private video on Youtube).

  19. #19
    Distinguished SOTW Member CooolJazzz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    For the record, the content identification system at youtube (and facebook) works the same regardless of whether the video is uploaded as public, private, or unlisted. It doesn't have to be seen by anyone for the automated system to flag it. This is different of course for copyright owners who haven't subscribed to the content identification system. If you record someone in the park playing their own original tune, the only way they can claim copyright infringement is if they happen to see or find out about the video. If you didn't have permission to video it and distribute it (even privately on youtube) It's still copyright infringement whether they see it or not.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Youtube copyright policy on cover versions

    well, i expect cool is right about the legalities. it just seems stupid to me. it a shame legal systems are set up like they are. i think this is only a recent history thing too. when i was in school people brought recorders and video cameras all the time and you never heard any of this kind of stuff.

    in this case i thought a lot of the other parents might be interested in hearing how their kids are doing. the event being on a work day and school day caused almost no one to be watching. maybe 5 people per band. probably mostly the chaperones for the trip. youd never get all the people to consent i suspect. and after looking at it again, the director might object. in trying to zoom in enough to the front row kids faces i wound up witha lot of conductor behind video. most of the other kids just see the tops of their heads over the stands.

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