Rumblefish CEO Paul Anthony has been suffering through his own, private hell for the past few days. And here's why: over the weekend, YouTube's Content ID system falsely flagged a video as having music that belonged to Rumblefish, even though that video contained no music at all. Rumblefish reviewed the claim, determined it was indeed valid, then only reversed that decision after a huge backlash was brewing. By that point, there was full-blown outrage on Slashdot and Reddit, among other places, mostly directed at Rumblefish and Anthony himself.
It's hard to see how anyone could claim copyright on background bird-chirping (though check out the first comment). As you can see, the video has birds lightly chirping in the background, and that's it. Still, the author was dragged into the rigmarole and forced to contest the problem through multiple channels before it was ultimately reinstated.
Sounds like an unfortunate hiccup, though the author of this clip was almost unable to reclaim the video. And, only after going outside the system and triggering a freakishly viral response was the claim rescinded. "They checked the video, and told YouTube that there was no mistake, and that they do own the music in the video. So the dispute was closed, and there was seemingly nothing else I could do," the vegan naturalist author 'eeplox' explained. "But I wrote an article about it on Slashdot, and somehow it went viral today, spreading all over the web, and Rumblefish backtracked, released my video and sent me an apology."
Both YouTube and Rumblefish screwed this up, though Anthony identified two distinct points of failure: (1) the YouTube Content ID match, which was obviously false; and (2) the decision to uphold that false claim by Rumblefish. "The significant, significant majority of claims and disputes that are brought to our attention are resolved same day in an appropriate and accurate manner," Anthony told Digital Music News. "We hold ourselves to a high standard but can always improve the process."
We've seen situations like this before, though with far less viral drama. Just recently, for example, a slow-motion, instructional crochet video with no music was flagged and removed by Warner Music Group, probably the result of 'intern error'. Others on Google's support board pointed to lots of other misses, though in reality, these do seem like fringe cases that are typically resolved. The only problem is that for users like 'eeplox,' it required extraordinary effort and luck to get the problem solved - and we're not sure how many similar videos were simply buried.
Written while listening to Bassnectar, Junior Jack, Swedish House Mafia, and some chirping birds.
Steven Corn (BFM Digital) Tuesday, February 28, 2012
This is a big problem with YT's content ID system. We manage 10,000's sound effects and 10,000's classical recordings (amongst others) thru this system. Each poses an oddly similar problem.
People forget that a recording of a sound or music can have its own copyright. So a recording of a bird, a gunshot, waterfall, etc. can be a protected copyright as far as the sound recording is concerned. The same thing applies to classical music. While the underlying composition may be public domain (as is the sound effect), the recording is usually never public domain.
Youtube's Content ID system is designed to protect the copyright holder's rights whether it eminates from the composition or the recording. That is why a publisher AND a label can both make a claim on a particular video. They are each asserting their respective copyrights.
With sound effects, there is the general assumption that there is no copyright at play. But with our sound effects content providers, they all have SR copyrights protecting their particular recordings.
Ideally YT's content ID should be able to distinguish between my recording of a bird and someone else's. But if it's very similar (as are two identical recordings of the same species of birds), a mismatch can occur.
If a match occurs and then the video uploader refutes it, YT's system should defaul to that claim being take down automatically after a certain period of time (10 days?) unless the owner/administrator reasserts the claim.
BFM's policy (I can't speak for Rumblefish, of course) is that we always let any claim on sound effects expire. We do not reassert such claims. It's more a matter of public good will than anything else. So far, it's been a policy that works for us and we've have very few problems.
For classical recordings, we are less forgiving. We generally reassert most classical music claims because the music usually has a more critical role in the video than a sound effect. Users typically are just completely misinformed about the PD nature of classical recordings and we feel that it is our fidicuiary responsibility to pursue these claims.
As for the birds, we just let the chirps continue unabated.
Ben Patterson Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Excellent analysis by Steve here. The YT Content ID system is remarkably sophisticated and fast given the volume of content uploaded every minute. There is a huge misconception about public domain, and DashGo's policy for our much more limited SFX and classical catalogs are pretty much the same as BFMs. We also have issues where clients use PD film footage in videos that then trigger claims and we make every effort to release immediately and to re-classify client content like that to avoid matching 3rd party uploads. I only wish more users who run into this issue, especially when the side effect is a typically a few days of adsense overlay ads, would have a bit more measured patience. The fractions of a penny generated by YT streams don't exactly make it easy to afford a 24-7 customer support staff to address, and I have personally dealt with most of the indie and major folks who manage these policies, usually one person with many other hats on - and all are genuinely respectful of user generated content rights and correcting any mis-matched claims.
James Tuesday, February 28, 2012
A copyright mistake over a home video about salad = mega outrage, goes viral
Millions of copyright-infringing works everywhere = no one gives a crap
Certainly in an ideal world this shouldn't have happened. But the melodramatic hand-wringing of the Reddit crowd is ridiculous, as usual. Ultimately the problem was rectified and an apology was issued, as it should have been. Now, if we could only get the same deal from everyone who has ever pirated music.
NathanJE Tuesday, February 28, 2012
It's what it represents. It's total Big Brother b/c they had the power. Rumblefish is the same as a SOPA wielding gov't in this case.
poor baby Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Want to know what Big Brother is? Google and Facebook.
Don't like Big Brother? Don't use those two companies' websites.
Simple as that.
Paul Anthony Tuesday, February 28, 2012
To be clear, the video was never in jeapordy of being taken down. Rumblefish, can't speak for others, only monetizes videos that we represent on the YouTube system, we do not block videos. Of course, many content providers do, just not us.
Also, the video poster simply used the dispute resolution process provided by YouTube, although they were upset about the mis-ID, it didn't take long to correct the problem. Once we were aware of the mistake, it was corrected in a matter of hours on a Sunday evening.
There are well over 5 million online videos that use our artists music as soundtracks. This type of case is an outlyer, but the system is not perfect and mistakes happen. It's very important to us to respond quickly and diligently in those cases.
Paul Anthony | Founder & CEO | Rumblefish
paul Tuesday, February 28, 2012
That's an important distinction, thanks Paul.
Econ Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I just want to know if the bird was compensated or if the label is ripping him off.
mdti Wednesday, February 29, 2012
No, because the label reminded that it was because of an intern....
mdti Wednesday, February 29, 2012
instructional crochet video with no music was flagged and removed by Warner Music Group, probably the result of 'intern error'
The world is being run by interns nowadays... that's why it doesn't run very well and has lots of hiccups.... Thanks to Warner Music to bring this to our attention...
@CuadernosdeJAZZ Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Intellectual property laws gone wild: How can anyone claim copyright on background bird-chirping?
@Leo_Kellgren Wednesday, February 29, 2012
From now on I own the copyright on dogs crying.
John Friday, March 02, 2012
The sound recording copyright to birds chirping or dogs crying makes sense because of the way in which the sound was captured is unique to the person doing the recording. For example, f you hold a mic 2 inches in front of a bird you get a totally different sound than 2 feet in front of a bird. While no one will ever get a copyright on birds chirping or dogs crying, they get the copyright on the particular sound recording of that naturally occurring event.