So, the Major Labels Just Blocked the Democratic National Convention on YouTube

YouTube brushed it off as a simple error, while scrambling to reinstate the footage into the wee hours.

But is there a bigger issue related to wrongful takedowns by major copyright owners here – including the major labels?

This is what the YouTube channel for the Democratic National Convention looked like Tuesday night, as screen-grabbed by one disappointed viewer.  This happened after the live-stream, for those wishing to view just-aired content.

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Here’s another as captured by GigaOm…

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The answer from major content owners and YouTube is typically this: most identifications and subsequent takedowns are accurate, while just a small percentage are in error.  The only problem is that we have no idea what those percentages are, and YouTube transparency is often cloudy.  On top of that, we’ve also seen examples in which bullying demands by content ‘partners’ have led to completely wrongful takedowns, with YouTube’s eyes wide open.

That includes a recent, pre-raid showdown involving MegaUpload and the ‘MegaUpload Song,’ which featured multiple celebrities and documented contracts with major-signed artists like will.i.am.   MegaUpload is hardly a model citizen of the internet, but when it came to the MegaUpload Song promotion, it looks like its deals were done fair-and-square.  Yet, somehow Universal Music used its YouTube hotline to down the video without any consultation with the other side, and in a subsequently leaked letter, claimed that its takedown abilities go beyond the mere presence of copyrighted material.

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Is This Thing Broken? Why YouTube Flagged a Music-free Video for Infringement…

Sounds like an environment of copyright bullying that can easily get out of control.  But that includes any YouTube certified content partner, not just the major labels.  For example, Rumblefish, a company that wrongly flagged a video for illegally using a copyright-protected track of…. bird chirping.  The only problem is that these were actual birds chirping in the downed video, not a protected recording, yet the owner of the naturalist clip found it nearly impossible to voice his objections.  That is, until his Reddit plea unexpectedly went viral, and somehow forced YouTube and Rumblefish to reinstate the video’s status.

All of which makes you wonder how many cases never see the light of day, and never have the benefit of viral outrage.  And, aren’t accounted for in YouTube’s ‘vast majority’ defense.

Written while listening to The Helio Sequence.  

16 Responses

  1. Visitor

    Google and so Youtube pigs are as dangerous as the MAFIAA censorship.

    In fact I believe Youtube (much like Google) has been corrupting it’s policy, takedown system, view counters etc…in order to please political and corporate agendas.

    A clearly racist propaganda video is never taken down even after 1000s of reporting, while some video are unrightfully disabled on false copyright claim in a few minutes like this one.

    Youtube IS a propaganda tool, and it’s not surprising.

    • Visitor

      There is a pretty simple explanation. Racist youtube videos are not illegal. A video with copyrighted music or video content is. Hosting a video with copyrighted content and not taking it down makes Google liable. Therefore they take the shoot-first ask-later approach. That’s just how it is.

  2. Brooke Wentz

    Yes, This is a big deal! We had a client launch a new product today and pay big bucks for the music in the video and it was immediately taken down. They must present the paperwork and it’s not easy. YouTube has got a situation on their hands that they need to suss through and figure out FAST!

    Ad agencies are paying much more for music streaming rigths in the pieces and then YouTube takes it down. They loose time.

  3. goddamnutube

    So you are Google/YouTube and hate you were forced to implement digital fingerprinting and content id system by that god damn Viacom lawsuit. How dare those copyright holders expect us monitor and pay up for their copyright material.

    So you know what – mess with their heads. Take down a few videos here and there, blame them record companies, the RIAA, WMG, Harry Fox whatever. You know, high profile videos are good, politics especially, that’ll get the YouTube users talking about those god damn record companies and how they are fucked-up, how they abuse their power. We’ll show those god damn record companies. We’ll create a firestorm of protest over them and make them so unpopular they’ll think twice before filing any DMCA take-down notices.

    • Myles na Gopaleen

      Sarcasm aside, I think the “mess with their heads” approach might backfire and the pressure could be applied the other way.

      RIAA could say: “We are using the system set up by youTube to comply with the DMCA. If youTube wants to use an automated contentID system that occasionally removes legal material then that’s their problem. Either DMCA needs to change or youTube has to change their system. Maybe they could hire hundreds of employees to evaluate each takedown notice to determine it’s validity and merit.”

    • Rapcoalition

      Um, they already ARE extremely unpopular. Haven’t you noticed? That approach has not worked.

  4. Central Scrutinizer

    Maybe some good will come of this.

    Maybe youTube might realize that the system needs to be fixed.

    Maybe RIAA and major labels will stop embarrasing themselves.

    Maybe pigs will fly and snowball fights will break out in hell

    What is guaranteed to happen is this – nothing – nothing will change because there is no financial incentive to change nor punishment (legally or finacially) if they don’t change.

  5. David

    And still a much more inspiring message than the video that would have taken it’s place.

  6. Herman V

    Conspiracy theories abound again… 🙁

    Most YouTube takedowns are automatic. The labels upload their music to Content ID, and set a policy for what YouTube should do when someone else uploads a video with their music.

    The majors appear to have a default policy of “takedown”. So when someone uploads a video with music from one of the majors, it’s automatically going to get taken down.

    Nobody hit any button to specifically request a takedown of this particular video.

    It’s actually good to see that it doesn’t matter whether that user is some nobody from a small village in the darkest regions of Africa, or the party behind the President of the United States…

    BTW: The ‘takedown’ default of the majors is in my opinion somewhat silly. As an independent label group, we instad have a default policy of “monetise”. Our attitude: “Yes, please people, do create a nice video around one of our tracks, put it on YouTube, and share it with all your friends on Facebook. We’ll get a few pennies for it from YouTube, but YouTube will then also display title and artist for the track and a few buy-links. Thank you for promoting our track!”. But that’s not how the major labels see it…

  7. @diymediaservice

    This is just plain dumb. Blocking the DNC? Not a great idea.

  8. mdti

    automatic censorship… that doesn’t make it less illegal and unjustifiable in a so called modern state with strong legal framework…..

    or get used to be dominated by “big brother” (not the lousy TV show that made the words “big brother” meaningless and harmless, the one from 1984….).