YouTube Kills Livestream Of Convention When Audience Starts Singing 'Happy Birthday'

from the more-territorial-pissing-from-warner-music dept

Nothing kills an event hosted by YouTube (and other streaming services) quicker than a spontaneous rendition of the song everyone sings when it’s someone’s birthday, but yet somehow “belongs” solely to Warner Music. Granted, this didn’t actually kill CitizenCon 2013, an event put together by RSI (Roberts Space Industries), the company behind persistent MMO Star Citizen (which is still in development), for its fans.

Wesha sends in a short note pointing out that YouTube killed the stream a little over an hour in because the crowd sang Happy Birthday to one of the team members. (“Infringement” begins at approximately 1:02:00.)


The recording of the event has been uploaded with the offending tune removed, a tune that should be in the public domain by this point. RSI learned via YouTube’s content bot patrol that the song clearly isn’t public domain, at least as far as Warner Music and YouTube are concerned, even if there are strong legal challenges to the song’s copyright status.

The uploaded video contains a short note about the suddenly-disappearing stream and has replaced the familiar birthday tune with something even more forgettable — a light-jazz guitar piece that sounds like a rejected cut from the latest “Now That’s What I Call NPR Bumper Music!” compilation.

So, Warner Music and YouTube safely prevented anyone viewing the stream from hearing an unlicensed version of a song familiar to millions and sung by the “original” artists almost never.

But should Warner Music be happy with this swift response? I assume it is. There’s really nothing to be gained from the song at this point but ill-gotten licensing fees. If it lets one unlicensed use slip by, everyone else will be looking for the same treatment. There’s no market to expand here and no new fans of the Hill sisters “work” (even though it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t written by the Hill sisters) to be gained.

On the other hand, overly-zealous bot patrols could very easily damage a future market. Tim K sends in this story of an eight-year-old Kanye West track climbing the charts thanks to a viral video featuring his song “Gone.”

Kanye West debuts on the Hot 100 this week with a song that’s eight years old. “Gone” (featuring Cam’ron and Consequence), from West’s 2005 sophomore album “Late Registration,” starts at No. 18 after a YouTube clip featuring the song as a backing track went viral…

The song’s revival started when Marina Shifrin, a writer and comedian, quit her job as a video editor by creating a video for her boss in which she dances around her deserted office (at 4:30 a.m.) to the appropriately-themed “Gone.”

The video racked up 15 million views and West’s track climbed into the top 20 (of the Hot 100 chart), nearly a decade after its release. Had the bots been as aggressively “trained” as Warner’s birthday patrol, West’s track would have remained where it was — an eight-year-old track with a very limited market.


Sure, this isn’t quite as heartwarming as a small indie artist hitting it big thanks to internet virality, but it does go to show that aggressive responses to infringement can damage future sales. If nothing else, it further lines West’s pockets, possibly moving him closer to his dream of speedily delivered croissants.

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Companies: roberts space industries, warner music, youtube

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Comments on “YouTube Kills Livestream Of Convention When Audience Starts Singing 'Happy Birthday'”

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43 Comments
out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Return of FAKE out_of_the_blue!

In the total absence of action by Mike Masnick — to whom I repeat my objections at this fakery — I resume measures against. Now, IF you repeat or fake the time stamp, kids, you are outside of protected free speech, and into deliberate fraud.


“The new Google privacy policy is: You have no privacy.”07:39:26[i-522-8]

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Return of FAKE out_of_the_blue!

Now, IF you repeat or fake the time stamp, kids, you are outside of protected free speech, and into deliberate fraud.

Hilarious!


“Some dumb random off-topic sentence here.” 08:32:26[q-785-4]

BTW: I am exercising my free speech rights by posting my very own timestamp complete with my very own random characters and numbers and that is not “fraud” in any way, shape or form. Sorry Bucko, you don’t get to make up the rules as you go along.

Any Mouse says:

Youtube actually did that live stream a favor when they killed it. The system was completely bogged down, the lag was so bad that those of us watching didn’t know that the stream was killed until an hour after the event was over. The redacted bit is at one hour in, the stream made it to 40 mins.

All that being said it’s reprehensible that warner still has control over a 100+ year old song.

PaulT (profile) says:

I love the two extremes here, and they really demonstrate the nuances of the argument to anyone too biased/dumb to realise that it’s the nature of the *enforcement* of the copyrights that’s the major problem, not the copyright itself. Copyright is pretty broken, I agree, but it’s this part of it that needs the most work.

First, we have something which is totally unrelated, not only to Warner but to the music industry itself being shut down because a “copyright violation” had taken place. There’s all sorts of arguments here, ranging from the fact that Happy Birthday has no right to being under copyright in the first place to the great illustration of just how hard it is to live life in modern society without inadvertently breaking copyright law. But, ultimately, nobody gains anything from it. No sale of the song has been rescued by the shutdown and nobody’s royalties paid. Only somebody else’s (presumably) copyrightable footage being blocked because some people sang.

On the other extreme, the Kanye example shows how even big name artists can benefit from having their song heard by a different audience. Shutting down non-commercial usage of a song (even if it’s a clear case of copyright) can cause the loss of the worst thing the industry can lose – a fan that didn’t know they were one. It’s worth bearing in mind that the song in question was not released as a single, so if they weren’t already Kanye fans and thus listened to the album, the video might be the first time they’d ever heard the song. While exposure is a great help to new and unknown artists, even the biggest stars have undiscovered gems in their catalogues or can gain fans by having the song in a different context to normal.

This is why we need a more nuanced debate, not just people on the pro-industry side (sadly not just limited to internet trolls) accusing anyone who disagrees with the status quo as being pirates. Many of us were talking about the things these examples represent before YouTube even existed.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is such a non-story. We’ve got someone who was actually watching the stream saying it conked out way before the song. So it wasn’t “killed” at all, sure it was edited afterwards but that’s a totally different thing.
The Kanye track is clearly credited twice on that video – once in the title and again in a link to iTunes, so no surprises that people who liked it bought it.

Any Mouse says:

The discrepancy between the stream cutting at 40 min and the fact that Happy Birthday was at the 1 hour mark is because Youtube dropped 20 min of the stream. The live stream skipped 3-4 presentations. The video jumped from the tail end of one presentation and picked up halfway through the into of another, it was easy to miss with all the problems that the stream had.

The stuff that was skipped was actually rather cool.

Vidiot (profile) says:

Same melody, different lyrics

Ahh, but would the YouTube detector-bot kill the stream if the audience sang “Good Morning, Dear Teacher” instead?
I’ve been at conferences where they play that song in honor of someone’s birthday, and invite the audience to sing whatever lyrics occur to them. Legal for the conference organizers, since it wasn’t subject to the Copyright extension Act in 1976; and suborning 450 individual cases of infringement. Go get ’em, boys.

AbsolutGrndZer0 says:

The person who wrote the song is dead. IF anyone has a right to claim copyright, it should be the descendants of the person who wrote it, but Warner Bros. shouldn’t be able to claim copyright on the song itself, only the version sung by their artist(s) and by that I mean the actual recording. But, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why I shouldn’t be able to upload a video of ME singing Happy Birthday to a friend, the fact that I can’t is just a red flag on how insane American copyright laws have gotten.

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