One Direction Offers Remix Competition, Then Sony/Soundcloud Punish The Entrants As Copyright Infringers

from the that'll-teach-'em dept

Soundcloud has been having some issues of late trying to “balance” (stupid word, but we’ll get to that) the interests of copyright holders and people who use its platform for remixes. Soundcloud — a site that is essentially a YouTube for audio, and which has long been a key place for DJs and remixers to upload their crafts — has been going back and forth with an angry recording industry for a few years, trying to appease the industry, often by defaulting to the “take it down!” side of the ledger to avoid lawsuits. There was a big kerfuffle a year ago when Soundcloud gave more power to the labels to take content down from its service. However, in the last few months things have gotten much crazier, as Soundcloud clearly ratcheted up its takedown procedures leading to many vocal complaints from angry Soundcloud users. We’ve even seen the company tell someone that “fair use” is no defense, since fair use is only in the US and Soundcloud is available globally. That’s beyond troubling for a variety of reasons, and as someone who pays Soundcloud to host our Techdirt podcasts, it has me concerned and looking for alternatives.

But even getting beyond the fair use question, things are getting even more ridiculous. TorrentFreak has the story of a UK-producer and songwriter named Lee Adams who took part in an official remix competition of boy band One Direction’s music, put on by the band and its label, Sony Music. The stems for remixing were released on Soundcloud. The rules of the contest required entrants to upload their remixes on Soundcloud… and that’s exactly what Adams did. And yet those works still got taken down via copyright claims from Sony Music as infringing.

Hey, Sony Music, if you want people to participate in your remix contests, maybe don’t accuse them of being infringers when they do?

In this case, it’s even more ridiculous, because it initially happened during the contest period, held last year, and Adams reached out to everyone and finally got the work reinstated. As Adams told TorrentFreak:

?I messaged SoundCloud back saying it was part of a remix contest. Then they told me that doesn?t mean I own the copyright,? Lee says.

?I then explained that if the stems had been put out by the record company officially, then they had given permission. They still argued that I didn?t own the copyright.?

Undeterred, Lee contacted the company running the competition on Sony?s behalf.

?As it was only a couple of days before the contest closed, I emailed TalentHouse themselves to see if they could do anything,? Lee explains.

?They were very good and after a couple of emails SoundCloud reinstated my track. Interestingly, TalentHouse made the comment that ?this kind of thing happens all the time with SoundCloud?.?

All good, right? Nope. Because with the latest expansion of Soundcloud takedowns, Adams finds himself back in the same situation again:

It’s great that labels like Sony are embracing “remixing” as a legitimate form of expression by holding contests like this in the first place, but issuing takedowns on people who enter seems kind of backwards, doesn’t it? And then they wonder why no one “respects” copyright any more?

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Companies: sony, sony music, soundcloud, talenthouse

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Comments on “One Direction Offers Remix Competition, Then Sony/Soundcloud Punish The Entrants As Copyright Infringers”

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32 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

so...

Like what where people expecting?

Go ahead keep giving these find folks your money and stop complaining about it when you get what you get. Everything that will happen to you in the recording industry is so well documented and easy to predict its almost like we should be holding these folks liable the same way we hold money mules liable.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Only because they aren’t educated on the matter.

Spin copyright as ‘protecting artists and ensuring that they get paid’, and most people are likely to agree that copyright is a good thing.

Point out that current copyright means nothing created during a person’s lifetime will enter the public domain until decades after they’re dead, if ever… point out the numerous examples where copyright maximalists have forced a ‘shoot first, ask only when sued’ mindset on multiple sites, leading to innocent people having their stuff removed… point out that copyright law as it currently stands means that stuff people do every day, like sharing an interesting song/picture with a friend is legally considered worse than stealing a car as far as punishments go…

Educate people, and any ‘respect’ they had for the law is likely to go up in smoke.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Considering there are millions of artists that support copyright and the protections it provides them

Which might be a valid argument, if a) I believed for a second the ‘millions’ claim, and, and more importantly, b) copyright existed solely for creators, and wasn’t meant to ultimately benefit the public by allowing more things to enter the public domain where they could be built off of for the next branch of creativity, something currently copyright utterly fails at.

tracyanne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Artist respect for copyright

Mine is such that I release all my music under a CC BY NC license. If any of the Corporate Media people think my work is good enough for them to make money from they can come beg me for a licence to do so. Everyone else is free to use it, copy it and make derivatives.

There’s nothing in that license that stops me from making money from my work.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Considering there are millions of artists that support copyright and the protections it provides them…”

Your “millions” claim is completely without basis or merit. What we do see is a small, vocal minority of historically successful artists like Metallica, Don Henley, Prince, Paul McGuiness, etc, who got stupidly rich by winning the big label lottery back when labels had a stranglehold on the supply of recorded music, complaining that the millions don’t flow in like they used to.

“…I’ll take their word for it, rather than some tech douchebag that whores himself out to a mega-corporation like Google.”

Your definition of “whoring” yourself out is interesting. You base this stupid claim on the fact the Mike once used Google’s facilities, and nothing else. And yet the term seems far more accurate when applied to artists who sign multi-year, multi-album deals with record labels who pay them literally nothing and keep complete control of their creative output. Sounds far more like a pimp/whore relationship to me.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Considering there are millions of artists that support copyright and the protections it provides them, I’ll take their word for it, rather than some tech douchebag that whores himself out to a mega-corporation like Google.

Disney has based many of its most successful movies on public domain stories. How much material has Disney contributed to the public domain for others to use?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The vast majority of the people on earth have no problem respecting copyright.”

Then, why are your heroes claiming massive losses due to piracy if most people don’t do it? Surely, this would be a minor issue if what you said was true?

“However if you want to speak for just the douchebags that don’t, keep on keepin’ on.”

Funny, I’m seeing an article about people who did respect copyright but still got falsely accused of illegal activity, caused by a system put specifically in place at the demand of record labels to protect copyright.

Where are the people who did not respect copyright in this article? Are you hallucinating again?

Anonymous Coward says:

Global Fair Use

Woah…does that mean unless a law is valid in EVERY country it is possible to take down the track just because?

That’s crazy! Think about a TD podcast that might violate some i.e. North Korean law, bam! taken down. The rest of the world isn’t allowed to hear it because some country doesn’t allow it. How about just blocking the countries that do not allow such streams? I bet lawyers would agree with me on that point because the company would need a lawyer from every country so woho! go Lawyers! ; )

The idea of SC is great but with this kind of thinking or copyright I guess it will fail in a few years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Indeed, it is bad tech. After a series of lawsuits by the labels, Soundcloud was forced to integrate an automated infringement detection system and a label management console, given labels incontestable privileges to take down anything they deem to be infringing. It’s a robot, and nobody is at the wheel. I’m reminded of animals doing jobs on ‘The Flintstones’, who shrug, look at the camera, and intone “It’s a living!”

Many, many DJ sets, podcasts, and radio show airchecks have been taken down simply because the robot said so, even though these are all legitimate and promotional uses of the tracks – possibly uses the labels’ own PR departments encouraged. Of course, some label vice-president will get a huge bonus for this crap since it shows they are ‘doing something’ about the ‘piracy threat’.

The stupidity will continue until the labels recognize that some uses are legitimate, and a well implemented system nominates infringing uses to humans, who then make a decision based upon a bit of common sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“given labels incontestable privileges to take down anything they deem to be infringing. It’s a robot, and nobody is at the wheel.”

The labels are on the wheel. So everything that does get falsly taken down is the labels fault. They asked for that meassure and they are imho responsible for it. So if anyone thinks about blameing either Soundcloud or the software company please think twice. Those just do what they have to to stay in business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The stupidity will continue until the labels recognize that some uses are legitimate, and a well implemented system nominates infringing uses to humans,

Human checking is not economically feasible, due to the number of posts made to the Internet every second. Why do you think the legacy industries hate fair use etc, and want other people to deal with the problem of infringement, the cost of doing it themselves would bankrupt them, even when it uses automated systems. They are not prepared to employ the people needed, or to set up their own Google size operation to check for infringing works.
The two options are: eliminate copyright, or eliminate the Internet as we know it. That is the core issue in the fights over SOPA, TTIP etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Hmmmmm…I think I discovered a way to abuse the system used by Soundcloud. It’s undoubtably illegal but the results would be so worth it.

Begin by cracking Sony’s passwords into the system then go on a spree taking down anything and everything uploaded by Sony, all remixes, covers-in short anything even remotely connected to a current or former Sony musician. By the time the system flags a human to look at things the damage will be done, all of Sony’s artists will be lambasting the company. The company heads will, of course, lay all the blame on the overzealous legal department and there will be dead and dying lawyers stinking up Sony’s ecosystem for months to come. The outcome of this will be the new crop of legal sharks will be very reluctant to exercise their takedown rights. And, artists will be unlikely to sign or renew contracts with Sony Music.

Of course, the other labels will get the message, if not they will be the next target.

DB (profile) says:

The absurdity is that the label was granting an explicit license to use the work.

This wasn’t a question of fair use, it was a claim of “we own everything” gone wild.

As for the statement about needing to own the copyright, most labels do not own all rights to the music they publish. The artists are often playing a song and singing lyrics separately copyrighted by others, and sometimes even the resulting performance is only licensed to the label.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

This exact thing happened to me.

This exact thing happened to me. About two or so months ago, I downloaded an a capella from DJ/Producer Zedd’s song “I Want You To Know”. So, I made a remix of it under my handle, Teepo Familiar. Considering that Zedd is signed onto a major label (Zedd is signed onto Interscope), the bots put the kibosh on my remix for © infringement. I filed a counter-complaint saying I had the rights to do this because I got the remix from Zedd himself. Why would he release the A Capella if he didn’t want remixes from it (and with permission from the label as well)? I’m still waiting for a response.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was entrapment. But the most likely story is that the bots caught a false positive and the major labels shot themselves in the foot, as with the One Direction remix instance.

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