Another Day, Another Bogus YouTube Takedown Because Of A Major Label

from the but-copyright-isn't-censorship dept

We’re constantly hearing about bogus takedowns thanks to bogus copyright claims, some more amusing than others. Last week we had Ariana Grande’s benefit concert in Manchester getting blocked by ContentID, despite being on her own channel. And now (via Sarah Jeong) we’ve got the band the Dandy Warhols rightfully complaining on Twitter that the video for the single “You Are Killing Me” off of their 2016 album has been blocked on YouTube via a copyright claim from Universal Music Group. Here’s their tweet:

And here’s what I see on YouTube as I write this post (one hopes that sometime soon the video will be returned):

In case you’re wondering, no, the Dandy Warhols are not on Universal Music. They’re on an indie label, Dine Alone Records (hence the reference in the tweet). The band used to be on Capitol Records, which is now a part of Universal, but left Capitol back in 2008, when it was still a part of EMI (before Universal bought EMI). And, either way, as far as I can tell, the song “You Are Killing Me” is a new song from 2016, which Universal Music would have no legitimate copyright claim over.

Yes, this is obviously some sort of mistake, and I’m sure that eventually (if it hasn’t already happened by the time you read this), YouTube will put the video back up. It probably won’t happen, but maybe Universal Music and/or YouTube will apologize (wouldn’t that be something?). But everyone else will just shrug their shoulders and move on. But this is a real problem, and should be a very big concern. That’s because right now, around the world, lobbyists and friends of Universal Music and its friends are pushing to make their own powers to not just take down videos and audio much, much stronger, but they also want the power to block any re-uploads once stuff is taken down. Thus, if Universal Music (or anyone else) decided to (say) completely silence an independent band, it could do so, across multiple platforms for quite some time, potentially causing all sorts of problems, without any judicial review. That should be seen as a major problem, and should be a reason why those laws are not expanded.

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Companies: universal music, youtube

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Comments on “Another Day, Another Bogus YouTube Takedown Because Of A Major Label”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Seems fair. If they want to claim that infringement causes ‘lost sales’ and that that is highly damaging and grounds for insane fees, it seems only right that ‘lost views’ be treated the same way.

Obviously had the video not been taken down then it would have gotten billions of views, and it’s up to Universal to pay for the revenue they would have gotten but didn’t.

Daydream says:

Wouldn't notice-and-staydown be self-defeating?

As I recall, it’s illegal to send a fraudulent takedown notice, but Universal and other such groups have escaped consequences in the past by using bots to issue the notices.

If you have a notice-and-staydown system where uploads are pre-emptively filtered, though, wouldn’t that place more liability on these groups? If you include a statement that so-and-so upload is your own original work or you otherwise have permission to upload it, and it’s still filtered out, wouldn’t you have grounds to file a cease-and-desist or even sue for an injunction and damages?

…Although who would be liable in that case? The group issuing the notice or the company doing the filtering?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wouldn't notice-and-staydown be self-defeating?

As I recall, it’s illegal to send a fraudulent takedown notice

It’s illegal to send a fradulent DMCA takedown notice but that may not have happened. If Google just took it down because they were asked, and nobody mentioned the DMCA, no court has yet ruled that illegal.

Phalen (user link) says:

For the life of me I can’t understand why the music labels would even use automated takedowns over monetizing third party uploads or, god forbid, human review of the copyright alerts before sending out a takedown.

If you have a music video, why isn’t it on YouTube? Where else are people watching it? Especially now that people are accessing streaming services directly through their TV; no one is punching your band’s website into the TV browser.

If you have your video on YouTube coming from an official account, who cares about third party uploads? There are complaints to be made about YouTube from the creators’ side, but one thing they are very good at is returning search results that are relevant. They’re very consistent at returning official uploads as the first search result. Superior search functionality is literally how their parent company made their billions.

So who cares about the unofficial uploads that are probably of lesser quality? No one is clicking them. And if you’re really concerned about it, why not automate monetization rather than takedowns? YouTube offers this service already. It’s not perfect (last I checked there wasn’t a way for two parties to claim monetization even though that would make legal sense for, I don’t know, a video of Mr. Robot clips set to a Tangerine Dream track, even if I’d mostly disagree with anyone pursuing a claim on such a video)

So why even use the automated service? How can it possibly justify the cost and collateral damage? It’s a disastrous PR stance and they gain nothing, ostensibly.

I can understand why a movie or television studio would use automatic takedowns. I can follow the argument that people who can watch something free on YT are probably less likely to pay for it. I can understand why they wouldn’t upload official videos to preempt the infringers. But a music video? YouTube is the only game in town, really. If you’re a band, you should already be there.

I realize this is all about music videos, and that unauthorized uploads of non-video tracks can be a different problem. But I still think it would be foolish for a band to not upload so called "album art tracks" to YouTube. No one serious about their music listening will default to YT, but we do discover quite a bit of new music through YT that we then listen to on Spotify, bandcamp, etc. YouTube is great for reaching new listeners, specifically, and crucially for musicians, it’s where the young people are.

Seegras (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s not about making sense, it’s about not understanding the present — every time again. We’ve seen it with brown wax cylinders, discs, cassette tapes, CD-recorders and finally digital files.

The music labels have been continuously bitching about any new technology, that it would threaten their livelihood, they don’t even realize they could make money with it.

And now, they haven’t realised that music isn’t scarce any more, and thus any attention a piece gets is an asset…

Patrick McKay (profile) says:

It's even worse...

It’s worth noting that it is effectively impossibly to challenge copyright claims by UMG on YouTube, since they have special contractual rights from YouTube to override DMCA counter-notices without having to file a lawsuit. Techdirt has reported on this in the past but it’s been a few years.

Basically UMG has ultimate veto power to take down any video on YouTube without repercussions. So unless their tweet catches UMGs attention, they’re pretty much SOL.

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