Copyright Blocks Interview Of Protesters Because Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' Was Playing In The Background

from the copyright-as-censorship dept

Another day, another example of copyright acting as censorship. The folks over at Unicorn Riot have been covering the protests around the country, but apparently they can’t do that as they’d like because copyright is getting in the way. Unicorn Riot announced on Twitter that video interviews they had conducted and posted have been pulled down from both Facebook and YouTube due to copyright claims such as this one:

If you look closely at that image of the info within YouTube, it shows what are most likely ContentID matches of five different songs that were flagged, playing in the background while protesters were being interviewed. Three of the songs — by Beyonce, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar — were listed for demonetization (which would allow Unicorn Riot’s videos to play, just without monetization). But two more — by 2Pac and Marvin Gaye — said the entire video had to come down.

Now, YouTube does let the user “trim out” that sequence, or “mute” the song, but doing so would trim or mute the interview at the same time, and that kinda defeats the purpose.

And so you have an end result where important historical documentation of huge and important protests, focused on police brutality against black Americans, is being blocked and erased from history, due to the copyright on music created by black musicians.

That cannot and should not be the point of copyright. And yet, it is what we have today.

Unicorn Riot (understandably) is complaining that Facebook and YouTube have “algorithmically interfered” with their reporting, but the reality is that it’s copyright to blame here. And we should not confuse the two.

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Companies: unicorn riot, youtube

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Comments on “Copyright Blocks Interview Of Protesters Because Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' Was Playing In The Background”

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20 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

The algorithms wouldn’t exist without the Copyright, so this is more of a chicken/egg situation, as the algorithms wouldn’t exist without copyright.

So yes it is "algorithmically interfered" with due to the copyright industry (these services would not have Content ID if not for the copyright industry, note I don’t say Music or Movie industry, as those are separate from the corporate overlords who control and manipulate copyright (thought direct and indirect placement of individuals in government and regulatory agencies)

Bobvious says:

Re: 'Our word against yours, and you've been silenced...'

Careful there, the Cage Estate may have something to say about you trying to game the system by replacing the original music with unauthorised samples of 4’33.

The Sounds of Silence: Copyright and HumanRights https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00048623.2002.10755209 and https://www.classicalmpr.org/blog/classical-notes/2015/12/02/can-silence-be-copyrighted

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mcherm (profile) says:

Unicorn Riot Is Right About Who Is To Blame

Unicorn Riot (understandably) is complaining that Facebook and YouTube have "algorithmically interfered" with their reporting, but the reality is that it’s copyright to blame here. And we should not confuse the two.

Unicorn Riot is correct in this case.

Facebook and YouTube have not taken these videos down because a judge has found that they violate a music copyright. Even our copyright-happy courts could not find that an interview conducted on the street to report on an issue of pressing national importance was prohibited from distribution due to background music that was playing.

What has happened is that Facebook and YouTube have each formed their own set of policies which enable them to take down this video. Those policies are NOT law, and if the policies were different then Martin Gay (or rather those that control his music) would have to sue Unicorn Riot for infringement — a lawsuit that wouldn’t happen and would fail if it were tried. But Facebook and YouTube can use their own first-ammendment freedom to choose not to display these videos, and Unicorn Riot cannot defend against that choice in court.

The nuance is that Facebook and YouTube crafted such policies largely in response to copyright laws — and also significantly in response to threats from the music industry to ratchet up their legal efforts and their lobbying to CHANGE the laws. But both policies go far beyond what copyright law itself requires.

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Crafty Coyote says:

And this is where you know copyright has gotten out of hand. 2Pac and Marvin Gaye would certainly have wanted their music to be used at protests and demonstrations, but they died before they could sign waivers for protests. Their music actually censors the interview.

If we could link copyright enforcement to white supremacy, the Creative Commons movement would gain traction. I just dont know how we could do that

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

2Pac and Marvin Gaye would certainly have wanted their music to be used at protests and demonstrations, but they died before they could sign waivers for protests.

It wouldn’t have mattered if they’d signed waivers. The music being played in the background is non-infringing, but automated takedown tools can’t tell the difference between infringing and non-infringing uses.

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