(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, takedowns, user experience, videos


YouTube Removing Sound From Music Videos Rather Than Takedowns?

from the hurray-for-bad-user-experiences dept

Damon writes in to point out what seems like a strange decision on YouTube's part. In response to at least some complaints from record labels concerning music videos, rather than take down the whole video, as was done in the past, apparently it's just removing the sound, leaving odd, slightly creepy, soundless videos. The end result? Annoyed and confused users having a bad experience. Update: So it turns out that YouTube gives users the option of muting the sound or having the whole video removed. Still seems like an odd way to handle the issue.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 1:03pm

    And all it takes is a small fee...

    If you want to change the way the young use and pay for content on the net then youtube is the place to do it. But it seems just as likely people will slowly migrate to other sharing sites with less restrictive rules.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    bob, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 1:18pm

    There are all sorts of other video sharing sites out there and Youtube seems to be determined to give them market share. People who get fed up with youtube will just migrate to places like dailymotion or metacafe. It's already happening. This will just speed it up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    That's even worse than just taking down the videos.

    Dammit, I wish the media companies would realize that YouTube is not the enemy,

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    I don't think that this tactic is really a problem. I found myself watching a video with no sound...did I get annoyed with YouTube? No, I like most others know that their hands are being tied by other mean spirited companies. At least I could use the comments to find a link to an external video of the same content WITH sound. Wow way to go media companies! I sympathise with YouTube, am pissed at you, and I still get to watch my video with sound...is this really working for you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 2:10pm


    That's going too far. Usually the same video is uploaded several times over by different users. So if one doesn't have the sound, chances are you can find that same video, on YouTube, with sound.

    YouTube mutes one video, recording company stops bitching for a while, we still watch what we want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Kurt, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

    The issue still comes back to either 1) the inclusion of music on internet non-commercial videos is fair use 2) the recording industry needs to provide a reasonable licening structure and price for licensing the music for this usage.

    Have you ever tried to license music for a home video to play on youtube or another site legally? You have three options. Do not license anything. License a song that no one has ever heard of from a royalty free site (99% do not contain lyrics) for $25 to $100. Or, license a known song from your favorite band from one of the few sites that provide these terms for rates starting at $1000. Those are not reasonable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    DS78, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    Guitar Lesson Scene

    I wonder how these things are going to affect the guys on youtube who tab music and do instructional videos. Lots of them use entire songs in the background while playing over them. They at least use clips. Or what about the guys that recreate the songs entirely by their own means?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Rob (profile), Jan 14th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    You can't blame YouTube for any of this, you CAN blame the record hounds that have chewed down to the bone to the point where YouTube has no real options left. It may be stupid to remove the sound, but Techdirt writers aren't facing millions in potential lawsuits for stuff that other people do on a day to day basis.

    As for the Guitar Lesson scenario, at least most bands and record executives have realized that going after those teaching people to play is a little over the top. I mean even Lars Ulrich made a video saying how awesome it was that some little kid was playing the solo to One on YouTube (In basketball we call this a make up call, in real life we just point out that Ulrich was a jackass in the first place).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Voice of Reason, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 3:33pm

    A very good strategy

    Having seen a couple of neutered videos now, It's obvious that this is an excellent strategy. We collectively, must stop these pirates at every turn.

    I propose that each and every one of us be vigilant about infringing YouTube videos and report any that you find back to the RIAA or MPAA so that these Authorities can take the appropriate action.

    Not allowing the punter to hear your music is an excellent way to promote it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    tim, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 3:44pm

    are they completely daft?

    I really dont understand this. Youtube is designed in such a way that it is at least difficult for the average users to copy the stream, so the record companies cant be missing out on sales from people just yoinking their songs out of the stream. This is just free publicity and advertising for the songs. a huge percentage of the videos I watch have credits for the music in them too. And how often do we see in the comments someone saying "Man, I loved that song! Who's it by?"..
    BAM! New customer, right there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 4:05pm

    ...aren't the videos copyrighted?

    Isn't there some kind of double standard here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 14th, 2009 @ 4:24pm

    Youtube Fails It

    My response on their blog: "If you want to build a community, you need to occasionally go to bat for that community. Supporting fair use of audio recordings would be step number one. Nobody wants to use RIAAtube."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Washii, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 4:35pm


    >I don't think that this tactic is really a problem. I found myself watching a video with no sound...did I get annoyed with YouTube?

    Do you really expect the average user to figure out YouTube did this because of the record labels, rather than thinking that their computer was broken? Or another dozen other reasons?

    I fix computers for a living for the Average Joe. Oh Lordy would they believe their computer was infected. I'm getting out of this hell-hole as fast as I can.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Stute, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 5:08pm

    Actually, they offer another solution

    I recieved a takedown notice for a video I forgot I even posted, but before taking the video down or removing the sound they offered me a sound replacer to put different music in place of the offending music.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 14th, 2009 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Actually, they offer another solution

    What was the music they offered to replace it with?

    I'd love to see indie bands step up and offer their music as "hassle-free replacement music." Youtube could start a high-profile program designed to keep your videos RIAA-free. "I'm sorry, that band is signed to Warner, who eat all the dicks. Perhaps you'd like to replace it with this band from CD Baby?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Stute, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Re: Actually, they offer another solution

    There were LOTS of options in there, I didn't bother with it though, I just went ahead and deleted the video.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Stute, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 7:18pm

    Re: Actually, they offer another solution


    This is what they emailed to me in the notice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Nate A., Jan 14th, 2009 @ 8:14pm

    Oddly enough...

    Oddly enough, I saw this for the first time when I was watching Sign Language interpretations of popular songs - no sound just the signer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Zaphod, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 11:12pm

    When my video got suspended...

    When my video got suspended for infringing music...

    Even though it was off an album entitled "Harley-Davidson Songs of the Road", and the fact H-D in order for these washed-up artists to promote using their name, demanded that dealerships would be allowed to use the music in promotions, and the fact this video was one I made while working at an H-D Dealership, and branded with the dealer's logo...

    I just said "F' that!" and removed the content. Maybe if more people start just dropping content, these washed up artists like the "Doobie Brothers" would realize their exposure is suffering, and pull back their dogs.

    Maybe Google should just get a blanket ASCAP license for content, and tell RIAA to beat it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    mike allen, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 12:13am

    Re: Re: Actually, they offer another solution

    I just took a look at their list of artists not heard of any of them i cant see a button to listen to the music before adding. I am not saying that the artists they use are no good but to me the sog needs in some way tobe connected to the images on the screen for example a video of say motorcycle racing with say born to be ild steppenwolf.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Josh, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 4:16am


    Even without the sound, its a copyright violation because the video is copyrighted. It seems like the take down notice would have to be an all or nothing situation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    anymouse, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    follow the Music

    This is another shot at some of those music aggregator sites out there, where you put in the songs you want to 'mix' and the site uses various websites (like youtube) to find the songs and create the mix. Now when it finds the song (from the related video) it comes back with nothing.

    So they are getting a two-fer, they can piss off youtube viewers, and piss on the 'mix' sites that were using sites like youtube to gather 'freely available' music off the net.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Zaphod, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    I found a kind of solution...

    I just won't use RIAA tunes anymore. I decided I can get all I want from the .MOD archive, use VLC to convert it to a stream for the video editor, and have semi-decent music, with no annoying lyrics. Gonna repost video, minus annoying RIAA washups.

    http://modarchive.org/ for the content. Use VLC from
    http://www.videolan.org/ to convert to .wav , and then you have all the royalty free tunes you could want for a backdrop to your video! :D

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Charming Charlie, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 1:13pm

    I'm surprised by Techdirt's response

    When I heard this news I quickly came to Techdirt to see what the experts thought. I am surprised to see a short post with only 22 comments. Is this not a big deal? Youtube, the biggest video site in the world, with thousands of videos uploaded daily, silencing videos that violate fair use? Don't half of the videos on there violate fair use in the eyes of record labels? Could this be the beggining of the end for Youtube? Isn't this the same thing as record companies shutting down Napster and instead decentralizing piracy to p2p networks and bitorrent search engines, instead now people will just move from video site to video site, one getting shut down and another two popping up the same day?

    There were a few ways I anticipated Mike might take this news, but instead we just "what a strange decision!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Me, Jan 18th, 2009 @ 5:10am

    This is just stupid. Don't these record companies realise that YouTube is actually increasing sales? Half the bands I like I have only even heard of because of Youtube.
    For example, there is a Malice Mizer album that I am seriously considering buying regardless of the price. This band come from the other side of the world to me, get no publicity at all in the UK, and went on hiatus when I was 8. If it wasn't for Youtube, I wouldn't even know they ever existed. At the moment I think their videos are fine, but if they aren't then it's a good example of how ridiculous this is.

    I hate how record companies are short-sighted like this. They can't understand for the life of them how actual people buy music, and don't want to. They probably wonder why people can't just get permission before they stick videos up. Of course, the fact that most people can't afford two week's wages to pay for the permission probably doesn't really register with them.

    Does anyone know which particular companies have thrown a strop about vids on YouTube? It can't be all of them, surely?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 11:09am

    Youtube has pissed my very much , most of my videos were deleted or dont have sound an alternative may be Veoh but Veoh sucks harder than youtube because isnt avaible in most of the countries and mine is one of them this really suchs Fuck Youtube.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Jordan, Jan 24th, 2009 @ 8:50am

    You tube sucks

    I"m sick of this. Youtube is constantly removing videos. they are going to lose many users.People will end using other streaming websites with less stupid restrictions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    nak-attack, Jan 29th, 2009 @ 10:38pm

    solution for the LULZ!

    I used to just get on youtube and find new songs and artists that caught my attention but since the removal of audio and video I've turned to just downloading entire albums and music videos free.

    good game nubs, you ruined it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    a person O.O, Jan 31st, 2009 @ 9:26am

    is it possible?

    I hate how they take down the audio like I tried to play a song from a cd that I burned onto youtube and it took the audio off!! >.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Kim, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    This Sucks

    I have a lot of old school music as my favorites on the tube. Even those are being taken off or sound is being muted, why I ask? Where else am I going to see a performance of the band Switch from back in the day? Until these videos are sold on DVD for me to purchase then I don't see the point. My favorite videos have been cut down drastically and

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Kim, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    This Sucks

    I accidentally hit submit. To finish what I was saying: My favorite videos are being cut down drastically and that doesn't make me happy at all. : (

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Sophie, Feb 8th, 2009 @ 2:28pm


    Okay, first of all this is annoying. Already half of the videos in my playlists and in my favorites are mute! I can't stand this, I'll wait for YT try to make it better, but sooner or later I'm going to have to give up on YT and move on to a better site. YT is going down the toilet and to get out of that it'll have to stop deleting/muting videos.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    I spent hours on a music video i made and put it on youtube after waitin an hour of uploading. Next i know the whole video is removed because of the sound! I try and try again....and it doesnt work. I finally get a version of it up, but the quality and sound has weird glitches/beeps making the whole thing look crappy. In the first 5 minutes i got 5 stars, a favorite, and a comment from somebody. I removed it due to the crappiness of the sound...I wonder how many views i would get if the video actually worked!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Jyn, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 11:00am

    This isn't just for music videos

    This also applies to HOME videos with music on them.

    How is anyone supposed to add music and ambiance to our videos without having to worry about this? I'm not talking about uploading a recorded music video- Im talking a home made video say- on your child's first steps, etc.

    Adding some emotional music to it that gives it that 'something', makes it more than a home video. Can you imagine watching Star Wars without it's music? It's pretty much like that. Seems like a waste of time and money for people to concentrate on going after individuals adding good tunes to a home video rather than just after the people uploading music videos and TV shows.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    joe nobody, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 10:09pm


    it's not the recording artist, or even the record label....it's the RIAA...yea you know the bastards that tried to ban the radio from playing copyrighted music saying it damaged profits; the same fascist pigs that said the artist that created the songs were not important and that it was the RIAA that was needed to govern them; yea those guys...they are going to all the community sites that allow for uploading videos and threatening a law suit....a lawsuit that all the websites would WIN if they all had a pair of balls due to the RIAA's attempts at monopolizing the market. So you CAN blame youtube

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    AJ, Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 9:28am

    You Tube - video music

    So can someone please explain this from You Tubes own webpage:

    ''There are limitations to copyright. It does not, for example, generally protect ideas or facts. In addition, there are some uses of copyright protected materials are authorized by law. This means, for example, that the copyright owner's permission is not required to use their work in a video.''


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Maverick Kall, Mar 4th, 2009 @ 7:24pm


    They need to realize that today's "pirates" or media communities are too vast, too powerful, too young, too ambitious, to be stopped so easily. The internet is a lot like a large maze; once one way is blocked, there's always another route laying in wait.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Naomi, Apr 27th, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    Why cant I see the Original songs with the Orginal video?

    Why cant I see the original music videos and songs in youtube? Why dose youtube only play other versions of music videos and songs? Like if I tipe in a certain song I often get a different version of it or a remix and cant get the Original.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    vueflix, May 5th, 2009 @ 1:22am

    truth without censorship

    vueflix.com is your answer to YouTube.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Sam Hamilton, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 9:57am

    If you are tired of youtube but want a way to connect with artists and musicians and their videos then you should check out www.putiton.com People can actually stream live vids from the site

    If you are tired of youtube all together than you should probably leave your bedroom and go interact with the real world ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. identicon
    Tony, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 11:22am

    Too Much Hassle

    Youtube used to be a simple way to share a little video that you compiled and set to music. Since they have been blocking the audio I just yanked ALL my videos off. What really makes no sense to me is that they allow the studio to post the actual music video WITH the exact same music but Joe Blow can't post a little clip of their own with that exact same music. I mean really...Is this not ridiculious? I can search youtube for EVERY song out there and watch and listen to it. You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. I am about ready to go back to downloading songs illegally just because I get the impression that my video is just not good enough for THEIR music. They are making more money than ever since they embraced music downloading but it's just not enough for them. I say screw them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. identicon
    usinkorea, Jul 16th, 2009 @ 5:30pm


    Yes. Youtube sucks now.

    I could understand bowing down to the corporate gods over the uploading of entire music videos or TV shows or movies.

    But, now that Youtube has gone corporate itself, and joined with a behemoth like google, it is showing the same kind of contempt for the individual that you should expect from a bunch of money-grubbing suits - when before, it became so popular as a source of empowerment.

    Now, I can't get a 5 minute advocacy video up because I use snippets from copyrighted songs.

    I lost a dozen advocacy videos that were highly edited -- using as primary sources videos I took off of Youtube itself that were nothing but wholesale uploads of documentaries or TV news items - not uploaded by the copyright holder. I lose my account and all that hardwork but the account that has 6 10-minute uploads of a whole documentary I took a part of remains....Thanks, craptube...

    Any Youtube can point to the copyright holders and say it isn't their fault....Fine. I'll go elsewhere that doesn't have such a cozy relationship with corporations --- corporations who are enforcing copyright law -- not because users are making a profit off the corporation's own sweat and blood (or the sweat and blood of artists they own) --- no -- they are enforcing copyright because they are pissed off they haven't figured out a way to make a buck off the sweat and blood of novice video editors.

    Greed. Corporate greed and the flexing of corporate power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. identicon
    Philip, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 7:49am


    YouTube is giving away market share? Umm, no. They are being forced by the lawyers of the owners of the copyrighted material to remove the content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 8:00am

    Re: Actually, they offer another solution

    Well, I make music videos using a game and I need the words to sync up and if the song is replaced it won't match, do you see the problem?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. identicon
    Snowdove, May 9th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    Ridiculous - YouTube removing audio

    It's absolutely ridiculous how far the music industry and YouTube have gone with this. WHY can't we add a sound track to our videos?? As long as we aren't selling it, WHY can't we? If I bought a CD, I could rip it, easily copy it and GIVE it to a friend. It's only illegal if I sell it. So all this digital music that we buy has restrictions that buying hard copy does not. It's NOT fair and it's RETARDED.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. identicon
    Ryan Gunwitch-Black, Dec 26th, 2013 @ 7:50am

    Youtube and covers/mash-ups

    A fan posted some video of me performing a cover where I do a mash-up of Concrete Blonde's "Bloodletting" and Marilyn Manson's "Dopehat" and it has been changed enough to fall under the Fair Use clause in a copyright agreement but Youtube took the audio out. I changed the chords and the arrangement is completely different from either of the originals. Youtube and the record companies are going a little far with this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. identicon
    electric bikes, May 22nd, 2015 @ 1:31am

    Wonder of science

    Great Article and useful tip this blog gives people good information.
    You really mention here some great points,Good job sir,very helpful post.
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2015 @ 6:20pm

    Re: A very good strategy

    really? our freaking video of us dancing at our wedding was muted!!!! how did we infringe on anyone?? we haven't used it for pesonal gain or marketing... it's just us in our wedding!!! and yet there are thousands of other wedding videos that remain with sound! and ours wasn't even professionaly made... it was just a clip from a guests personal pont and shoot camera.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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