'Dubious' Copyright Claim That Took Down Drone Footage Of Football Stadium Not All That Dubious, But Still Isn't The Optimal Solution
from the rights-holder-bot-claims-upteenth-victim dept
Bogus YouTube takedowns? We've seen our share of those. So, when this arrived in the Techdirt submission box from one of our readers, I wasn't very surprised.
Over the past several weeks, an unidentified quadcopter owner has been flying over Kyle Field at Texas A&M shooting videos of the stadium as it undergoes massive renovations. Texas A&M University forced youtube to block the quadcopter videos over a copyright claim. The claim is (at best) dubious. The videos are posted for free, the school is a state school, and all shots are of outdoor objects. Perhaps the school believes that A&M logos located on and around the stadium are somehow subject to copyright. (via this link)That could very well be. Entities often issue bogus takedown notices and cease and desists, often becoming the real "morons in a hurry" by conflating copyright and trademark in their hurry to flex their ownership. Even if the logos were protected, they would be covered under trademark law, rather than copyright. That's not to say YouTube videos can't be taken down for trademark violations, but it would be a rather unusual situation.
The video that no longer exists states clearly that it has been removed due to a "copyright claim by Texas A&M University." If Texas A&M was that assertive about its logos or making some bogus claim about owning the airspace over the stadium, it certainly would have at least tried to remove another video posted by the same account containing the same sort of footage. But it didn't.
And there's where we find our first indication that this takedown has nothing to do with trademark or A&M's physical property. In the comments, this exchange takes place.
If you can't see or read the screenshot it says the following:
Commenter: Should have had music provide by the Fight'n Texas Aggie Band.This suggests the background music in the first (now removed) video may have featured Texas A&M's creations. A tweet by Matt Burger (creator of the drone footage) seems to confirm this.
Matt Burger (account owner): Look at the first video/photo slideshow. Right in your wheelhouse
If you can't see this, it says:
When editing it's hard to choose. Pick the song that sounds like a 90's montage, or the well known song that will violate copyright. #grindSo, it would appear that Texas A&M's copyright claim was all about the music and had nothing to do with what the drone recorded. While it would have been a bit kinder of A&M to simply have the soundtrack muted rather than kill the video entirely, that's entirely decided by presets on the college's end of the YouTube world, something that isn't going to be applied on a case-by-case basis. Goodbye, Burger's drone footage. And, like so many other cases involving both YouTube and other IP owners, goodbye fair use. That's what happens when algorithms do all the thinking.
This takedown wasn't abusive but it's still a long way from the most desirable outcome. Texas A&M shutting down a video taken by an incredibly loyal fan isn't really a win for anybody.