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.

Filed Under: censorship, contentid, copyright, free speech, journalism, marvin gaye, protests, takedowns
Companies: unicorn riot, youtube


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jun 2020 @ 11:04am

    In fairness to Unicorn Riot, the algorithm in question is a copyright-based algorithm, so you’re both kind of correct.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2020 @ 11:22am

    I can guess what some of the people involved or hearing about this are thinking:

    "If the niggers don't want to be heard, they have nothing to complain about."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2020 @ 11:58am

    Isn't it about time the powers that be stopped accepting back hand payments and started accepting the total fuck up they've made over copyright, then put the public back into the driving seat where they are supposed to have been all along?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2020 @ 12:08pm

    Next the PROs want to know who was playing the music, as they owe them for public performance licenses.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2020 @ 12:16pm

    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)

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2020 @ 12:46pm

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

    Play music in the background, get a video removed or silenced.

    ... well, I can't think of any way for that to be abused.

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

  • icon
    mcherm (profile), 3 Jun 2020 @ 2:01pm

    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.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    tz1 (profile), 3 Jun 2020 @ 3:28pm

    Easier

    Just say "Eric Charamella" and the video will be banned from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and probably most others. They won't show it on Fox or CNN.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 3 Jun 2020 @ 11:09pm

      Re: Easier

      So, I've asked you this before, but is it actually your aimed to be wrong and/or an asshole in every thread, or are you just coming across this talent accidentally?

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Jun 2020 @ 6:47pm

    Think of the poor Marvin Gaye estate. How will they ever survive if they don't collect the money they are due from the protesters?

    Jeez, pirates and thieves!

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

  • identicon
    Jamie, 3 Jun 2020 @ 8:32pm

    This is copyright pollution.

    Apparently some businesses are catching on to the idea of using loudspeakers and music to control video taken around their establishments.

    Talk about perversions of copyright...

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 3 Jun 2020 @ 9:30pm

    Film at 11! (no audio)

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

  • identicon
    Crafty Coyote, 3 Jun 2020 @ 10:10pm

    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

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 4 Jun 2020 @ 10:00am

      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.

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


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