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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hypocrisy Google: "Complying with Takedowns on the Backs of Fair Users to Make the Record Cos./Artists Look Petty?"

Is Google seeming to “comply” with DMCA takedown notices on fair users and making it seem like the “content owner,” i.e. the artists/publisher/record company is to blame for fair users who are just trying to use youtube the way it kinda got started - as a way to share home movies, and family/friend stuff with folks “back home,”  while letting (as usual) blatant infringers posting whole albums of copyrighted material keep their videos up for years? Apparently so...

(UPDATED 10/12/2014: Reinserted the graphics after they mysteriously disappeared.  They were viewable when the original was posted a week ago, but suddenly "broke."  I'm willing to concede PEBKAC on this one, and I did originally use .PNGs instead of .JPGs.  Whatever...)

Here’s our story.  So, my wife’s sister died last year after a long battle with ovarian cancer.  I created a keynote/powerpoint slideshow of many photos of her and her friends and family throughout her life and PURCHASED from iTunes (and can provide receipts) of any songs that I didn’t already own by either purchasing the CDs or previous iTunes purchases.  

I used those songs (her favorites of her lifetime) as a soundtrack to an approximately 30 minute slideshow in Keynote/Powerpoint.  We held a memorial, and I played the slideshow on a projector for the folks assembled.  But many, many friends and family from out of town could not attend, so I created a movie version and uploaded it to my wife’s youtube channel (which has mostly kid movies and happy birthday songs to friends and family, not albums of others posted, etc.)  I made the movie UNLISTED and emailed the link to close friends and family not able to make it but who wanted to celebrate this young woman’s life.  Seemed like fair use, not public, I owned a purchased copy of any music used: trying to do the right thing as I am a musician and want to protect other artists and play fair.

Well, the youtube movie of the slideshow played fine for a day or so if I remember, but then Google’s software to recognize copyrighted material started to kick in on a few of the songs.  I filed disputes and kindly explained basically what I mentioned above. Unlisted, for a dead person’s memorial, not ad monetized, I purchased the music, etc.  It seems fair use to me?????  It’s  most certainly fairer use than EVERY SINGLE SONG THAT WAS FLAGGED AS COPYRIGHTED  THAT IS READILY AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE RIGHT NOW, usually in full album form with the album cover graphic to make it a “movie.”

So, WTF, huh?  Well, this was back in January or so of 2014, life happened, I figured it was all good as it seemed that my video would play again.  The UNLISTED one…  Of a memorial... Of which I purchased all the songs…  But last night in early October, 2014 an old friend of hers was trying to view the memorial slideshow as the 1 year anniversary of her death is coming up.  She said she couldn’t view it. The unlisted link wouldn’t work. So I checked it out and sure enough, it wouldn’t play on mobile devices, she couldn’t view it on a laptop, and I couldn’t get it to play at all, even though it said that the audio channel only had been blocked. So I looked at the copyright notices in youtube and saw that a few of the disputed song claims were rejected and the audio was supposedly “muted.”  But in actuality the whole video was somehow not viewable.  

Now, I’ve seen for years now and  read all about it in artist rights’ blogs, have seen friends/family do it where a person posts an album or a song and throws up the graphic of the album or song and you can essentially now, have the whole album to play as you wish. For free, baby!  And of course google serves ads on these “videos.”

So I thought about appealing the dispute, but this is my wife’s youtube account, we mostly have (as I said before) movies of our kids, some silly videos of us singing happy birthday to friends etc, and I didn’t want to run the risk of having her account terminated over this, and all those videos of baby steps and the like taken down if we received a copyright strike, or 3 as there were 3 songs disputed who’s disputes were “rejected.”

So, I’m steaming a bit about this, spent way too many hours making the thing in the first place, and just wanted to share it semi privately with friends and family. The music was what gave the photos the emotion that moved everyone at the live memorial in the first place.  Having seen so many albums out there that seem blatant infringements that stay up there, it pissed me off and the idea occurred to me that Google is playing their “compliance” game to make it look like they have it so "dialed in" and that it’s the "big mean record companies, artists and publishers who won’t let you play that Donavan/Heart/Cure in your poor dead sisters memorial,” we’ve done all we can do.  We’re just complying.  But… WTF about all those albums?  Well, here’s some info with screenshots of the songs used in the (Unlisted) memorial that were flagged and disputes rejected...

There are at least 6 full albums or songs of Heart’s “Dog and Butterfly” available to play to your hearts content no charge...

At least 7 of Nick Drake’s “From the Morning” including slideshows!  None are blocked.  Listen away. You don’t need to buy that album or song folks! 

And of course, many, many places to listen to the Cure’s “Close to Me” for free!  

So, these don’t seem like the official artist/record co./publisher’s youtube accounts and they each have usually millions of views. I see they serve ads which I’m sure barely trickle revenue like the sad terminus of the Colorado River back to their respective artists. 

I used to be able to post slideshows I made myself for no profit only for personal/family use with soundtrack music of songs I purchased. For fun.  But no more.  But apparently many others can if they are blatant and I guess allow ads to be served?  And this whole vibe of Google “being on top of it” and flagging this  content just smacks of hypocrisy, and kind of like a way to fan the flames of “fans” who already are being led to believe by the Freehadist Techno Robber Barons that it’s the mean, rich artists and their evil record companies who are to blame.  Meanwhile they just bought their 5th Tesla and 2nd yacht that they had trucked to Gerlach and sailed across the playa at Burning Man.   

Should I just have put up an album instead?  YouTube is becoming useless for what I want to do with it for personal “content creation.”  I had to spend hours rendering and uploading to send the memorial via dropbox to the friend across the country last night.  So they could have a nice memory of their friend, who died too soon, and shed a few tears over the music that was the soundtrack of her life.  While they looked at pictures of her life.  Privately. With music I purchased. 

Now get the hell off my lawn...

1 comment:

  1. Oddly enough, even though the images I included in my original posting via this Google product, Blogger, were viewable last week after I posted this, now they are mysteriously "broken." I doubt that my posting (critical about Google's copyright practices) would invoke some sort of censorship disguised as a "technical error" would it?

    I'll try again to make the pictures work as they illustrate the frustration I'm conveying about their practices.