Warners Takedown – EFF want to hear

Readers of Radio Clash will know what Warner Media Group did to my Neon Sex People video mashup on YouTube (NSFW – audio and text contains a ‘message’ for WMG and uses music from a great unsigned artist Playgyrl Slim). Annoying, especially as Depeche Mode USED to be on EMI and somehow have transmogrified over to the dark side of WMG – and it’s definitely a transformative and non-commercial use but mashups are still in a grey area.

You might have wondered why all the silent videos on YouTube – they are the victims of this ‘fair use massacre’.

The staple of YouTube amateur musical media, covers – they should be alright, right?

Warners as well as other ‘content owners’ have been using the ContentID system to identify tracks that use their content – fingerprinting technology – but it doesn’t count for fair-use, remixed usage, comment or background use – other owners just share the ad revenue and leave the content in place – but not Warners – but it seems not even covers or remixes or mashups avoid the chop.

As it says in this EFF article:

And while today it’s Warner Music, as more copyright owners start using the Content ID tool, it’ll only get worse. Soon it may be off limits to remix anything with snippets of our shared mass media culture — music, TV, movies, jingles, commercials. That would be a sad irony — copyright being used to stifle an exciting new wellspring of creativity, rather than encourage it.

It’s clear from the Warner Music experience that YouTube’s Content ID tool fails to separate the infringements from the arguable fair uses.

This lack of separation is worrying; various IP and video bodies have said how derivative amateur works, covers etc. are not the problem and for such use as background music should be allowed as otherwise it has a freezing effect on culture, with landgrabs and fences put up everywhere around even the simplest folk song or melody (see the infamous Happy Birthday case which is…you guessed it, Warners! Interestingly this might actually be also public domain as it was published before 1935 by others without copyright notice).

So EFF are asking for examples of your Warners-pulled videos on YouTube – not full music video rips but works that have original content in them (whether that applies to mashups I don’t know – remixes maybe).

In other news, in a case of Pop (Industry) Will Eat Itself, even if you’re signed to Warners you are not safe – Warners is also taking down videos posted by their own artists – such as Moby (who was quoted as saying ‘If it was up to me they’d all be up there and they’d all be free. But, at present, it’s not up to me, it’s up to THE MAN. In the future that will hopefully be different.’) Freezepop, Death Cab for Cutie. Amanda Palmer, Dresden Dolls, and Emiliana Torrini. Nice.

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