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EFF Lawyer Calls YouTube ContentID Worse Than DMCA 219

Posted by timothy
from the take-toys-and-go-home dept.
Richard Koman writes "Warner Music Group is apparently blocking everything YouTube ContentID comes up with as potential infringement. We knew that, but this piece by Jason Perlow shows that they're also spewing out DMCA takedown notices for some pretty clearly fair-use stuff. In my interview with EFF's Fred von Lohmann he talks about how, as bad as the DMCA process is — and it's pretty firmly against fair-use — YouTube's process gives remixers and digital creators even fewer options to assert their right to speak through the fair use of copyright material. While EFF is negotiating with Google and the studios, he suggests that users boycott YouTube if they won't stand up for fair use."
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EFF Lawyer Calls YouTube ContentID Worse Than DMCA

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  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @03:33PM (#27523031) Homepage Journal
    It's called the dispute button. It leads you to a page listing several categories of valid and invalid dispute reasons. One of the valid options is "this use does not require the copyright owner's permission"; select the radio button next to that and you'll get a text box for further information. Put a Twitter-length explanation of why you believe your use is a fair use under the Copyright Act, and you just might win if you have a decent case. I won the only dispute filed against me, which was for the use of "Take Me Out" in this video explaining how it sounds like an Animal Crossing song [youtube.com].
  • Donate to EFF! (Score:5, Informative)

    by siliconwafer (446697) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @03:47PM (#27523271)

    ...he suggests that users boycott YouTube...

    Good idea. I also suggest making a donation to EFF [eff.org].

  • Re:Alternative? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @03:54PM (#27523393) Homepage Journal

    Vimeo isn't bad.

    But it is limiting. Vimeo doesn't allow videos that promote a business, unlike YouTube. Nor does it allow you to post videos licensed from some other author (e.g. under Creative Commons) or videos from the public domain; the uploader has to be the author. This means you can't post, say, video game reviews because you aren't the author of the video game.

  • Workaround (Score:2, Informative)

    by dhermann (648219) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @03:57PM (#27523433)

    I know there are a great many video editing tools out there, but here is how to do it in Sony Vegas.

    1. Highlight the audio track that is flagged.
    2. Choose Options -> Audio -> Apply Audio FX (or something to that effect; I don't have it in front of me)
    3. Choose Pitch Shift
    4. The top scroll bar is for very large shifts in pitch. You want a small one, so use the second slider. I am not sure what kind of threshold is necessary to avoid detection by YouTube, but a quarter-step (moving the slider to about 1/4 of the way from the left or right edge) should do the trick.
    5. If this track is already part of a video you've made, you probably want to choose "Preserve Duration". Pick one of the filters labeled as "Music". I use the "Best for Loud Bass" one.
    6. Finish.

    The theory behind this is simple: music operates in a key. It's a "baseline" set of notes that are usually pleasing when played together. What people usually don't understand is that any song can be played in any key, and it will sound basically the same. When you hear the pitch shift in effect the first time, the song will sound "wrong", but unless you are listening to it side-by-side, it won't matter.

    YouTube scans audio using small pieces of WMG songs as "fingerprints". They naturally assume that the songs they are looking for are in the same key as the original recording. By shifting the pitch a quarter step, the audio track will be impossible to match to their fingerprint. Keep in mind that this is a "workaround", that is, you could not rerecord a song in a different key and claim that it doesn't infringe on the original's copyright. But your YouTube videos are safe!

    Good luck finding the Pitch Shift feature in your video editing software. It's relatively simple, and should be available in most.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @04:06PM (#27523575) Journal

    The New York Times reports that many YouTube users have found themselves in the same position as high school sophomore Juliet Weybret, who posted a video of herself playing piano and singing "Winter Wonderland."

    Troy McClure: Oh, how darling! That is one swinging rendition, Juliet!
    Troy McClure: But today I'm going to teach you the magic of copyrights! Do you know that you're violating the law?
    *Juliet shakes her head*
    Troy McClure: GOOD! That just might hold up as a defense in court if you look a little more sweeter and innocent. But your fate is up to the RIAA to decide!
    Troy McClure: You see, Juliet, copyright law is designed to be much too complex for any normal citizen to understand for a reason: so that you, the average citizen, will always lose. Now where did you learn that song from?
    Juliet Wybret: My grandma.
    Troy McClure: Jackpot! The RIAA loves to interact with the elderly that can't understand technology. I'm certain she paid a handsome sum to play that song for you though otherwise the two of you are thieves. You're not a thief, are you Juliet?
    Juliet Wybret: I don't think so.
    Troy McClure: Of course not! You see there is a simple law that states for works created after 1978 copyright lasts 70 years after the last surviving author's death (in the case of joint) and works between 1964 and 1977 are the same except were under the old model which had terms of 28 years starting in 1923 but they had to be renewed in order to enjoy the benefit of the full 95 year term after the last surviving author's death. Easy to remember, right? So you see, Winter Wonderland was composed by Felix Bernard who died in 1944 and the lyrics were written by Richard B. Smith who died in 1935. The good news is that you can publicly say the lyrics after 2030 and play the music on piano after 2039! So you're almost there!
    Juliet Wybret: Bu ... but my grandma and mom play this song for the whole family every Christmas ...
    Troy McClure: Easy there, Juliet! The RIAA's got enough ammo against you as it is. Remember, the Senators and Congresspeople who represent you and your interests want it this way so be an American Patriot and embrace the law! They were only thinking of a fair system for you and the artists when they made these laws. See you next time!

  • YANAL (Score:4, Informative)

    by vlad_petric (94134) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @04:26PM (#27523851) Homepage
    Problem with fair use is that it's a very vague concept (at least in the USA) to begin with. RIAA is even claiming that it's not a right, but an affirmative defense. So anybody can claim that X is not a fair use of Y without committing perjury in any way.
  • by PRMan (959735) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @04:30PM (#27523909)
    Easy. Bands don't own the rights to their own music.
  • by Gerzel (240421) * <brollyferret@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @04:40PM (#27524025) Journal

    And who pray tell will be paying for this?

    "put the lawyers against" requires money, and a lot of it. If you are a non-wealthy tier citizen it is not something you can afford and therefore any rights requiring lawyers or legal assistance is something which non-wealthy citizens(aka middle class and lower) are not entitled to, where wealthy citizens are.

    This is how the US government works. The wealthy class are taught the language of money and law, and given the ability, clout and means to use it(all three are known by the rest of us as capital or simply money). The non-wealthy classes may aspire to become wealthy, but until they do must not know their place and must be kept in the dark as to how the legal system works. This is simple as the language of the legal and financial system is kept so abstruse and threatening that no one without a constant immersion and direct means to use it would ever be willing to try and navigate it. There are of course colleges that teach these things but the cost is kept at a high enough rate that only the cream who are willing to keep the status safely quo are allowed to pass through the rest are generally given such crushing financial debts that they are never able to wield these instruments against their makers.

    We have a wonderful financial system. It has replaced the government without the people ever realizing it. No matter how much is blustered about reform and regulation just look who is in office under those elected. Sure you could have voted for the other guy, because the system is so perfect that he'd be in the same pocket just on the other side of the button. All blame is shifted to abstractions-today called "Red" and "Blue"-and the system works right on around all the outrage and indignaty of the unwealthy undeserving majority, the loser classes, while the winners reap all the benefits.

    The RIAA is a good scape goat and fine working piece of this machinery slowly but surely shutting down all of the loser ability to speak out in any meaningful way. In concert with efforts to control content on the internet it will soon be that dissent will be funneled through the tightest of information capillaries where the mere effort to squeak it out will be so much that the individual will be seen as stupid and undeserving of being listened to simply for wasting their valuable time.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:01PM (#27524279) Homepage Journal
    Google's calculator appears not to support tweets or libraries of congress as units of information. But Wikipedia says one Library of Congress is 20 TB of text [wikipedia.org]. Under this definition, one tweet (140 bytes) equals 7 * 10^(-12) LoC.
  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:04PM (#27524319)

    ...which clearly had no copyright infringement besides mentioning an auto system cleaning product. I made the video myself. No answer was given to me, only that I had a hit against my account and if I got 3, it would be deleted. There's obviously no way to battle their decision. It sucks.

  • Re:Crazy Thought! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:09PM (#27524445)

    They may still submit a DMCA takedown notice againt it, and google will still take it down... ..and now what do you do? Get a laywer? Cry? yeah...

    No, you simply submit a counter-notice, and they have to put it back up.

  • by Thaelon (250687) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:24PM (#27524653)

    The penalties mentioned only apply if you're not actually the copyright holder. They do not apply if your DMCA claim is utter bullshit. In short, you can make false claims utter impunity.

    They were very careful to write the law that way so that it would have minimal repercussions for copyright holders when abused, and maximum impact even when abused. For that reason it's about the most heinous and abusive law ever passed in the U.S. as far as favoring corporations over the people.

    FYI: The DMCA a major focus www.chillingeffects.org [chillingeffects.org].

  • Re:Alternative? (Score:3, Informative)

    by brandonbradley (950049) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:38PM (#27524847)
    That might work if the RIAA hadn't already anticipated it and set up SoundExchange to collect royalties regardless of who it is created by. More info at the following: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/4/24/141326/870 [dailykos.com]
  • Re:Alternative? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @06:06PM (#27525187)

    Am I missing something here? I thought under the DMCA they could file a takedown notice, but the content provider could immediately file a counter-notice if it's legal?

  • Re:Alternative? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Firehed (942385) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @08:02PM (#27526259) Homepage

    Spend $60/yr on a Smugmug medium-level account. They don't give a damn what you host (so long as it's legal, obviously), and as a bonus they don't compress the hell out of it like Youtube and all of the other flash-based sites.

    You lose out on the potential viral aspect of Youtube, but honestly there's so much crap on youtube anyways that it's practically irrelevant. And not having the youtube audience commenting is priceless.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09, 2009 @08:07PM (#27526299)

    Youtube doesn't have a monopoly on video. If I want music videos, I go to Roxwel [roxwel.com] or Blastro [blastro.com]. There are plenty of sites that specialize in a certain kind of video and do it well and legally.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @08:22PM (#27526391) Journal

    Another hurdle that hurts the common man is the costs involved in getting a patent, copyright or trademark are at times higher than the expected revenue to be derived by having a patent, copyright or trademark.

    Actually you are wrong, at least as far as copyright. All you have to do to copyright something is write it down. That's it. No expense involved. If you've had it published, it is common to send a copy to the library of congress as proof that you did indeed write it, but it is not necessary.

  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @09:03PM (#27526723)

    Google is doing exactly what they're required to be doing here by taking down the videos. The fair users are supposed to be filing DMCA counterclaims saying that their work does not infringe, and at that point the work will be put back up.

    It's not Google's job to be a mediator here. In fact, they open themselves up to legal liability (which they're trying really, really hard not to do with respect to Youtube) if they start becoming one.

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