Disputing a BS YouTube copyright claim

This morning I woke up to an email from YouTube saying that some music company had claimed I used their music without a licence in one of my videos, and so I would no longer be able to monetise that video.1

Hi Stuart Langridge, Due to a copyright claim, you are no longer monetising the following YouTube video. It is still playable on YouTube, but the copyright owner could choose to show ads on it. Video title: Potton in 2012: a video drive around. Copyrighted song: Can't Get Away. Claimed by: [Merlin] Awal UK Limited. Why this can happen: Your video might contain copyrighted content. A copyright claim on a video can prevent you from monetising it. The YouTube Team

Hang on, thought I. That’s the video where Dad and I drove up every street in Potton. Didn’t I use Creative Commons music for that?

Yes. Yes I did. It was “Background Elevator Music (Loop-able) by Austin Graver,2 used under a Creative Commons Attribution licence, and that’s explicitly called out both in the YouTube description of the video and in the credits in the video itself.

So, I follow the “View Claim Details” link and get told that “your video may include music that is owned by a third party”, which it does not, and I assume that some sort of automatic Shazam-like robot downloaded the video, incorrectly matched it against its list of owned music, and mechanically filed the claim.

Fortunately, I then get a link to file a dispute. Which gets a bit confusing: I’m then asked why I’m filing a dispute, and presented with a little menu of options.

Some of them are hilarious: “I believe that this copyright claim is not valid, because I own the CD/DVD or bought the song online“, and “because… I gave credit in the video“. I’m assuming that these are some YouTube lawyer’s equivalent of the pit trap in Raiders of the Lost Ark where you inadvertently click “because… I’m not selling the video” and then they strap you into a chair and spend thirty minutes lecturing you about how Copyright Does Not Work That Way, you filthy music thief. Anyway, I deftly avoid these obvious routes to death: what I want is an option which says “the music you say is in here is not in here, you stupid robot”. That ought to be enough; as it happens, I can prove that I have the right to use the music that I did use, but that’s not in question; they’ve accused me of using their copyrighted music, and I didn’t. There is no option for that. There’s nothing on the list of choices for why I’m disputing the claim which indicates that the claim is irrelevant rather than disputable. Pander to the licence holders much, YouTube? Anyway, from the list, “I have a licence or written permission from the proper rights holder to use this material” seems like the right one.

Reason for dispute: This video uses the copyrighted material at issue, but with the appropriate licence or written permission from the copyright owner.

BZZT. No! You see there where it says “This video uses the copyrighted material at issue”? My video does not. This dispute reason means “yep, I am using your music, but I’m allowed”. I’m not using their music at all. So this is not the right path. Other options from the menu of choices are “My use of the content meets the legal requirements for fair use or fair dealing under applicable copyright laws” and “The content is in the public domain or is not eligible for copyright protection”, both of which also start from a proviso of “yep, I used your music”, which is not the case.

So the only one remaining is “The video is my original content and I own all of the rights to it.” Which is not true either! It’s not my original content; the music is Austin Graver’s original content, which he allowed me to use. What it isn’t, Awal UK Limited, is your music. YouTube don’t even seem to acknowledge anywhere that a copyright claim might be made erroneously, that I might look at a video of ducks on a river and say “hey! that video contains Sympathy For The Devil! Give me money!” when it absolutely does not. I should not have to prove that the music in the video is allowed — if it’s not, then that’s for the rightful copyright holder to dispute. If you claim my video contains your music and my video does not, then I should be able to say “my video does not contain the thing you’re complaining about” and that’s it. Come on, Google, sort it out.

However, as ever, I don’t want to get my Google account suspended or something while I fight this out. So I wrote a reason for dispute which not only said “this is not your music” but explained why I was allowed to use the music that I did use.

The music in this video is not the song 'Can't Get Away' as suggested in the copyright claim. The music is the track 'Background Elevator Music (Loop-able)' by Austin Graver, available from (soundcloud link) and published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. This information is explicitly placed in the video description on YouTube, and is also in the credits section at the end of the video itself. I therefore state that the copyright claim against this video is invalid because the video does not contain the material that the claimant suggests it does.

This is very annoying. Surely if I just log into YouTube and incorrectly challenge a bunch of videos for containing my copyrighted music when they don’t, there would be some repercussions? Some sort of punishment for me? Why does this not apply to them? The whole process is designed to make me feel like I have to humbly ask for permission, like Oliver Twist; sure, if I’d stuck a Beatles song on the soundtrack then I would have to humbly beg permission, but I didn’t, and assuming a priori that everyone does seems more oppressive than it ought to be.

Now we’ll see what happens next.

More in the discussion (powered by webmentions)

  • Rob responded at reposts this. (twitter.com) RT @sil: The process by which one disputes an invalid copyright claim on YouTube is more annoying than it should be. kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/3… exp…
  • Folmer Fredslund responded at plus.google.com Sounds similar to patent trolls. If I understand correctly, they get money from commercials, until you rectify their claim? Anyway, it sounds crazy, t…
  • Adrian Bradshaw responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Scott Miller responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Stephen Ward (AukonDK) responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Tarus BALOG responded at plus.google.com This sucks. It's similar to when +OpenNMS​ got a DMCA takedown notice from Google because +F5 Networks​ hired a lazy lawyer who thought two of our wik…
  • Peter Janes responded at reposts this. (twitter.com) RT @sil: The process by which one disputes an invalid copyright claim on YouTube is more annoying than it should be. kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/3… exp…
  • Martin Wimpress responded at plus.google.com Imagine the frustration if you are a voice artist and your voice is used in copyrighted material. Then your own, unrelated, video casts on YouTube hav…
  • Bryan Lunduke responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Eric Casteleijn responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Martin Wimpress responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Brendan Minish (bminish) responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Will Cooke responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • DoorToDoorGeek “Stephen McLaughlin” responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Christian Kopp responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • David Feeley responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Seth Arnold responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Nathan Campos responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Dominic Mitchell responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Stephen Garton responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Campbell Hore responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Rodney Dawes responded at plus.google.com You should make copyright claims against all their videos in response.
  • Adam Gignac responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Rodney Dawes responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Craig Kempson responded at plus.google.com Ridiculous. You're right though, it's designed to wear you down. Fight it!
  • Folmer Fredslund responded at plus.google.com Fight fight fight!!
  • Folmer Fredslund responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Brendan Minish (bminish) responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Nathan KrantzFire responded at plus.google.com I say don't use YouTube if you can avoid it. This isn't exactly their fault, since it's mandated by the DMCA, but you could a avoid the issue by using…
  • Will Cooke responded at plus.google.com The option seems to be: if you win we'll just pretend this didn't happen or if you lose we'll make you create a whole new YouTube id. In this case it…
  • dean brickland responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Robert Collins responded at plus.google.com Take google to your local small claims arbitration court.
  • Dimitris Sevastakis responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Jan Mercl responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • david wolski responded at plus.google.com Not pleased at all. Told them so here:https://www.awal.com/contactYou should go after them with an action for declaratory judgment. This will cost you…
  • James Henstridge responded at plus.google.com +Nathan KrantzFire: YouTube's actions go further than what the DMCA requires. Yes, they are required to take content offline in response to a takedow…
  • david wolski responded at plus.google.com +James Henstridge DCMA takedown notices were probably filed in bulk by Awal UK Limited. It doesn't mean that it is a valid claim under copyright laws…
  • Stephen Kellat responded at plus.google.com Well, I guess MediaGoblin needs further exploration after this...
  • Matthew Brennan Jones responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Jarlath Reidy responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Paul Smyth responded at plus.google.com You think that's bad, my 13 year old son has had a copyright claim against one of his videos which is just him talking!
  • Marc Deslauriers responded at plus.google.com I'm half-tempted to click the "Report this post" link here just to see how mad you can get :)
  • Seth Arnold responded at likes this. (plus.google.com)
  • Nandan Vaidya responded at plus.google.com Irritable that I had to spend my Saturday morning doing this.http://www.kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/30/disputing-a-bs-youtube-copyright-claim/
  • Eric Casteleijn responded at plus.google.com Unbelieveable. After getting a spurious copyright claim on my YouTube video (http://www.kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/30/disputing-a-bs-youtube-copyright…
  • Ru R responded at plus.google.com Unbelieveable. After getting a spurious copyright claim on my YouTube video (http://www.kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/30/disputing-a-bs-youtube-copyright…
  • Folmer Fredslund responded at plus.google.com Unbelieveable. After getting a spurious copyright claim on my YouTube video (http://www.kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/30/disputing-a-bs-youtube-copyright…
  • Winkle ink responded at plus.google.com Unbelieveable. After getting a spurious copyright claim on my YouTube video (http://www.kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/30/disputing-a-bs-youtube-copyright…
  • Kevin Gillette responded at plus.google.com Irritable that I had to spend my Saturday morning doing this.http://www.kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/30/disputing-a-bs-youtube-copyright-claim/
  • Brendan Minish (bminish) responded at plus.google.com Unbelieveable. After getting a spurious copyright claim on my YouTube video (http://www.kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/30/disputing-a-bs-youtube-copyright…
  • Tim Dobson responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Anton Piatek responded at twitter.com RT @sil: "If... once a song was taken down [youtube] prevented it from going back up": kryogenix.org/days/2015/05/3… all the time recode.net/2016/04/…
  • Roger Light responded at twitter.com A very good point.
  • Jono Bacon responded at twitter.com Ahhh, good point. I wonder if the @creativecommons commons could help here.
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com (correction: no solicitor needed)
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com yeah. As with all these things, a 30 second conversation with an actual person would sort it, but the tech is designed to prevent that.
  • Roger Light responded at twitter.com Depends on the point - the only real advantage to fighting is upholding the CC license.
  • The Incredible Holg responded at twitter.com Unbelieveable. A *second* copyright claim has come in for a video which only uses a loop of @creativecommons music, in addition to the one o
  • The Incredible Holg responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Mark Johnson responded at twitter.com In @uupc's experience, no.
  • Daniel Llewellyn responded at twitter.com interesting that austin graver appears to have vanished from soundcloud (linked off your blog post from 2015): soundcloud.com/austingraver/b…
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com yes, I noticed that. :(
  • dohbee responded at twitter.com Unbelieveable. A *second* copyright claim has come in for a video which only uses a loop of @creativecommons music, in addition to the one o
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com youtube.com/watch?v=dKPZNM… also uses it and credits it, though, so I didn't make it up.
  • Joël de Bruijn responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Diogo Constantino responded at twitter.com They have no incentive to do anything.
  • Diogo Constantino responded at twitter.com Unbelieveable. A *second* copyright claim has come in for a video which only uses a loop of @creativecommons music, in addition to the one o
  • Paula Paterson responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Francesco Ponzin responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Christopher Smith responded at twitter.com Unbelieveable. A *second* copyright claim has come in for a video which only uses a loop of @creativecommons music, in addition to the one o
  • Christopher Smith responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Beto De Almeida responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Cute Cat Casa responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)