His teeth as he smiles / Are white and glistening

I had an email from Google.

I get quite a few emails from Google — most are either one or more of the var­i­ous alerts I find so handy to keep me feel­ing in touch with the world with­out hav­ing to make the extra effort to hunt, or notes telling me that some­body new — at least half of whom I don’t think I know — has added me to a Google+ cir­cle. This, of course, adds some social media vari­a­tion to the end­less requests from peo­ple I’ve nev­er heard of want­i­ng to add me as a friend on Face­book, or the ‘fol­lowed’ advice telling me I’m now haunt­ed by a mar­ket­ing or trav­el advice bot or, and this hap­pened last week, an account owned by a trac­tor fac­to­ry on Twit­ter (the first of which is ignored, the sec­ond of which is blocked — I’m not ardent­ly crav­ing ‘fol­low­ers’ nor ‘friends’).

Then, I still belong to Old Friends, but the only noti­fi­ca­tion I seem to get from them is when one guy, with whom I went to board­ing school, and haven’t seen since, end­less­ly changes jobs.

He’s now the ware­house man­ag­er at a trac­tor fac­to­ry in Perth so there may be a link.

But, yes — a let­ter from Google sat in the junk mail. Well, not Google, per se, but YouTube, which is a Google under­ling of course.

It was a fair­ly straight­for­ward bit of officialese.

It told me that I’d breached copy­right, and under the DMCA I was in minor trou­ble. The offend­ing video was this one:

Yep, that’s Toy Love. They were a New Zealand band of some import who released one fair­ly influ­en­tial album back in 1980 — but of course, any ardent New Zealand music fan/buff/follower/addict/trainspotter knows that. The album was released via WEA Records Ltd. — now Warn­er Music New Zealand — on a label called DeLuxe owned by a guy called Michael Brown­ing, the for­mer man­ag­er of AC/DC. The oth­er major act on the tiny label at the time was INXS.

[An aside: this post is yet anoth­er rant about things copy­right-relat­ed — if such irks it may pay to stop read­ing now.]

Time passed and the Toy Love album was delet­ed. In fact, it was delet­ed for years. Decades. It went for big mon­ey sec­ond­hand. Toy Love had no com­mu­ni­ca­tion from DeLuxe, and the whole own­er­ship of the album was up in the air. In the ear­ly 2000s, the band final­ly man­aged to get the rights back and reis­sued the album, licensed to Fly­ing Nun Records. Fly­ing Nun, in 2005, became a sub­sidiary of Warn­er Music Group, admin­is­tered by Warn­er Music New Zealand. The copy­right in the record remained with the band, though. In 2010 Fly­ing Nun went back into local hands and with it went the rights to dis­trib­ute that album.

[Anoth­er aside: Michael Brown­ing still has, via a murky Aus­tralian com­pa­ny (who also saw fit to issue a boot­leg of the NZ punk album AK79 under the title Aus­tralian Indies Vol.1 a few years back), an un-remas­tered shock­ing qual­i­ty copy of the orig­i­nal Toy Love album list­ed for sale online — avoid it and buy the band’s ver­sion if you are inclined.]

Last year — whilst hunt­ing through junk — I found a disc of old punk video footage. Amongst it was the video in that YouTube clip. I con­tact­ed the band mem­bers and, with their approval, uploaded it. I guess I thought I was in the clear. Noth­ing on that video actu­al­ly came from the album, and even if it had done so, I had writ­ten approval from the band, who now own the copy­right in all recordings.

Warn­ers have nev­er owned it. Ever. Never.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Warn­er Music Group don’t see it that way. With­out any proof, legal right, paper­work or sub­stance, they’ve claimed the rights to that (and anoth­er sim­i­lar Toy Love video uploaded with per­mis­sion) and, accord­ing to the let­ter, they have the right now to run adver­tis­ing with the video if they want. In oth­er words, they’ve stolen the clip’s copy­right from Toy Love and are now assert­ing a right to prof­it from some­thing they don’t own.

Pira­cy is a good word for that. It has cur­ren­cy these days.

Any­one who’s been pay­ing atten­tion in recent years knows that the big labels — Warn­ers are the worst — have done this to thou­sands, per­haps hun­dreds of thou­sands of videos, almost ran­dom­ly it seems. They claim enough, they get to keep a per­cent­age I sup­pose — and get the per­for­mance fees spinoff.

So, YouTube has a process to deal with that, they claim. You can write and con­test pirat­ed or dodgy claims like this and they say they will look at it.

Yeah, sure.….

I’ve already been through that and know how it works — or more, does­n’t. At least not in favour of the small­er copy­right owners.

Here’s anoth­er video:

That’s a cool, fun­ny, video — made as a school project by some stu­dents in Hamil­ton — to the par­o­dy tune, Stole My Car. Now Stole My Car in itself is a grey record­ing. It’s a par­o­dy of OMC’s How Bizarre — yes you knew that — cre­at­ed by a guy at a radio sta­tion in Rotorua in 1996. It was a mas­sive air­play hit all over the world, fol­low­ing How Bizarre’s trek around the plan­et — it was a top ten air­play record in Queens­land in its own right- but was nev­er offi­cial­ly released any­where. 1

I own the copy­right in the audio — 100% unen­cum­bered — and, giv­en that visu­als are lift­ed from the game Grand Theft Auto, owned by the indie Rock­star Games that com­pa­ny could per­haps make a claim on those. How­ev­er, they, to date, haven’t done so.

I liked the video so much, and I’ve always loved the par­o­dy, that I uploaded it to my small YouTube chan­nel. All cool — or it should have been.

I received a let­ter from Google/YouTube. Sony Music had made a claim on the audio. They owned the rights to the record­ing I was told.

A mis­take I guessed.

I filled out the cor­rec­tion form and sent it off to YouTube. They own no part of it I explained.

The response was:

All con­tent own­ers have reviewed your video and con­firmed their claims to some or all of its content:

  • Enti­ty: SME  2  Con­tent Type: Sound Recording

I looked at this and tried to work out what this meant.

It came down to one or more of the following:

a)Sony Music are mistaken
b)Sony Music are lying
c)YouTube are mistaken
d)YouTube are lying

I ful­ly under­stand that this is a minor noth­ing-blip in the copy­right enforce­ment mael­strom, being that the mas­ter record­ing was prob­a­bly iden­ti­fied by an algo­rithm that was not as clever as either Sony or Google thought it might be and that a) was the rea­son this clip was tagged. That led to c).

How­ev­er, my big­ger prob­lem was the sec­ond claim by YouTube that ‘All con­tent own­ers have reviewed your video and con­firmed their claims to some or all of its con­tent’. Giv­en that Sony played no part in releas­ing this any­where on plan­et earth, and have no jus­ti­fi­able claim to any part of the sound copy­right, I’m very doubt­ful that, at any time, ‘All con­tent own­ers have reviewed your video and con­firmed their claims to some or all of its content’.

It is, blunt­ly, a lie by YouTube. It’s d). SME did not review the video and did not con­firm anything.

It’s bull­shit. Brazen, open and unashamed.

Yes, it’s a small thing, but once again it’s theft of a copy­right. The copy­right I own has been com­pro­mised, and cour­tesy of YouTube’s lazy lie (and I think it is just a lazy lie rather than some grand con­spir­a­cy), hand­ed to a third par­ty who do not own it.

There are 5 more videos on my chan­nel on which sim­i­lar claims — all bogus — have been made. I only have 15 videos up there, so that’s about 50% of all videos I’ve uploaded that have had part of the copy­right stripped from them whether it be lazi­ly or with mali­cious intent — the end result is the same — by Google. I have no say in whether adver­tis­ing is run with them, and — worse — Warn­er Music, Uni­ver­sal Music and Sony Music are all get­ting paid each time they are played.

Mul­ti­ply that by the num­ber of videos on YouTube (and the meet­ing I had with a cou­ple of indie label own­ers recent­ly where we all asked, “Have you ever had any mon­ey from YouTube, despite being duly reg­is­tered to receive such?” “No”, “No”, “No” — major labels DO get YouTube monies — large monies) and it adds anoth­er dimen­sion to the unpleas­ant conundrum.

Grand Theft Video indeed.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. It was, how­ev­er, wide­ly boot­legged in NZ, Aus­tralia and Canada/US
  2. Sony Music Enter­tain­ment


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Sam Smersh on Facebook
August 22, 2011 at 9:32 am

Bloody hell! Keen to hear how reclaim pro­gress­es (which of course should­n’t be nec­es­sary…), & which sounds damn near impossible…
I could imag­ine lawyers in US keen to launch a suit against y/t, google though..

Andrew B. White on Facebook
August 22, 2011 at 10:21 am


Steven Reid on Facebook
August 22, 2011 at 10:23 am

YouTube always allows the own­ers to retain own­er­ship of their work. But what they require in their terms of ser­vice is that you grant to YouTube a non-exclu­sive, world­wide, per­pet­u­al license to freely sub-license, re-dis­trib­ute, re-pub­lish, mon­e­tize, and what­ev­er they may want to do with your video. They’re basi­cal­ly requir­ing that you grant YouTube all of the same rights that you have with your video, short of turn­ing over your rights to them.

Source: http://www.reelseo.com/youtube-copyright-ownership/

Sam Smersh on Facebook
August 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

@Steven Reid: Isn’t y/t effec­tive­ly say­ing that there’s noth­ing need­ed to be grant­ed by Simon etc because they’re owned by WMG/SME?

August 22, 2011 at 10:34 am
– In reply to: Steven Reid on Facebook

Steven, sure­ly in these, and thou­sands of oth­er cas­es, they’ve removed own­er­ship from the own­ers and grant­ed it to unau­tho­rised parties.

Steven Reid on Facebook
August 22, 2011 at 10:59 am

It looks that way and that is wor­ry­ing I won­der how much oth­er con­tent they have laid claim to?

Logan McMil­lan
August 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Um.….the back­ing track is actu­al­ly owned by Sony. Right? Dif­fer­ent lyrics. But the same melody and exact­ly the same back­ing track. Thats def­i­nite­ly a breach of copy­right. Or am I wrong?

August 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm
– In reply to: Logan McMillan

No, the back­ing track is owned by my com­pa­ny. Sony have zero to do with it. Sony have no con­trac­tu­al rela­tion­ship with this track what­so­ev­er — they’ve nev­er issued it any­where in the world and have no even arms-length relationship.

Logan McMil­lan
August 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Sor­ry — just read your bio now! 🙂

August 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm
– In reply to: Logan McMillan

No probs 🙂

Delet­ing Music: Not con­tent to mere­ly delete their own catalogue…
August 25, 2011 at 11:43 pm

[…] days he lives in Bangkok doing all man­ner of inter­est­ing things, but he still dab­bles. On his blog this week, he talks about an email he received from Google… Last year – whilst hunt­ing through junk – I […]

August 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm

The one thing I won­der, Simon, is this: you released How Bizarre by OMC and I under­stand that if you own the copy­right to the track, you also own the copy­right to the back­ing track, which makes that video per­fect­ly legal. Now, How Bizarre was released on Huh?Records if I read your bio cor­rect­ly. That must mean that you can still prove that you own the full copy­right to the song. If you show/scan documents/contracts, what­ev­er, to YouTube, should­n’t it then be clear to them that Sony is lying to them? I mean, you must still have access to the legal paper­work from all the artists you signed over the years, right? On the oth­er hand you are prob­a­bly one of the few peo­ple with a chan­nel on YouTube that actu­al­ly has a past as a record label own­er who under­stands copy­right. The mil­lions of oth­er users don’t. And they don’t have the same knowl­edge as you do. So if this unashamed copy­right claim­ing hap­pens all the time, then in fact one of the biggest rob­beries in the his­to­ry of man is a dai­ly oper­a­tion between YT and the “big five”. Please keep us updat­ed on this Toy Love and Stole My Car issue. Last but not least: I still have a CD-sin­gle of OMC, called On The Run. It fea­tures an acoustic ver­sion of How Bizarre, which is great. Every­where you search for the actu­al CD-sin­gle, it says “released in the E.U. and U.K. only” (guess where I’m locat­ed). I won­der why that par­tic­u­lar CD-sin­gle was­n’t released world wide…

August 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Oh, and I almost for­got: how do you store all those count­less mas­ters from your Pro­peller years? How do you pro­tect them from dete­ri­o­ra­tion? Hope­ful­ly they’re not decay­ing away. I once read that when a few decades old mas­ter tape is used for a reis­sue again, they have to lit­er­al­ly bake it in an oven before they play it again. Appar­ent­ly this bak­ing process more or less glues the mag­net­ic par­ti­cles back to the actu­al tape lay­er again. It says a lot about what hap­pens to mas­ter tapes… I’m just curious!

August 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm
– In reply to: Matty

Hi Mat­ty,
I’ve digi­tised every­thing I have, and store what­ev­er mas­ters I can in a dry envi­ron­ment. Unfor­tu­nate­ly over the years a few have dis­in­te­grat­ed, but a very few.
On The Run was released in quite a few coun­tries — it was a Ger­man hit as I recall — but not the US for fair­ly com­pli­cat­ed rea­sons do do with a break­down in the rela­tion­ship with Mer­cury amongst oth­er things. I’ll update this when and if there is any news

August 27, 2011 at 10:21 am

It’s bull­shit, I agree, but, putting aside the ques­tion of the func­tion­al fraud­u­lence of the sys­tem for a minute, should­n’t APRA/AMCOS or some­one be defend­ing you here?

August 27, 2011 at 10:35 am
– In reply to: 3410

No, it’s not a pub­lish­ing mat­ter, it’s the sound record­ing they claim in both inci­dents. There is a his­to­ry of this. Warn­ers have a long record of claim­ing stuff they don’t own and YouTube sim­ply ignore requests to resolve. More or less: we don’t mat­ter and they (the big media cor­po­ra­tions) do. And the more they claim, the more they get paid.

August 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for your reply, Simon. I’ll now cher­ish my On The Run cd-sin­gle even more. The acoustic ver­sion of How Bizarre on that disc is just fab. Maybe in a decade or two my my cd-maxi will fetch top mon­ey on eBay, hehehe… 🙂

Any­way, still I won­der what would hap­pen if you actu­al­ly show Youtube the unde­ni­able truth about your copy­right on How Bizarre, since you must still have access to all the con­tracts and judi­cial paper­work from those days I assume.

Last but not least you’re right by stat­ing that it’s pira­cy. They bla­tant­ly and obscene­ly take what’s yours and claim it’s theirs. And IF Youtube and the ‘big five’ work togeth­er on this, well, then it’s orga­nized crime.

And I wish life could be / swedish mag­a­zines… — The Opin­ion­at­ed Diner
September 11, 2011 at 8:36 am

[…] UK/NZ music com­men­ta­tor, writer and aca­d­e­m­ic Andrew Dub­ber ran my blog post, on YouTube,  a cou­ple back here on his Delet­ing Music pages. The head­er was hum­bling but I’m glad it was picked up. There are […]

September 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Sor­ry to both­er you with this again, Simon, but the whole sto­ry on the copy­right theft of OMC’s How Bizarre in this arti­cle has been on my mind for quite some time now. The oth­er day I saw the movie “Mid­dle Men” and at a giv­en moment in the film, the two main char­ac­ters are dri­ving their car while How Bizarre is play­ing on their car stereo. Since it is clear that your copy­right in the YouTube debate was­n’t acknowl­edged, I won­dered how OMC’s How Bizarre end­ed up in that film. Were you approached for it? Did you get paid for the use of the song in the film? Or does this have noth­ing to do with copy­right or not? (You can see the track­list for the sound­track here and here).

September 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm
– In reply to: Matty

Hi Mat­ty, yes that and many oth­er uses are all fine under the terms of our deal with PolyGram

September 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I see… So if licens­ing tracks for com­pi­la­tions and/or sound­tracks takes place as it’s sup­posed to be, then it’s even more aston­ish­ing what hap­pened with the copy­right claim on Youtube. If any­one wants to license How Bizarre, they know where to find you; if you upload the track ‑whether it’s the orig­i­nal or tongue in cheek ver­sion- your­self, then all of a sud­den they don’t know who you are and claim the copy­right of the song. I don’t know what this world is com­ing to.

Copy­right as Theft « Work­ers Par­ty (NZ)
April 29, 2012 at 8:01 am

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