Home » Copyright/Intellectual Property » You Bought the Rights to that Music, Didn’t You?

You Bought the Rights to that Music, Didn’t You?

27 February 2015

From author Jacquelyn Lynn via Tuscawilla Creative Services:

We have written before about how important it is to either own or acquire the rights to use the material on your website. The same applies to anything you post online, including videos on YouTube.  It’s the ethical and legal thing to do and it’s the standard by which we operate for ourselves and our clients.

So you can imagine how we reacted when we were accused of using copyrighted music without permission. Here’s the story:

Earlier this year, we produced a short video that was designed to promote our video production capabilities and generate some residual income. To set the right tone for the video, we needed some music that was peppy but didn’t overpower the visual image.

I looked through the royalty-free music in our files and found the perfect clip. It was “Lawn Barbecue,” a short, upbeat Bluegrass tune. I had purchased the rights to use it last year from Sony Creative Software’s Sony Sound Series/Production Music. With the music track added, I uploaded the final product to our YouTube channel.

Immediately after the upload was complete, we received a notification from YouTube that there was a copyright claim on the music clip.

. . . .

Filing a copyright claim on media uploaded to YouTube allows the claimant to do one of three things:

(1) they can take down the entire video;

(2) they can strip out the entire soundtrack (or just the portion in question); or

(3) they can leave the video intact, place ads on it and have the entire proceeds from those ads directed to themselves.

The entity uploading the video (in this case, Tuscawilla Creative Services) is prevented from deriving any income from it even though the element in question represents a small part of the total.

. . . .

I searched the Organic Music Library website for the piece of music they were calling “Jubilation.” To my surprise, I found it listed among hundreds of other tunes. The contributor was listed as David Lawrence.

To my even greater surprise, when I listened to the “Jubilation” clip, it was (to my ear) identical to the clip I had purchased called “Lawn Barbecue” – not just the same melody, but the same recording.

Armed with this information, I disputed Audiam’s copyright claim with YouTube. I provided all the information my research revealed along with the confirmation number for my purchase of the rights to “Lawn Barbecue” from Sony.

After about ten days, I received an email from YouTube with this terse statement: “After reviewing your dispute, Audiam (Label) has decided that their copyright claim is still valid.” Interesting. And frustrating. I felt like I was trying to walk through a room full of baited mousetraps.

Link to the rest at Tuscawilla Creative Services

Here’s a link to Jacquelyn Lynn’s books

PG can’t comment on Jacquelyn’s particular situation, but generally speaking, if the owner of a copyright sees an infringing use posted to an online service provider like YouTube by a third party, in the US pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the copyright owner can file a takedown notice.

If the service provider promptly takes down the offending material, the service provider won’t be liable for copyright infringement.

Upon receiving a copy of the takedown notice from the service provider, if the party that posted the alleged infringing material provides a counter-notice under 17 U.S. Code § 512 (g), the service provider is required to repost the alleged infringing material within 10 days.

For much more information on takedown notices in (relatively) plain English, see the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Copyright/Intellectual Property

27 Comments to “You Bought the Rights to that Music, Didn’t You?”

  1. Well, this is great news for all of us with production libraries.

  2. “After reviewing your dispute, Audiam (Label) has decided that their copyright claim is still valid.”


    That sounds trickier than dealing with Putin.

    If you choose to offer it, I’d love to hear your opinion on this.

    I suspect someone is gilding a lily somewhere, hard to identify exactly whom. A horrible predicament for the honest burgher.


  3. So basically, Youtube/Google are in the same predicament e-book publishing services are. It’s up to the true owner of the music to patrol and report unauthorized/pirated copies of the music. Basically, in order to protect their catalog, Sony would have to dispute Audiam’s ownership of that song. The poster was just caught in the middle.

    Give how much music is out there, that seems like a herculean and almost impossible task to stay on top of.

    • Computers handle the job for a lot of music copyright owners.

      • And copyscape handles it for many websites.

        • youtube has a crawler [not sure that’s the right word] that i’d’s original work in spoken word, also. I believe it is the publisher rather than author who makes that agreement with youtube for that piece of software to go active. Not sure that software looks for snippets. I think it looks for entire magilla of song or audio book… I think you can read about it on youtube admin site.

  4. From what I can tell, Audiam doesn’t own or license any copyrights, but polices YouTube and similar sites for unauthorised use of music on behalf of copyright owners and licensors.

    So what may have happened is that whoever composed or recorded the tune licensed it to Sony for inclusion in a pack of royalty-free music (intended for use on video soundtracks), but is also selling licenses for it himself, and has hired Audiam to look for unauthorised uses. If that’s the case, Audiam have forgotten (or were never told) that the tune was also licensed to Sony, and that anyone who has a receipt for the Sony pack of music is in the clear.

  5. This will be an ongoing thing with YouTube for the foreseeable future. Many, many producers, big and small, are aware that so many of the music databases are completely out of whack, citing them for illegally using music that they’ve oftentimes purchased licenses for.

    In a related note, a composer named Kevin MacLeod has been a godsend for many a YouTube producer. He is a prolific composer who lets anyone use his music clips for free, as long as the video producer gives proper credit. As a result, Kevin’s music is in literally millions of different videos all across the internet. It’s really a cool story!

    • Yeah, this is why, when I worked on indie movies, we never licensed music, but always got someone to produce music for us. Licensing was just entering a world of hurt if you’re not Big Movie Company.

      Personally, I think the copyright holder should have to pay 10x the user’s costs, with a minimum of, say, $10,000, if a copyright claim is invalid. That would encourage them to actually check before subjecting legitimate users to the Google inquisition.

    • I looked at his site Reinhardt. What a completely far sighted person. I like his model, give some away for free and user agrees to cite properly and noticeably. And for-pay services offered at $four-hundred to $thousands of dollars, to earn his living. Thanks Reinhardt. That was a good call.

  6. So YouTube just decided that because Audiam said it owned the copyright, that they do? Even with the evidence TCS provided that they had paid for a liscence? Shouldn’t there be some kind of investigation, or waiting period, or something, rather than immediate capitulation? If I were the producer of that video I’d have it down and the music removed, if only to keep Audium from putting ads on it without my permission. Creepy.

    • So YouTube just decided that because Audiam said it owned the copyright, that they do?

      I doubt Google gives a rip who owns the copyright. They are acting to avoid liability under the law.

      • Google is not judging, but the DMCA limits what they can do. The person filing a DMCA takedown is doing so under penalty of perjury (in theory anyway, nobody has been punished for filing a fake takedown notice) and so they are presumed to be in the right if they continue to claim ownership after getting the response from the ‘infringer’, it takes an actual lawsuit to clear things from there.

  7. “So YouTube just decided that because Audiam said it owned the copyright”


    That’s my guess. YouTube accept the judgement of people like Audiam, who I suspect are logarithm lawyers.

    I fell foul of this sort of thing when I quit pro photography. I got permission from Adobe to sell/transfer my licences for current software. I attempted to sell it on ebay-and was immediately informed upon by some similar legal outfit whom Ebay believed and spoiled my status for a while. I tackled it, went to Adobe’s fraud unit, confirmed I was okay, put the software up for sale again, and was again reported.

    Ebay would NOT listen, and paid no attention whatsoever. In the end, I just gave up.

    I’d guess this is something similar, some snoopy software finds a, “use,” which it finds suspicious and reports it. Google, fearful of legal fights, just pulls the ladder up.

    It stinks.


    • So long as there’s no penalty for false claims, there’s no incentive not to have a computer scan the Internet and automatically file them.

    • The DMCA requires YouTube and other companies where users can post content to remove content that allegedly infringes someone else’s copyright in a timely manner. If they don’t, the copyright owner can sue them as well or instead whoever posted the allegedly infringing content. This encourages a “shoot first and ask questions later” approach. The company is supposed to allow the poster to challenge the claim, and to restore the content if it turns out not to be infringing, but as you’ve seen, most of them have trouble with that part.

      Unfortunately, as Edward points out, there’s no penalty for falsely claiming that someone’s post infringes your copyright. Curiously, there is a penalty (perjury) for falsely claiming that someone’s post infringes the copyright of something you don’t own, or that the copyright owner hasn’t authorised you to act for. So you or I can’t go around shaking down YouTube users by claiming to act for Sony Music, but Sony’s lawyers could falsely claim that someone’s video infringes on a song that Sony Music owns.

      • Sony has filed takedown notices for material that Sony has posted.

        One of the items that takes the cake is when a Copyright Lawyer for Free Software projects gave a talk, it was recorded, and he allowed the organization that hosted the conference to post a copy of the video under a very open license. They then turned around and issued a takedown notice against the video that the lawyer (the actual copyright owner) had posted, and he had to file a lawsuit before they backed off.

        It’s far from the only time that these big companies have filed takedown notices for things that they didn’t own. The automated process assumes that anything in their library is owned by them and has no provision for dealing with the case that something in their library is licensed from others. But there have never been any penalties against these automated processes for filing fake takedown notices.

    • Brendan wrote: “…I suspect are logarithm lawyers”.

      interesting idea… does that mean they themselves use some kind of ‘logarithm’ software to crawl the net looking for violations of their clients’ works?

  8. I just finished a podcast recording of my novel and worked with an amazing sound engineer who has his own composing company. It’s more expensive, but he tailors the music to exactly what you need, and there’s no worry of someone else coming after you. I’m going to use him for my next podcast recording (then go back and replace the royalty-free music on my first one). This is his site: http://www.glebeavenuemusic.com/

  9. What PG says about the DMCA process is true, however as this occurred on YouTube It likely means this is a ContentID match. How that works is every video uploaded is analyzed and matched to a database of copyrighted works. If there is a match the claimant can do one of the three actions listed in the post, or just ignore the match and make no claim. Tuscawilla Creative Services’ case is not unusual.

    Here is a very good explanation by let’s player CaptainSparklez http://youtu.be/In7abHD5CLs .

  10. Dealing with YouTube’s copyright claims is absurd. In the beginning days of learning the ukulele, I recorded and uploaded a bad cover of Bob Marley’s “Three Birds”.


    Like most amateur covers uploaded to YouTube, I didn’t get the rights, paid the fees to do a cover, or whatever else I was legally “supposed” to do. Later I got a copyright infringement claim from some troll saying that my crappy live ukulele cover was infringing on a techno song they owned the rights to.

    YouTube gave me the same crappy options: Take down the video entirely, strip the sound, or let the troll run ads for the techno song on the video. Nowhere was the option to report that their claim was inherently invalid because it wasn’t even the same damn song, let along the same recording.

    Of course, I don’t own the rights to “Three Birds” either, so it’s not like I have any legal ground to fight them back. So now my video plays with ads for this troll’s music.

    • youtube definitely lets people who feel they have not infringed music, photos, text content, file counter-appeals.

  11. Sony/ATV is the most frustrating company to deal with on this kind of thing. We had a go-round with them when my husband tried to get a sync license for a cover version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone.” My husband wrote about the experience [http://skafishblog.skafish.com/2014/08/23/welcome-to-the-no-video-zone-im-really-not-your-steppin-stone/], but suffice it to say that he gave up on the idea of releasing the song.

    Sony/ATV has its own deal with YouTube so it is really confusing why Audiam would be in the picture on this at all. It is extremely well-known in the industry that the Content ID constantly gets it wrong. There was recently an article in Torrent Freak where a company had identified audio of a cat purring as one of their songs. As a label, we refused to join the Content ID program.

    The thing that is really disturbing is that Audiam doesn’t get to decide whether the claim is valid. If someone files a counter-notice, YouTube is supposed to put it back up unless Audiam provides proof they have filed suit in court. Audiam claims on their website that they have a deal with YouTube, but that doesn’t supersede copyright law!

    • Audiam I assume is acting as an ‘agent’ which is required at YouTube if the actual creator is not repping themselves. I wonder in this case, who Audiam specifically, by creator’s name, was representing.

      I agree Glinda re Sony being sometimes frustrating. From all sides; creative talents’ sides, and from potential applicants for license sides.

      We’ve also had instances of TWO hug music companies having ownership of same song by singer/songwriter –and by the time one applied to both, the dollar amount was so high to license, it made no business sense.

      I agree with commenters higher up. We now for years use studio musicians, or talent with no broker in between. Actually we get far more of what we need/like/custom work that way. And talent, like us too, are happy to do a few bars/paras for free if the project is right, or for a reasonable fee if longer than a few riffs/paras.

  12. I guess I wonder why the claimant didnt also go to Sony and make its plaint, as that seems the place where the discrepancy began.

    I’d mention there are lawyers who do nothing other than file infringement claims and demands for money from blogs and others. I keep wondering how facebook avoids being taken down by all the images on it, many belonging to pro photogs just snagged from the net. Our political news website has 25 international writers who post. Each provides own images. We rec’d a claim on an image one of our writers uploaded. Though we took it down immediately upon hearing, the lawyers were ruthless in their client’s service. Out of a substantial amount of money, and sadly wiser. We instituted a policy of pub domain or no image at all, and bought a lic at shutterstock for all to use. Incidentally, didnt matter to photog or lawyers that the image was cited with photog’s name and website.

    Actually, learned there are some far out pub domain images that work great, as well as shutterstock’s more exotic photos which are also great. And all without the burn. I think it’s fine that copyright holders hold on to their stuff. But I like when they release some to Creative Commons if the especially talented people can see their ways clear.

    Also, I have never been turned down when asking any pro Nat’l Geographic photog is we could run one of their photogs with a story or article. Very generous group of people. Some artists no longer control their rights, and that’s where I’ve seen the sticky wickets, with the middle man.

  13. Al the Great and Powerful

    “We rec’d a claim on an image one of our writers uploaded. Though we took it down immediately upon hearing, the lawyers were ruthless in their client’s service. Incidentally, didnt matter to photog or lawyers that the image was cited with photog’s name and website.”

    Just like you’d take offense if somebody took your work and posted it without your approval. Citation isn’t a blanket excuse to put up anything you like, it is documentation of sources.

    • Correct, Al. We knew that, but it’s a big site, and one of our many writers who just came on board, didnt know that. They thought they were being helpful. Now they know.

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