Copyright Issues



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DISCLAIMER! This article is about my experiences with false copyright claims. This is not a critique of the copyright system, only of the automatic copyright claim bots used on websites like YouTube or MediaFire.

Part I: The Claims

My first experience with a false-positive copyright claim was on YouTube when one of the pieces of music I made in GarageBand caused a video to get claimed. Twice in fact, once for each song I used. Now you would think that I could just appeal these claims with whatever proof they needed, right? Unfortunately this was not the case. (It should be noted that before submitting the appeal, I did my research and I am, in fact, allowed to use the loops provided by GarageBand for personal or commerical use.) Once I submitted the appeals, I was happy to see that the first was withdrawn, however that was short lived when a few days later I discovered that my second appeal had been rejected. (Thinking about it now, I wonder if I could have pursued that further since now a real person was saying that they owned something that they did not.) Another interesting fact about that claim is that I could not find the copyrighted music I supposedly used anywhere online, and believe me, I looked.

My second experience wasn't a claim but instead a takedown. I had been hosting downloads for the music that I made in GarageBand (same songs that caused trouble on YouTube) so I could link to the files on my website. I eventually discovered when linking to one of them that they had just been removed with 0 warning and could no longer be downloaded. Below is an image of what you get if you visit the download page.

If you're interested, here's the song I uploaded. Definitely not what it says it was.

Part II: Why These Claims Happen

Most of these sites, especially ones like YouTube and Twitch, use bots that check audio in your video against samples of copyrighted music. The biggest issue with this system is that if any other sound matches a sample, the video or stream will be claimed. Here's a ScreenRant article about it. (Not endorsing ScreenRant or their content, it was just the first good article I found about the issue.) The reason these false claims make it through is that there's nobody checking them, as soon as the bots detect something it thinks should be a claim, it just goes through with that. Programs aren't perfect, but it sure seems like they expect them to be. Judging from which of my songs were claimed, the reason was most likely that they contained a loop that was present in the copyrighted music that was supposedly playing.

Part III: Fixing The System

So now we're at the part where I give my thoughts about how this issue could be fixed. Remember that these are my opinions about this could be done. The first and most obvious solution is to have the claims verified by a real person. I would imagine that a large number of these false claims would stop happening if there were people who could check these and notice that the claimed content sounds nothing like the music that supposedly is being used.

Another, albiet more difficult, solution would be to improve or change the way these bots compare the source content to the copyrighted content. Evidently the "sampling" method leaves too much of a margin of error. One of the most obvious issues with it is that there are plenty of loops that you can either buy once or just use for free and if they're used in a piece of copyrighted music, then any content uploaded that contains that same loop will be claimed, as I've experienced firsthand.

Now obviously I don't make copyright claim bots, so I don't understand everything about how they work. I'm just hoping that my thoughts (and the thoughts of many others too) won't fall on deaf ears.

And with that, we've come to the end of this article. I know that this article was less fun for exciting compared to the Wii DVD Icon adventures, but this is something that I've wanted, needed really, to talk about for a while. -NinjaCheetah