Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Youtube claims I don't own my own film (mdotstrange.com)
281 points by angrycoder on June 17, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 77 comments

I do not work for Google/Youtube (or BMF), but I have experience with their systems. The short version is that YouTube has an automated tool that scans for duplicates of copyrighted videos that have been uploaded by verified creators. It looks at every upload and compares it against a library of known videos for video and sound issues. When it gets a hit, it automatically classifies the video as containing potentially copyrighted content. Sounds like this got hit by the automated scanner.

Nothing in the notice means that BMF made a claim against this video in particular (in fact, it sounds like it's a private video, so there's no way BMF could review it). It's not a DMCA issue at all -- this is a system that YouTube chose to put in place completely unconnected to any DMCA claim system.

Sounds like this automated scanner result is wrong. I believe there is an appeal process, where a human will look at the video. Also note that the video is not being blocked in the meantime; it's still available.

The bigger problem that comes up is how can YouTube deal with the flood of video copycats (ever notice how every popular video leads to 20 copies of the same thing?) without stifling independent artists whose work gets a false positive in the scan system? It's an interesting challenge to get the right mix of false positives and negatives.

Please post what happens after you try the appeals process -- this could be a simple fix and I'd be curious to know.

Edit: Here's an overview of the automated "Content ID" system: http://www.youtube.com/t/contentid

It is still available alright, but someone, not the content creator, is making money off the video due to the ads being placed on the video. That is unfair to the content creator.

How long will it take YouTube to review the video? What possible actions are there? I understand that YouTube provides video hosting free of charge (and makes money from advertisements) and that this stuff can happen, but it seems entirely unfair... how can I get my content added to their content ID system so that people don't re-upload my stuff?

> how can I get my content added to their content ID system so that people don't re-upload my stuff?

There's a signup form here: http://www.youtube.com/content_id_signup

Is there any penalty for adding content you don't actually own to the content ID system?

I don't know, but it has happened. News companies post videos that they actually find on youtube because it is part of a story, then the original video gets a copyright claim made against it.

Ahh, I think I see the confusion you have. In America, the term "content creator" does not in fact refer to people who create entertaining or informative things (aka content), but to legal entities which have enough money to buy laws, bribe law enforcement to do their bidding, and extort large and small companies into absurd revenue share schemes. It has nothing to do with people actually doing work. The quaint notion of "artist" and "copyright protection" are just abstracte technical terms with clever misnomers, that exist to excite and confuse the masses into supporting this arrangement.

In America? First of all, I'm impressed that you're able to speak on such a grand scale as to paint a very large, very diverse nation with such a simplistic and sarcastic brush.

Second, what exactly was the value in posting that? As a means of making a point, it's obnoxious at best, and useless at worst. Surely there's a better way to contribute to the conversation.

There are many problems with the north american intellectual property systems. The post certainly could have communicated in a far clearer manner though.

I will try in the orignal posters place.

1) Copyright law. It is indefinitely extended. Is this right? It is certainly true that the term "content creator" extends past the point where the actual content creator lived. Ok, so the law says that corporations are people. They own the content! But since they do not die, is copyright truly indefinite?

2) Lobbying in the US. Corporations can "donate" to politicians and essentially buy their positions on copyright and enforcement matters. This is a problem. The government should not be able to be bought.

3) Extortion. A combination of copyright and patent laws, that are perhaps overly broad, allow those with established positions and a lot of money to force innovative newcomers into the systems the incumbents put in place which exists only to funnel money into the incumbents pockets. Small companies do not have the funds to be able to adequately defend copyright or patent infringement cases, regardless of the merit of the claims.

None of these are easy problems, but they are none the less problems.

2) Lobbying in the US. Corporations can "donate" to politicians and essentially buy their positions on copyright and enforcement matters.

I often hear people in the US complain about this, and sometimes make reference to US Supreme Court rulings that allowed companies to donate as much as they want, and these activists want this laws repealed.

You note that political corruption is not unique to the USA right? You know bribery and donations can take many forms even if you remove 'corporate personhood'? Lots of countries have a problem with corrupt politicians.

But American laws are important because America claims jurisdiction over .com, .org, and others. And people who do something that is not a crime in their country but is a crime in America, even if they are not in America and their servers are not in America and their users are not in America can be deported (or face severe actions) in their home country; or can have the US forever closed off as a destination.

The UK has a few problems, but we're remarkably free of corruption. Most of ours is stupid people offering "access" to a government official in return for a donation to a party, or not declaring expenses correctly. Certainly nothing like the transparent buying of influence available in other countries.

The UK has a few problems, but we're remarkably free of corruption.


Yes, that would be one of the few problems.

Looking at the results of leveson we see a lot of sleazy illegal behaviour from journalists, and we see too-close relationships between politicians and press, but we do not see people paying bundles of cash to influence policy.

Who knows how deep the rabbit hole goes.

And if a newspaper says "Promote this policy and our newspapers will help you win the election" ("it's the sun wot won it"), then that's hardly any different from a big pile of cash.

Of course political corruption is not unique to the USA. Really, we have a much better situation than many parts of the world.

What's different though, is that the US law will often serve as a sort of template or "social proof" when it comes to something like extending copyright. The next step is enshrining it into treaties or law in other nations.

And how corruption being worldwide makes it less of a problem?

It doesn't make it less of a problem. But it shows how the specific laws in the USA are not the root cause of the problem. Change the culture, don't just overturn Citizens United.

Laws are (among other things) a reflection of culture. You can change the law and trigger culture changes.

As was shown during prohibition in the US. The challenge isn't changing the culture by legislation, that's easy. The challenge is changing it in a particular desired way.

And your point is?

My point is that its not totally the law's fault. Changing the law without changing the culture will not totally solve the problem.

> hey own the content! But since they do not die, is copyright truly indefinite?

There's actually a fixed statutory period on corporately owned works, given that the life + X years scheme wouldn't work very well there. But yes, they have extended it and can be expected to lobby for further extensions, most likely by trying to convince different countries to leapfrog each other in the terms they offer.

This is pretty much the conclusion and central tenet of Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture, and in it you can see the genesis of his next book, Republic, Lost, exploring the corrupting power of money in politics.

Free Culture is itself freely available online, highly recommended reading: http://manybooks.net/titles/lessiglother04free_culture.html

> In America? First of all, I'm impressed that you're able to speak on such a grand scale as to paint a very large, very diverse nation with such a simplistic and sarcastic brush.

He's commenting on federal law, which indeed applies to the United States as a whole, or do you claim otherwise?

'diverse nation'? Last time I checked, America consisted of twentysomething nations, one of wich in the habit of speaking for all of them.

America is the widely used casual name for the United States of America. Context matters.


"America usually refers to either:

"The Americas, a landmass comprising North America and South America

"The United States of America, a country in North America"

This actually is reasonable since US is the only country with `america' in its name. Other countries have fancier names that can be used to easily recognize them.

I DO work at YouTube, and for some time I've been working on CMS, YouTube's frontend to ContentID that allows copyright owners to claim their content, set automatic policies, etc. I can confirm that what Slapshot wrote was essentially correct.

This case was an automatic audio match. Somebody from BMF has looked at it, and the claim has been released. Note that this happened around 5 hours after the dispute, and less than 8 hours after the automatic claim was created, which I believe is a pretty great turnaround time on a weekend.

It's not accidental, they make money doing this and there is no penalty when they get it wrong, so doing this makes "business sense".

Previous cases:





In addition to these media covered cases, I have noticed cases of very old public domain works being seized by corporations with no involvement in their original creation.

So the solution to this, as with anything where getting caught and punished is infrequent and high costs are imposed on the victim, is to set damages high enough to make the expected return from this strategy non-positive.

If they owed $100k every time they made a false takedown, they'd probably be a lot more careful in the future.

I agree with you that harsh penalties for blatantly false copyright claims done in bad faith would help greatly. However there is a much larger problem in that the victims of these scams are small regular guy artists and content creators and the scam perpetrators are multi-billion dollar media organizations that control the media that advocates for new laws and have the congress, who ignores "small person feedback" in their back pocket with their SuperPAC and other bribery schemes/"campaign financing". How to solve that problem is the one that keeps coming up. Despite many realizing what a problem this situation is and discussion going on about it for many years, things only get worse, such as with the Supreme Court's Citizen United Ruling in 2010.

This isn't a DMCA takedown, it's a system Google put in place to avoid being sued by lots of copyright holders. $100k is nothing compared to the $1B lawsuit Viacom already filed, and other companies will have no problem filing similar lawsuits if Youtube doesn't toe the line.

I hate to break it to all the people that failed to read, including the OP, but the hated acronym you want is BFM not BMF.


As for judgment on the actual issue, I think ContentID bends over backward to big content to forestall more heavy handed moves, at the expense of bad mistakes like this one.

It looks like it's profitable for BFM to claim or create lots of media clips so they get paid for these ads, in the interim period before the creator appeals. To fix it the incentives would have to change.

Here's a prior example where BFM erroneously claimed a license to a classical performance, which messed with ContentID.


Youtube should punish BFM's mistake.

I'd be interested to hear (both from Youtube and from people caught by ContentID) about how hard it is to fix these problems.

I also want to know what happens to the ad revenue - do Youtube just keep it; or do they still pay it to the original company; or do they attempt to claw it back at some point; or do they pay it to the real creator of the work?

YouTube has been sued several times in both the US and Europe, and if it didn't offer this system, far worse more draconian systems would be legally mandated. YouTube recently lost a case in Germany where the judge imposed a less accurate filter on YouTube: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120420/11573918587/huh-to.... This is a regrettable situation, that the OP got caught up in a detection system, but YouTube must do this kind of stuff, otherwise, the courts will mandate it. Not having it just lends more ammunition to SOPA/PIPA backers as well.

BMF violated his copyright. They claimed ownership and tried to exercise rights over the distribution of work that wasn't theirs. There are legal remedies for this. They're pirates.

Indeed. If this had a been a private citizen as opposed to a corporation, you can bet the heavy handed "justice" system would have its wheels turning already.

This reminds me of the war on terror where it seems everyone is considered a terrorist as if that will solve the problem.

Regular law abiding people are accused of being terrorists and resources are used to chase shadows.

It's the same thing in this situation everyone is guilty unless you can prove you're not, meanwhile the real crooks are nowhere to be found.

Did BMF actually make a claim? The creator seems to imply that he uploaded the video as a private one so far, which means that BMF can't have made a claim unless corporations are allowed to scan even private videos?

Could this possibly be a case of YouTube mistaking something in the video as similar to something registered to BMF?

When I disputed the claim I learned that BFM is claiming a wind sound from a "Sounds of Nature" CD they own the rights to has been infringed upon-so apparently they own the wind, all wind. So beware when recording the wind with your digital recorders, those evil copyrighted natural content devices!

Thanks for all the tips! I'm reading through these comments now.

It seems to me that algorithms for identifying similar sounds would be likely to find an lot of pretty generic noises similar to a sample of wind -- other wind, distant traffic, etc etc.

As such, BFM giving such a sample to Youtube's automated infringement detector strikes me as copyright trolling -- it's inevitably gonna get lots of false positives, and they get to make a bit of money off each before the YT appeals process works itself out.

Wow, that is just pure evil! They're making a total mockery of the copyright system and I'm relishing the idea of someone exposing them for who they are. If they don't resolve this reasonably, would you consider taking them to court? Is it financially feasible?

You're allowed to copyright a recording of wind, just like you're allowed to copyright a photograph of a lake. The dumb part was putting into Youtube's system to look for similar ones.

What if we float the possibility that it's not evil, but just incompetent and lazy? It seems pretty likely that they learned they could upload all their content in order to protect it and then did so without any input from someone who knows anything about the fingerprinting algorithms and where they were likely to fail.

It seems that the fault rests squarely on YouTube for not getting this right.

I would claim that being willfully "incompetent and lazy" in a way that harms others IS evil.

This has happened to a band I was part of - we posted a self-produced video for an original song a few years back, and it was denied for monetizing because I "couldn't prove I had all the rights necessary".

I'm honestly starting to think this planet would be better without any copyright protection at all.

Nice thought until you spend a large sum of money to create something personal and someone copies it and starts stealing your potential audience.

In turn you'd get other things people spent large sums of money creating.

Eventually you would get no people spending anything on creation because it would simply be cheaper to use something that someone else has already created.

There are some forms of art which can survive on minimal economic returns. There are other forms of art which will not.

There may be different ways to make non-minimal economic returns without copyrights.

If there are no copyrights, who would be stupid enough to continue acting as though there was?

Fair thought, but here is another one: Don't hate the game, hate the players. Yes there are problems with copyright protection laws, just like anything man-made. Except, the bigger problem is in people, their ideologies and cultures. Those who think it's okay to rip someone's work and put their name on it, that's where the real problem is.

The game rules are in place, some abide by them and some don't.

It's funny, when you pour your blood sweat and tears into creating something you certainly feel a sense of ownership over the damned thing; it's your baby. But at the same time, witnessing much of the absurdity emerging out of the current state of copyright law, I'm starting to wonder whether you might be right.

I just have no idea how such an economy might operate and still remunerate creators for their work.

Humans created way before any one invented money. What you mean is, the high end wont get filthy rich. Real creators and innovators rarely think of the money, yet still create.

If it really is your "baby", then keep it to yourself, keep it safe. I wouldn't let any baby of mine out in to any marketplace alone.

For most of history, artists operated under the patronage system and were paid to create works. Almost every dead artist from the pre-copyright era who is still revered today was either a product of the patronage system or born into a wealthy family.

I would try suing for damages, especially if their claims are denying you the ability to make money. I think you might be able to sue for slander as well, since they made the claim that you are stealing licensed material, which will affect your reputation as a producer of original content.

I don't see how one could consider this slander/libel, since the allegation was completely private until publicized by M dot Strange. Obviously reputation would not have suffered if the claim remained private.

Their reputation with YouTube might be damaged. Prior claims against his account might negatively affect him.

Slander? Not a chance. I do not think you understand what the requirements for a slanderclaim are.

Tortious interference with a contract, perhaps. Copyright violations, perhaps. But not slander.

Upload it to Vimeo. I know the audience is smaller, but they seem to be much more friendly toward content creators than youtube.

I disagree. Uploading to Vimeo is a treatment for the symptom, not the problem. I'm rooting for an internet uproar over this.

Actually, the problem is definitely YouTube in this case. BMF didn't file a claim, YouTube's automated detection flagged it improperly. It's a question of both the accuracy of automated content detection systems AND why YouTube -- despite having no legal obligation -- is bending over backwards for giant record companies.

Because YouTube has been sued several times in both the US and Europe, and if it didn't offer this system, far worse more draconian systems would be legally mandated. YouTube recently lost a case in Germany where the judge imposed a less accurate filter on YouTube: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120420/11573918587/huh-to...

This is a regrettable situation, that the OP got caught up in a detection system, but YouTube must do this kind of stuff, otherwise, the courts will mandate it.

I don't know, market forces can be quite persuasive sometimes. If YouTube keeps up this heavy-handed approach, it's bound to lead to a climate of anxiety and resentment amongst its uploaders. In an environment like that, it wouldn't take that many prominent content producers making the switch to Vimeo to trigger a mass exodus.

It's never a bad thing to vote with your feet and no product or service provider should ever take its market prominence for granted.

Does the DMCA have a provision allowing BMF to be sued for improper claim? If so, someone should actually challenge them.

I believe youtube's takedown process isn't strictly a DMCA feature. From the submission it looks like it's not even a takedown, it's just a thing where google is letting someone put ads on other people's videos if they claim copyright and possibly bully them, but it doesn't look like they're serving DMCA notices.

Edit: The comment at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4122258 was posted while I was typing this post and is a lot more informative. :)

Could the moderator who changed the title please explain why? Normally I would not care, but now it reads as if I am the film creator.

If the titles on HN now have to match the article title, you should just change the posting guidelines. Coming along 12 hours later and changing a post title is just power tripping.

I wish you the best of luck Mdotstrange (if you didn't see it, he posted in this thread claiming BFM actively claimed copyright over the sound of wind.)

Yes, piracy and copyright infringement is rampant, but by both individuals and corporations. A great example is the Amen Break. If you've got 20 minutes, I can't suggest this video enough for everyone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SaFTm2bcac

It's in everything from old hip hop, to Oasis' "D'You Know What I Mean?" to the original Futurama theme song!

And all used with, according to the creators, absolutely zero royalties. (And they're fine with it, having been told. They get it.)

Sampling happens a lot in music. Using a few seconds of someone's performance in your very different song probably falls under fair use, or it might even meet the "transformative" criterion for being a completely different creative work. There's another discussion about this issue going on: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4120691

One of my music videos on YouTube is blocked in Germany with a note that it infringes copyright. I wrote the music and the lyrics myself. I shot the video myself. I'm the sole copyright owner. The appeal didn't lead anywhere. It was detected as such because it's likely registered on Content ID because it was published by Sony, the record label. But Sony does not have the copyright. Still. Nothing I can do. (Even calling up Sony to resolve this didn't lead anywhere.)


Nope, the soundtrack is 100% original as well.

That's no excuse, there needs to be a stiff penalty for such mistakes. If I ended up automatically DDoSing a site when all I meant to do was scrape, I'd still get arrested right?

Would you really get arrested in that case? I'm genuinely curious -- I've made a "mirror_website" console command for myself, so I should probably be careful with that if this is true. =)

You would in India where I'm at!

I don't know. I'd think in order to DDoS a website you meant to scrape, your scraper would have to involve your botnet.

O boy, I don't think there's anything that looks worse than the new Blogger themes in Opera Mobile. Unreadable, unusable.

It's not much better on the desktop, in my opinion.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact