How to deal with a copyright claim—YouTube version
May 25, 2016 7:52 PM   Subscribe

I made a trailer for a math class using Battle Without Honor or Humanity (not very creative, sorry). Now I'm embroiled in a copyright claim and I'd like to know how to respond. I checked some old asks, but they're three years old or so.

I got a claim right away saying I couldn't monetize the video, which is fine by me. Then recently (a few years later), I received another claim: "Your video might contain copyrighted content. Copyright owners can choose to block YouTube videos that contain their content."

I disputed it, saying that I searched the song on youtube and verified it was freely usable, and also saying that it was an educational video (which it is). Unfortunately for me, "After reviewing your dispute, SME has decided that their copyright claim is still valid."

There's a link about appealing but google threatens me with "strikes" or something when I click on it, and those sound bad so I think I'd like to avoid them.

So anyway, I was wondering which if the following things I should do:

1) Appeal,
2) Embed the video on my website so my friends and students can still see it,
3) Never show anybody the video again, as I will get sued, or
4) Other?

Thanks in advance!
posted by middlethird to Technology (15 answers total)
Where did you get the idea it's free to use? It doesn't appear to be in the public domain (like a piece whose copyright has expired, for example). Being in an educational video does not equal an exemption from copyright law; fair use doctrine is more complicated than that. In your non-lawyer shoes, I'd probably take it off YouTube.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:58 PM on May 25, 2016 [12 favorites]

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "searched the song on youtube and verified it was freely usable"? This song appears to have been composed/recorded in 2000, which I believe means it's still under copyright in the US.

Additionally, educational use does not automatically mean Fair Use is in play - from coursework I've taken in instructional design and online education, there are a number of factors which need to be met for Fair Use to apply. Educational purpose is one, but isn't necessarily sufficient on its own.
posted by augustimagination at 8:00 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm no copyright lawyer, but just because someone else has uploaded a video on YouTube with the song in it doesn't mean that the copyright holder doesn't have the rights to press claims on videos using their music without permission.

My understanding is that SME has the rights to decide who gets to use their music, and without having obtained prior permission, it isn't legal for you to do so (except in certain circumstances which fall under the fair use doctrine, which usually applies to criticism or parody of the work in question, and which is also complicated and hard to rely on).

As for "strikes," Google's way of dealing with persistent copyright violators (such as the people who upload soundtracks like the one you linked to!) is to limit the use of certain YouTube features for people with one strike of copyright violation, and to terminate the accounts of those with three. I'd take the video off of YouTube, though that doesn't actually resolve your strike (you do that by completing YouTube Copyright School and waiting six months for your strike to fall off).

As for hosting it privately, I doubt the copyright holder has the resources or inclination to chase after you, but they'd be within their rights to.
posted by Kortney at 8:06 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

4) Other?

Write your own music, pay the people who wrote the music to use theirs, use no music.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:12 PM on May 25, 2016 [6 favorites]

Sorry for the confusion, what I meant by "searched the song on youtube and verified it was freely usable" was when I first disputed the claim, it gave me lots of options as to why I was disputing it, including something along the lines of "I'm allowed to play this song".

(I'm being vague because I can't retrace my steps inside of youtube for some reason.)

There was a link for searching songs after this step, and the top hit was: "Battle Without Honor or Humanity", Kill Bill soundtrack, freely playable in all countries.

(Or something like this; again, this is from memory.)

To be fair, there were lots and lots of other songs listed, some of which said they weren't freely playable. I used the audio from the Kill Bill soundtrack though, and it was the top hit.
posted by middlethird at 8:13 PM on May 25, 2016

'Playable' from YouTube's perspective isn't the same as 'legal for you to use.'

The song is under copyright, it seems. Pay for it or use something else.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:16 PM on May 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

Contact a librarian at your school. They're the experts in educational fair use, and will at minimum give you a framework to approach this from (IANALibrarian, but have worked with them at my college with development of online content that includes copyright...)
posted by zinful at 8:16 PM on May 25, 2016 [6 favorites]

In terms of copyright disputes, YouTube doesn't want to know if you can find another video with the song in it. When they say "I'm allowed to play this song," they mean "SME has given me permission to play this song." Just because someone else tossed it up and hasn't been hit with a copyright claim yet (or even if SME put it on themselves for your listening pleasure!), doesn't mean you can reuse the song in your own work.

I'll second zinful that a librarian at the school should be able to give you a better idea of the situation, and if educational fair use comes into play. I'm no expert, but I've messed with music licensing before.

And, to be honest, I'm not 100% sure I'd be hosting the video on the school's server if there was some concern about whether the rights to the song were in order. Just a thought.
posted by Kortney at 8:22 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure what YouTube's "freely playable in all countries" means, but given that this music is from a movie soundtrack, it's probably under copyright and probably not freely usable for creating other works. That's something others may know more about.

However, if it does turn out that you can't use it, you'll could always get some new music. I know you probably have stuff timed with the song in your original video, so new music isn't _ideal_, but maybe it won't be that bad.

Here's one way to get new royalty-free music:

> some stock music tracks for sale - I searched for "epic conflict"

> one example -- it looks like you could get it for $12 I _think_.
posted by amtho at 8:25 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks everybody, looks like that music/video is a no-go!
posted by middlethird at 8:30 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

My friend the IP lawyer says "Fair Use is a defense, not an excuse." You can still get dragged into court no matter how strong your claim of fair use, and you can still lose because a judge and jury are people who might not like you and interpret your actions as disrespectful of the rights-holder or any other reason, and rule against you.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:37 PM on May 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

In three clicks I got to Tomoyasu Hotei's contact page on his website. Next time you want to use an artist's work, write them and ask for permission before taking it.

You might be pleasantly surprised to find they will give you permission if you ask (I've had that experience) and not charge you.

And if he wants to get paid, pay him. I'll bet you don't teach for free, artists deserve to get paid too.
posted by brookeb at 10:44 PM on May 25, 2016 [10 favorites]

I'm not an IP lawyer either, but I'll state with thorough confidence that a tune written only 16 years ago by a currently working composer who isn't even 60 yet is absolutely still under copyright.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:03 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think what happened is maybe not quiiiite as 101 as "you don't own the copyright." I mean you obviously don't, but YouTube does actually have some blanket licensing deals with major music labels that I believe cover synchronization. If the piece is labeled "freely playable in all countries" then that could possibly mean that it is covered by such an agreement. (It could also just mean that it is possible for you to license it separately but that you'd have to pay for it.)

Unfortunately it sounds like Sony objected, so whether it was allowed at their discretion before or never allowed, I think that's kind of the end of that. But if you want to figure out what the situation is, you might have the most luck asking YouTube support to clarify, since I think the legal situation around music sync at YT really is kind of weird and specific (e.g. it's my understanding that a lot of covers are actually legally covered on YT even without seeking advance permission, but would not be if you just put them up on your own website or even uploaded them to MeMu, because YT has actually obtained some blanket sync licenses in return for profit-sharing -- and in the past it has actually been kind of opaque which covers were actually in the clear since it was near-impossible to find that info anywhere!).
posted by en forme de poire at 2:39 AM on May 26, 2016

(For alternative soundtracks at affordable costs, try Jukedeck. Each song is made by an algorithm.)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:46 AM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

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