What to Do When a Copyright Claim is Initated on Your Youtube Video For Music You Have the Right to Use

If you use music from royalty free libraries or websites on videos for your Youtube channel, there is a high likelihood that you will eventually get an email with the subject “[Youtube] A copyright claim was submitted for content in…”

Don’t panic. It’s not personal. No one is targeting you. And while it’s annoying to be accused of stealing music, the Content ID system is automated.

Here are the steps to fixing this.

Read the email. In most cases you are in no danger of having your channel shut down, or even seeing the video take down. Most of the time the claimant just places ads on your video and has the money sent to their account. That’s an annoyance, but any money that is collected while the claim is in place will revert back to your account once it’s removed. Still, I normally take the video out of public view, setting it to “unlisted” so only people with a link can see it.

Note the content that has been claimed. Who is making the claim, etc… Is it AdRev? If so, then your dispute process is very easy.

Check your content. Do you in fact have the rights to use it? I’m sure you do. But dig out the library you took the music from, find the name of the track. If you can find the receipt, even better.

Research the claimant and the company making the claim. Every single time I have been flagged for copyright on my monetized videos it has been an individual making a fraudulent claim through a 3rd party. There is a guy in Denmark or somewhere that has claimed dozens of tracks from Digital Juice‘s library, and he uses AdRev to make copyright claims online. He does not own the content.

The last claim I had was from a Canadian using a French Canadian company, so much of the communication was in French. (Thank goodness for Google Translate.) This gentlemen had exported a Digital Juice audio track and added ambient waterfall and bird noise. Then he put that track on an album that is available through iTunes and Spotify. His record company was policing the content they think he owns. So a video using the same track (which I purchased from Digital Juice just like he did.) was claimed.

Contact the company making the claim. You’re first instance will be to start a dispute through the YouTube process. That process can take 30 days. And YouTube is just acting as the intermediary between you and the company. I normally go to the company first, and then start a dispute in a few days. I find that the claims are released wishing a few days.

If the claim was made by AdRev, just go to their website, and scroll to the bottom and click “contact us.” They get so many emails about this they have their contact page set up to hear your dispute. They have now added a place to upload a copy of the license for the music in question. in the past, regarding the Digital Juice tracks, I have just explained the origin of the music and reminded them that the person making the claim does not in fact own the copyright. They know this, they have heard it many times. But they still keep him as a customer and make fraudulent claims against legally used music. In every case so far (so far) the claim has been released within 24 hours. I have had to dispute music like this over a dozen times with AdRev. (One caveat, if you are using a MusicBed track, the account rep from MusicBed must contact them, otherwise they won’t release the claim.)

In other cases, with different companies, I have simply emailed and explained the mistake. I outlined where the music in question was taken from, what library and what track title. I explained the rights to use the music as it was in the video had been purchased from the company owning the library. And pointed out that the person making the claim did not in fact own the rights or have the legal right to claim the music as his own work. And asked for the claim to be released.

In the case of the Canadian, I also pointed out the differences in the audio. I had not used all of the stems from the Digital Juice tracks, and had not added the ambient noise. It was literally impossible for me to have stolen his recording and used it in my idea. the audio in my video did not actually match his. The claim was released the same day.

File a dispute through Youtube. I almost always file a dispute through the Youtube process if the claim is not released after the initial contact. Once you file a dispute, the company making the claim has 30 days to respond. If they don’t respond, the claim is removed. If they do respond and do not release the claim… well, I’ve never had that happen.

Every single time I have ever contacted a company and explained where I got the music and why I legally have the right to use it, the claim has been released. According to Youtube, if the claim is not released, you can appeal. There is another 30 day period. If the appeal is rejected a 2nd time, and the claimant requests a takedown of the video your account will get a copyright strike.

Most of the time you won’t get to this level. I never have. You can find horror stories online, but normally companies are not that difficult to deal with.

For whatever reason, some people think that buying Royalty Free music and using it in some sort of creative work means they have the exclusive right to use the track. They don’t, but their misunderstanding means you may have annoying claims on your videos. Stay calm, and politely state your case. Most of the time you can get them released without too much trouble.

Advertisements

6 things I Learned Shooting My First Short Documentary Film

I’ve been working on a short documentary about my son’s last speech and debate tournament, specifically focused on the Team Policy debates in which he competed. It was a guerrilla style shoot. I had permission to shoot his teammate, but no one else. I could not disrupt the competition any more than any parent with a camera might. No extra lights. No extra people. Just capturing the event in real time with my Sony a6000, 3 prime lenses, and a Rode Smartlav+ microphone recorded into my phone. It was a true Run & Gun situation. Here are a few things I learned…

Story. Doing an actual documentary is different than most of the work I’ve done. I know how to shoot and edit a testimony video, but that’s not a documentary. Before the tournament, I spent time mapping out the structure of the short film. While I didn’t know what would happen, I did know the sequence of events, so I laid out the possible plan and tried to capture the actual events as they happened. As the tournament progressed, I could see how things would fit into my traditional story structure.

Pack Light. Because I was a one man crew, everything I needed was with me, all the time. I had gone through my gear, and left much of it at home. But I was still carrying around a medium sized camera backpack. And I still had gear I didn’t need. In order to grab my camera for a quick shot, I had to take off the backpack lay it down somewhere, open it up and pull out the camera. To downsize a bit more, and make access to gear a bit faster, I just ordered a camera sling bag. It’s large enough to carry a camera and a couple of lenses, etc… But smaller than a back pack and you can sling the bag around to the front, and access the gear on the run.

Invest in a zoom. Lens swapping is a pain. And real life doesn’t wait.

When shooting on a set, there is always time to swap out a lens. In between takes, you can switch over to a different focal length of the super fast prime you have. But in a documentary shoot, people aren’t waiting. Life is happening, the event is going on. Not only do you have a chance to miss the shot, but you might also disrupt the very event you’re trying to capture. During one debate round I was using my 19mm lens, and wanted a tighter shot. I was so nervous that opening my camera bag would be noticed by the competitors. I hope that didn’t happen, I tried to be so quiet. With a zoom, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Which zoom? On the Sony E Mount system, the reach and quality of the 18-105 F4 G series (SELP18105G) would seem to be a good fit. The longest lens I had with me was a 50mm, and I was wishing for longer options. It’s a constant aperture. I wish it was a bit faster, but it would only be a problem in the most dim rooms. I found that most of the time I was shooting f3.5 to 5.6. Of course the ISO was almost always at 1600 in the classrooms. Assuming I can continue to push the ISO that high, losing a couple of stops of light might be a decent trade off for the extra length. But at $500+, it’s out of reach for now.

Another option would be to adapt an older zoom of similar reach. You can often find vintage 35-105mm zooms for cheap. Just read the reviews on each one and make sure you have the proper adapter. Of course, you give up all automatic functions with these. I just ordered a Vivitar (Made by Koburi) 35-105mm f3.2-4 Macro lens for $26, shipped. I already own the right camera mount adapter. It won’t be as sharp or easy to use as the Sony 18-105mm. And I wish it was a constant aperture, but I’m hopeful it can fill the gap until I can swing the money. I’m sure I will still carry the 19mm and 35mm primes I have, but the 35-105mm could be my go to glass for future shoots.

A shotgun mic would help. Prior to the event I though I had worked out how to use a small shotgun (Rode VideoMicro) and record it into my phone. My goal was small footprint. I did not want to call attention to myself. I didn’t want to set up a full size shotgun with an external recorder. I tested the small shotgun, and would have sworn that I had the cabling worked out. But the day before the event I was charging batteries, and set up the mic to test it once more, and discovered that it was not passing signal. I needed a special cable to convert the TRS connection to a TRRS for the phone input. (Rode sells one: the SC7). I didn’t have time to get the proper adapter, so I punted. I ended up using the omni directional Smartlav+ to record audio. And, while it’s not as good as… pretty much any directional microphone at a distance, it was a lot better than the on camera mic. With some post work, some of the audio will be usable. But a shotgun mic would have been a huge help.

A camera with an audio input would help. My a6000 is a solid mirrorless camera. But it isn’t perfect, and one of the flaws is that it lacks an external audio input jack. While I would probably still use the Smartlav+ with my phone, having an on camera shotgun, recording directly into the camera would be good. Even if the small shotgun had worked, mounting the mic to my camera and then extending the cable to my phone would have been awkward at best. A much simpler solution would be to shoot on a camera that actually has the ability to record external audio. Of course the simple solution costs hundreds of dollars.

Get permission. I mentioned that this was a guerrilla style shoot. I got verbal permission from the judges in the room, and competitors. But the competitors are minors. So in order to actually use the footage I shot I cannot show any faces of minors since I don’t have permission from parents. They cannot be recognizable. I won’t identify the location, or even the organization. I knew that going in, so I shot accordingly. It would have been infinitely better to have the written permission from the event organizers, the location, and every parent of every student in each round. That wasn’t feasible for this project. In the future, I want to do more to get permissions, so I won’t be as constrained on the shoot.

As I’m closing in on the final edits of the project, I’m fairly well satisfied with it. Assuming I do similar projects later what I’ve learned with help make them even better.

[Image courtesy of Greenleaf Designs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Help! Some Company Called AdRev has a Copyright Claim on My YouTube Video! – How to Remove AdRev Claims

First, don’t panic. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s annoying, but your video is still viewable. But now there are ads on it, and that money goes to whoever owns the copyright (through AdRev) instead of you.

Now, I know you already have a license to use this music track in your video. Because you wouldn’t, ever use a song you don’t have permission for, right? If you are not sure about what I’m saying, do a search on how to legally use music in videos. This music is someone intellectual property. You should not use it without permission.

Since you have the license to use this music in your video, let’s get about the business of removing this copyright claim. And make no mistake, it is a business. It might feel personal, and you might want to rip off someone’s head and scream down their throat, but that won’t get the claim removed any quicker.

How did they pick your video?

They didn’t click through your Youtube channel and listen to every song. Companies like this use computers to scan the audio in the millions and millions of Youtube videos. if the computer hears part of a song in it’s catalog, it automatically places a claim on your video.

They do not send an email asking if you have a license to use it. this company uses Youtube’s own policies and that of the Digital millennium Copyright Act to pad their pockets. What that basically means is that when they identify a music track that they manage, they place a claim automatically. And you, and the person accused of infringing on the copyright of the music must prove that you have a license to use it. It’s guilty until proven innocent. Youtube is afraid of being known as a place where pirated music lives freely, so they, in my opinion, go too far with regard to copyright claims.

Youtube always sides with the person or company making the copyright claim. If you use the Youtube dispute option, it can take 30 days for things to be resolved. For a month AdRev will collect any money made from people viewing the video. Money that should be going to you. Money that they will pass on to the copyright owner, after they take their cut. For most of us, that’s a few pennies we lose. For a company that manages millions of songs, that adds up to real money. It’s not right, but that’s how AdRev stays in business.

How to dispute the claim quickly.

Luckily, AdRev is a company that does this all the time, so they already have a mechanism in place to resolve their mistake.

First, log into your youtube channel and copy the URL for the video. Copy the long one from your browser, not the short one from the “share” tab.

Then go to AdRev’s website. Scroll down to the bottom, and click on the “Claimed Video?” link at the bottom.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.40.49 AM

That takes you to a form.Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.41.00 AM

Here is where you enter your information, and paste that URL to the video with the claim on it.

In your message, tell them that you have a license to use the video. You will need to explain where you got the music and license, and then ask them to release the claim.

The level of detail you need to use may vary. The first time I got a claim I gave them date and time of when and where I purchased the music library which had the track in it, and included a link to the license agreement for using the track. In other claim disputes I simply said where and when I bought the music.

Once I simply said I had a license without giving details and they asked for more information. So you need to give them something that shows you have the right to use the music. At the very least you need to identify where the music comes from. For instance, I have had tracks from Killer Tracks libraries claimed, and when I identified the source as Killer Tracks and said when we had the license to use the music, the claim was released. Each interaction may vary, since a real person is doing the review.

In the past 4 months I’ve had at least 11 claims from AdRev on music that I have licenses to use. It’s bordering on harassment. But each time I have gone to their website, disputed the claim and had it removed.

The most troubling part of this whole thing is that sometimes people use AdRev to make copyright claims for music they do not actually own. For instance, 5 of my claims have been for tracks from Digital Juice libraries. A man in Slovenia hired AdRev and listed some music tracks that Digital juice created as his own content. Digital Juice does not employ AdRev in anyway. I used one song as the bed for a promo for my show Peculiar. That one song has been tagged 3 times. Every time I have to go to AdRev and tell them that this is not owned by that guy, but is in fact owned by Digital Juice, and I have a license.

So, AdRev knows that there is a disagreement about who owns what with regard to these tracks, because I, at least, have told them every time. But they still have that song in their tracking catalog and still claim it for the guy. And they still get their own cut from each view of the claimed video.

Bad business, all around. It’s annoying. But normally it’s easily settled. Often the claim is released the same day you dispute it with AdRev.

What about songs I made in Garage Band?

I know this happens sometimes. It has happened to me. Garage Band is a fun program that comes with loops that you can use in your own musical projects. Sometimes people use those loops to create a song, and then want to protect their work. Sometimes Youtube or a company like AdRev will scan your video, hear the same loop that is part of their own client’s song, and make a claim. These can be harder to dispute. if this happens, explain that the music in question contains loops from Garage Band, and that the Content ID system has erroneously identified a part of your own work as belonging to the other person. The hope you get a reasonable person to review the dispute. When it happened to me, the dispute was released within a couple of days.

What issues have you had with copyright on Youtube?

Youtube, Copyright, DMCA and AdRev

CopyrightThis morning I got a copyright claim notice from Youtube about a video I created using a song from a Digital Juice library.

That sounds worse than it is. First, I used the content legally. I purchased the right to use it in this fashion. So the claim will eventually be dismissed.

Second, even if I did “steal” the song, Youtube won’t pull it, they just place advertisements on the idea and give the money to the people who own the rights to it.

It’s annoying because I didn’t use it without having the right to do so. And now, for a while at least, I won’t get the revenue (however small) from any advertising on that video. It’s also annoying because the claim came through a very slimy company called AdRev. And a concern because Youtube takes copyright violations very seriously from it’s partner channels.

AdRev is a company that exists for the sole purpose of generating advertising revenue from Youtube content. Their selling point is that they can help content creators to monetize use of their content on “unauthorized, unofficial, and fan videos using your music.”  For a cut of the revenue, their computers scour the massive content on Youtube for music that matches their client’s library. Then they exercise their Digital Millennium Copyright Act  (DMCA) muscle and inform Youtube that a copyright infringement has occurred, and they would like to collect the money from any advertising on that content.

They do not contact the Youtube channel first, they just hijack the ad revenue, forcing the channel owner to prove they did not steal the content. In this (civil) case, guilty until you can prove your innocence. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this same company file claim (erroneously) on a video. Every time I have been able to get the claim removed. But it’s a hassle.

While legally they do not have to contact me before filing a claim, ethically, they should. It’s a slime-ball maneuver to steal my ad revenue this way. It’s not like I’m taking radio hits and using them as music beds. These are royalty-free, buy-out music tracks that are designed expressly for use in projects and videos like this one. It is highly likely that anyone using them will have the license to do so, because they are created and sold for this purpose.

I have mixed feelings about the DMCA in that, as a content creator, I’m glad that I can easily dispute the use of my copyrighted work. I do not like that without a hearing of any kind, companies like Youtube will immediately divert the ad revenue from a given video to the people claiming to own it. In my case, we’re talking pennies. But this is big enough business that companies like AdRev exist. They make enough from this sort of thing to keep on doing it.

A larger concern for me is that I am a Youtube Partner, and in order to maintain that status (and access to higher dollar ad sharing, etc…) I have to stay in good standing with Youtube. Part of that means no copyright violations. I don’t make the huge money from Youtube video ad revenue. This video won’t pay out a whole $1 in the month this dispute will last. But it’s still something from the effort involved in creating the content.

I know I didn’t violate copyright. But now I have to send proof that I can use this music track the way I did.

Youtube always initially sides with the people making the claim. They will immediately divert any revenue, or place advertisements on any content with DMCA disputes. They do not want to get sued by content creators, music studios, movie studios, etc… The last thing Youtube wants is to be thought of as place where people can violate copyright law. They are super strict, and err on the side of “don’t sue us”. That’s great if you have had your content stolen. Bad if someone makes an invalid claim against your content.

How do I get the claim removed?

This time was a bit different than previous claims, since the company I bought the music license from has undergone some changes in recent years. Previously, the simplest way to get the claim removed was to contact the rep for the music company, and they contacted AdRev to get the claim cleared. Since Digital Juice has switched to a subscription model, I am not sure how much action they will take on “legacy” customer’s behalf. I decided to attack this from 3 directions.

I gathered the details of the purchase (dates, order ID, etc…). I emailed Digital Juice’s customer service, filed a dispute with Youtube over the claim, and emailed AdRev directly. In all three instances I outlined the facts, and provided details about when I purchased the license for the track and copied the end user agreement for the content which says I can use it this way.

So, this can play out 3 ways. Digital Juice may contact AdRev and get them to remove the claim. AdRev may process my complaint and remove the claim. Or, after 30 days, Youtube should resolve the dispute in my favor.

UPDATE: That was quick.

Email from AdRev saying the claim was released. And an email from Digital Juice saying that the claim from Ad Rev is not from them, and they provided me with documents proving they own the song, and that I can use it.

It all sounds very fishy to me. The claim was removed.

I sent this reply to AdRev:

“Just so you know, Digital Juice provided me with information proving they own this copyright, and no one else. And they were not the ones who hired you. Someone is using your company to file fraudulent and inaccurate infringement claims. You guys should look into that. “

AdRev responded with “the claim is now removed” again.

Godtube and Intellectual Property: Arrr! Where’s my Eye Patch, Peg Leg and Parrot?

I may start searching Godtube for maps to buried treasure. X marks the spot.

For fun the other day I headed over to Godtube to see how many of the highlighted videos came from Youtube. Of the eight or so I looked at, the only ones that did not have an exact counterpart of youtube were ones put up by Christian companies that sell videos. I hope that there are many original videos on Godtube, but I just don’t see them. What I see are tons of copyright violations.

Our own church was victim of infringement via Godtube. I’ve had friends who have had the same happen.

But, hey, we’re all believers, right? We are just spreading the Word! Does it matter if people watch the video on your channel or the Godtube channel?

I have a couple of questions about that:

1. If it’s just about spreading the Word, or making a clean place for the faithful to watch, who gets money for the ads? Is the person that stole the video sending it over to the person they stole it from? Somehow I doubt that.

2. Who is getting the social media information? Like number of visits, and demographics, and such? Is that information forwarded to the actual video owner? That would be another no.

3. Is the person who stole the video sending viewers back to the owner’s site for updates and to subscribe, and helping build the network of viewers and contacts that social video brings? Again, no.

The ad money generated on Godtube does not go to the owners of stolen videos. The thieves use the videos to build their own following. And since Godtube doesn’t have a way to contact channel owners, those who are violated have to complain directly to Godtube. (In their defense they were responsive when I contact them about our video, so at least there is that.)

Now, I’m under no illusions, I know that the same sort of piracy goes on at youtube. The same video taken and put on Godtube has been copied multiple times on youtube. But youtube isn’t call “Godtube” and isn’t populated by Christians. I expect people who claim the name of Christ to hold themselves to a higher standard.

I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of Godtube. It is the epitome of Christian subculture. The site is a Christian ghetto of copyright violations and marketing to religious people. It is the opposite of being salt and light in a dark world. It’s a bubble of religious content. And as far as I can see, much of the content has been stolen.

If the community at Godtube will not police itself, stronger measures should be taken to protect copyrighted content.

In the meantime, I’m considering adding a watermark to every video with our youtube channel address on it. So even if it is stolen, viewers know where it came from.

(Pirate flag image from free clip art resource.)

Flipboard and Outdated Copyright Law

There is an interesting article about the recently released social reader app for the iPad, Flipboard, and copyright law. While the “scraping” the app does is apparently similar to what Google News does, there is a renewed focus on how existing copyright laws cannot handle new modes of information transmission.

The app, on the surface, appears to just gather articles and posts from various source around the web, and let the user view them in a magazine-like format. If it was able to use an RSS feed to accomplish this, there would be no issue. But, in order to deliver the user experience Flipboard wants, they “scrape” the content from the web and publish it agin through their servers. They call the process “parsing”. In an interview, co-founder Evan Doll said, “It simply wouldn’t be possible to run on the client for reasons of speed and complexity.”

Does the app technically violate existing copyright law? Yes. It takes intellectual property from others, stores it on servers, and republishes it in a slightly different form. At the very least it violates the derivative work and distribution clauses of the copyright act.

Does the app violate the spirit of the copyright act, and use the content in a way that the authors would/should not allow? I don’t think so. Isn’t the point of putting this content on the web for people to read it? I can tell you that using Flipboard has dramatically increased the amount and variety of internet content I view. Instead of having to go to multiple websites, the content is gathered and delivered in an easy to read format. Not only have I continued to read sources that I had already been using, but I am seeing new sources.

In the world of social media, and sharing/liking, the old ways of protecting content do not work. Flipboard is doing what companies should be doing; adding value to the user’s experience. Flipboard is also adding value to the websites and content creators. They are driving users to their sites. They provide a snippet of content, and a link to the full content on the content creator’s page.

Bill Seaver from Micro Explosion Media says the “Golden Rule” of social media is to always add value to the people you want to reach. Do that, and they will in turn and in time take care of you. Hopefully that rule will apply to this situation.

In the same interview from earlier, Doll said, “In the past 48 hours, we’ve received an incredibly positive response from content creators who are happy about being featured in Flipboard, and who want to work with us on doing a better job displaying their content. Hopefully we can do more on this front soon.”

In my opinion, what Flipboard is doing should be explicitly legal. Gathering content from public web sites and delivering them to users should not be illegal, even if the content is passed through a server to prep the content for better delivery. I know this isn’t the most important thing the government should be looking at, but an across the board revisit to the rules surrounding digital content would be welcome.

Current copyright law cannot handle the changes in media distribution and consumption. In the meantime, smart content providers will work with companies that create apps like Flipboard, not against them. They should join Flipboard in making the experience of viewing their content better.