Your video may have music that is owned or licensed by WMG.

Argh, WMG can suck my balls. I must admit that in *all* the years of the DRM / Copyright / file sharing / Napster debate, I’ve never really been hit by it. Although in principle, DRM or similar is kind of annoying – I mean, I paid for it – I should be able to do what I want with it, right? Well, no, not at all – you just bought a license to listen to the music. The reason I’ve never really got in to downloading music – either illegally or legitimately through iTunes is two-fold – 1) I don’t trust myself to remember that I’ve bought some music in case I start deleting stuff and 2) I have an ever growing CD collection which I’m proud of, and I like having the actual CD.

OK, slight tangent there. Anyway, I’ve just been bitten – albeit algorithmically – by the copyright debate. Shortly after I got my new Macbook Pro, I was farting about with iMovie HD and making some silly videos. These included a bit of my brother’s dog, and a trip when we went to a shooting range, and shot some guns. Hardly ground-breaking or Cannes-winning stuff. In fact, they’re so amateur that they’re pretty laughable now. But nevertheless, they were good fun when I was putting them together, part of which was figuring out the soundtrack. I spent ages working out the best tunes to back my brother’s dog running around in a park (Jungle Brothers) or being driven around in a car (Passenger, by Iggy Pop).

Anyway, some of my videos got WMG’d at YouTube. On some of these videos, I now just see a message that says

Your video, Seven Stages of Dog – Part 2, may have audio content from Growing On Me by The Darkness that is owned or licensed by WMG.

Obviously referring to the part where Iggy (a 2 year 50lb bull terrier / shepherd mix plays with Dante, a 130lb Italian Mastiff, with humourous consequences).

So the point is, WMGs access to YouTube and its algorithms to analyse all videos to find illegal use of their music has caught me out and the music to the video is muted. And that makes the video even more dull than before. What’s unusual however, is that there are other videos I have made that use exactly the same styles, but they didn’t get flagged. And a cursory search of YouTube shows thousands more videos with copyrighted music on arguably much bigger or questionable videos. So obviously whatever software they’re using isn’t perfect.

But I’m still struggling to understand how my use of the music for my crappy “home videos” can really be damaging them and I’d argue that my use is “fair use”. It’s not for profit, it’s clearly not for anything sensible or real, it’s just a bit of fun for me and anyone who might be interested (which, judging by the view count, is not many) and whereever I use music, the artist is credited for it. If anything, I’d go the opposite way and say that for the odd few people who actually watch these videos, might think “oooh Ocean Colour Scene, haven’t heard them in a while” and go and buy a CD. (Or fire up Limewire I suppose.)

Well needless to say, I find it all very crap. This sort of thing can only stifle the creativity that places like YouTube are slowly opening up. Fat little kids who previously had no lives are somehow “cewebrities” because they get creative with a webcam. (Ooer!). But no, WMG can’t monetise it (yet) so their decision is to pull the plug. Of course, you can use the “AudioSwap” – i.e., a list of public domain tracks that are free for use – but how long before they’re used up and everyone’s videos starts to look very very similar. In fact, it gets worse. I saw one poor who had her videos deleted for singing her favourite bands music!

If I really cared enough about this, I’d find a list of all WMG’s artists and never buy their music again. But I don’t, so I won’t. But still, it’s tiresome and officious, and is nowt but a sign of things to come.

So on a lighter note, here’s another video I made that doesn’t have any copyrighted music. It is obviously a blatant rip off of a movie, so quite how long it stays out there, well, who knows.

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