YouTube ContentID System

The irony of an IP prof’s video presentation on “What Composers and Copyright Owners Can Teach Other” being flagged and muted for copyright infringement . . .

In my last post, I embedded video from a presentation I did in 2010 where I play riffs on my guitar, as well as snippets from prerecorded tracks. Given my background as a professional rock singer-songwriter back in the 80s and early 90s (no, not big hair metal, synth pop, or grunge), and my current status as an IP law professor, I switch back and forth between the composers and copyright lawyer’s perspective in the videos.

The presentation was well received by a crowd of lawyers and artists. It has also been a staple of my IP Survey classes for years. It was not, however, well received by YouTube’s automated ContentID system, which flagged one or more of the sound recording snippets and then muted the entire 20 minutes of audio on one of the videos.

Now I have to either change the video or just leave it muted, unless I want to dispute the action. However, YouTube is not exactly encouraging about disputing these actions.

Note that this is a different process from DMCA take-downs (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

I’ll likely dispute it as all the responses I have received so far strongly view this as a clear case of fair use. Depending how this all goes, there might be a number of posts on fair use coming up . . . I’ll post updates here.

Thanks to Rebecca Tushnet, Tom Field, Steven Jamar, Annemarie Bridy, Robert Heverly, James Grimmelmann, Ira Nathenson, Mike Madison, Wendy Seltzer, Jim Gibson, and Blake Reid for very helpful input on this issue.

Rebecca’s blog is here.

Wendy’s blog is here.

Mike’s blog is here.

Ira has a paper in part covering the topic: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1699429

About Sean O'Connor

Sean O’Connor is the Boeing International Professor at the University of Washington School of Law (Seattle). He is also Chair of the Center for Advanced Study and Research on Innovation Policy and Faculty Director of the Cannabis Law &B Policy Project. With a diverse background in music, technology, philosophy, history, business, and law, he specializes in legal issues and strategies for entrepreneurship and the commercialization of innovation in biotechnology, information technology, and new media/digital arts.
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