Content Moderation Case Studies: White Noise Copyright Claims (2018)

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of white-noise-is-from-the-public-domain department

Summary: These days, virtually every platform hosting user-generated content is required (usually by law) to have policies in place to deal with copyright infringing material. However, not all of the content on these platforms is covered by copyright, which can potentially lead to complications, as policies often assume that everything must be covered by some form of copyright. .

Australian music technologist Sebastian Tomczak, with a doctorate in computer-generated music, created from scratch a 10-hour recording of “low-level white noise”, which he uploaded to YouTube. He created the file himself, then made a video version of it and posted it on YouTube. In early 2018, he discovered that there had been five separate copyright claims on video from four separate copyright holders.

Each of the claims argued that other white noise videos owned the copyrights to the white noise and that Tomczak’s video had been infringed by itself. Funnyly, each claim points to which short segment of the 10 hour video violates their own work – even though the entire 10 hours is literally the same white noise.

None of the claims required the removal of the video from Tomczak, but instead aimed to “monetize” it as part of YouTube’s ContentID offering, which allows copyright holders to leave the videos they claim violate, but divert advertising revenue to the copyright holder.

Incredibly enough, a copyright holder claims that Tomczak’s video infringes two separate videos, both of which also feature white noise.

One company involved – Catapult Distribution – claims that Tomczak’s composition infringes the copyright of “White Noise Sleep Therapy”, a client selling the title “Majestic Ocean Waves”. He also manages to do the same for the company’s title “Soothing Baby Sleep”. The other complaints come from Merlin Symphonic Distribution and Dig Dis for similar works.

It appears that all of the complaints were automated complaints, using various services that analyze videos for similarities. However, it doesn’t appear that any of these services first check whether the original videos actually involve valid copyright in the first place. Instead, they are often based on an entire account and only search for similar videos whether or not there is a valid copyright.

Decisions to be made by YouTube:

  • Is white noise even covered by copyright?
  • Should the platform allow users to claim monetization rights on other similar videos for which there is no valid copyright?
  • If there are multiple copyright claims (and monetization claims) on the same video, how do you determine who owns the rights and who can monetize?
  • Should automated systems be allowed to claim copyright regardless of the actual status of copyright?

Policy issues and implications to consider:

  • If copyright laws and policies are based on the assumption that every piece of content is copyrighted, how should websites handle situations where there does not appear to be a copyright right? valid author?
  • What are the long-term implications of automated systems that do not involve real lawyers or experts to review copyright takedowns or monetization requests?

Resolution: Tomczak seemed to find the situation more entertaining than anything else and noted that he had received a few similar notices in the past. He expected that after disputing these claims, YouTube would probably drop them:

“In any case where I think a given claim would be a problem, I would challenge it by saying that I could either prove that I did the job, have the original materials that generated the work, or show enough of components included in the work to prove the originality It has always been a success for me and I hope it will also be in this case.

Indeed, a few days after disputing the allegations (and these allegations received widespread press attention), YouTube lifted all complaints on the white noise video. Tomczak separately argued that this case – even with the end result – suggests parts of the system need to change.

“I hope cases like this with white noise, which shows how their copyright system is broken, can shed light on that or get YouTube thinking about changing their system,” he said. he declared.

Originally posted on the Trust & Safety Foundation website.

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Filed under: content moderation, contentid, copyright, dmca, white noise
Companies: youtube



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