For those not in the know, YouTube has had a bit of trouble recently with various record labels and movie distribution studios. The suits in charge of these multi-national media conglomerates want complete control of their creative property [ed. note: That they themselves didn’t actually create]. As such, they really get their panties in a twist when they see people upload videos that contain their copyrighted material to the largest video sharing site on the internet.
YouTube has tried to fan the flames and strike deals with these media companies, as the people that own most of the accounts on their site are just regular Joes, like you or me. Since we can’t defend ourselves from these big companies should we accidentally (or not) encroach on their property, YouTube has accepted the role of moderator.
In a metaphorical way, YouTube is like the parent who is met with an, “I hate you,” by the child they had to scold. YouTube willingly accepts the blame when people yell at them for taking down their video because it used a clip from a TV show or a snippet from a song owned by these companies. But like a scolded child, our lashing out against YouTube is just a knee-jerk reaction that we don’t really mean. The real enemy isn’t YouTube — they’re just saving their asses from getting sued. The enemies are the litigious companies that threaten YouTube. (And the media companies would call us the enemy.)
One deal that YouTube has come up with is to have advertisements for the movie/song in question embedded as pop-up ads in the video itself. The page which hosts the video will also have banner ads on it, displaying information that’s (sometimes) relative to the video’s content. Not a bad deal, right?
Well, several companies didn’t take kindly to that — they wanted COMPLETE CONTROL of their assets, and so they pulled out. Now YouTube has been forced to institute a zero-tolerance policy with ANY video that has anything to do with NBC/Universal, UMG, Viacom and (since December) Warner Music Group. I want you to understand that when I say zero-tolerance, I mean ZERO-tolerance.
Yes, even if you’re in the band, your record label won’t let you upload your own music videos to YouTube.
I told you all of that so that I could tell you this: I recently had a dust up with YouTube.
With my Inappropriate Soundtracks (refer to the sidebar for a link to my YouTube page), I mix and mash up music with film to make a pop culture casserole made of crap. As you can imagine, given the current climate over at YouTube, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with copyright infringement. I’d argue that it’s parody/satire and since I’m not making money off of them, it could be considered fair use, but it doesn’t matter. (Zero-tolerance, remember?) I’ve had about 8 videos total get taken down at YouTube due to copyright infringement, but the video I uploaded this morning was special.
They allowed the video to stay, but they removed the audio because I used a song owned by the Warner Music Group in it. I was left in a weird situation; my videos NEED the music to be funny, but I didn’t feel like taking down the video after all the work I put into it and after several people had already seen it. What was I to do?
Well, I took a stand and turned the video into a platform in which to present the copyright issue as satire. I added (childish) annotations to the video making fun of WMG and how companies view us Joe YouTubes. Click the link below to see the fruits of my labor. I hope you get a chuckle.
[My mute, yet annotated, Wizard of Oz Inappropriate Soundtrack video]