Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Tom Scott (UK) has major video about copyright and musicians (and all other creators, for that matter)

I wanted to review a 42-minute video by Tom Scott (UK), “YouTube’s Copyright System Isn’t Broken. The World’s Is” here, because if may apply to musicians immediately more than anyone else.  This is not an easy time for musicians, given the lockdowns.

I’ll list some things he talks about and probably revisit these later on one of my Wordpress blogs.
This video really is like a short film that ought to be in the festivals.

Part 1 is “The Mess We’re In” and talks about some infamous copyright cases in the music world, with Warner Chappell and later Miley Davis.

Another of YouTube creators grew up in a world where everything is “free” and don’t understand when they are tripping on a system designed to provide artists a living particularly before the Internet, where there were well established businesses and entities in the system.  Generally, a music video has copyright elements in the composition itself (Brown illustrates this by playing Johann Pacbelbel’s Canon on a modern piano) and a performance license. 

Also many transformative videos taken from music require what he calls “synchronization licenses”.
Then there is the issue of making a patchwork video of different songs, which is legally problematic unless there is direct criticism (not just rearrangement) of the elements.  I know that these issues also apply to hymnals and anthems in churches (which have their own copyright world to consider;  when I went to MCC Dallas back in the 1980s, one of our members was a major hymn composer, and he even lived in my own condo complex in North Dallas).

Part 2 is “No copyright infringement intended”, which is an ineffective disclaimer on many amateur videos taken from prior music or film.  He talks about companies like Pixsy and Jukin which have gone after some na├»ve people.   Adaptations must be truly transformative or critical.  He also talks about the controversy over gif’s (which has been around since 2000) and a company called Giphy.
He also discusses the issues of photography copyright licenses, and maybe even panorama. People have generally been lax in the photos they use on blogs and are exposing themselves to suits.

Part 3 discusses YouTube’s Content-Id, which by and large works, except when it doesn’t.  DMCA Safe Harbor in the US is about the best we can do.  There are problems, like white noise creates copyright problems.

Part 4 is “Where do we go from here?”  He talks about the small claims court, called Enterprise Court in London (where he walks around – before the lockdown!)  He is somewhat critical of the way the proposed Case Act would work in the US.  He also discusses the need to make copyrights expire, and suggests that it is even conceivable that without reform productions of Shakespeare would have to be licensed.
I was surprised he didn’t mention the EU’s Copyright Directive, especially Article 17 and the “mandatory filters” issue.

The picture is from Waynesboro PA and is mine (from 2010/3/10) and an original. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

How artists, comedians and musicians deal with the Cornavirus shutdowns

Charles Passy at the Wall Street Journal talks about the problems now with artists, musicians, comedians, and entertainers now that everything is closed, in this podcast.

Lenny Marcus, Jordan Klepper, Sumire Kudo, and Nathan Vickery speak on the podcast.

Friday, March 06, 2020

How NYU Law School got copyright strikes over a video explaining controversy about music copyrights

Adi Robertson for the Verge explains how the NYU Law School temporarily got copyright strikes from YouTube for posting a meta-video about lawsuits in the music business, especially containing examples of suits over melodies or beat patterns.

Virtual Reality (Richard Hoeg) explains the case in the video above.

In popular music, revenue is everything and “melody” or its rhythmic transformation (as in percussion) is a real issue.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Composer defends another creator with a video on a copyright claim and has his own monetization seized

Adam Neely describes a layered ironic situation where he made a video helping defend a musician (Katie Perry) with the song “Dark Force” with publisher Warner Chapel from a claim for using a melody and ostinato from “Joyful Noise”.  He was deprived of monetization of the video, which was claimed by the publisher.

The case is very complicated and has to do with YouTube’s automated algorithms and filters (even more required now in the EU) and even a manual review, and confusion of melody with ostinato.
I have gotten notices before on my videos that have incidental background music outside, where publishers have claimed potential revenue (even though my channel is not monetized), and sometimes a few of these videos cannot be shown in certain countries now (especially in the EU).
I thought I had covered this case before, but I don’t find it on my blogs.

Neely's earlier video on the lawsuit from 2019 is here

Monday, March 02, 2020

Can you copyright dance moves?

Remember the movie Napoleon Dynamite?  Can dance moves be copyrighted?  After all, they aren’t in a physical form.
2 Milly, a rapper, had sued Epic Games, saying his dace act “Milly Rock” had been recreated in Fortnite in a number called “Swipe It”.
NBC News and Variety reported that Epic had moved for the suit to be dismissed.
Generally, you can’t copyright moves themselves, but you could copyright the written choreography of a ballet (which is often changed for different performances of the same work, as with Tchaikovsky). You can also put the moves under non-disclosure agreements.
This reminds me of the issue of copyrighting melodies. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

A composer and lawyer generated all possible melodies on a hard drive to make a point about copyright law and music

Adam Neely interviews Samien Ruhl and Noah Rubin, who made a Ted Talk about generating every possible melody (68.7 billion of them) and putting them on a solid state hard drive.

The melodies were generated by a brute force process, based on pitch classes to the power of the number of notes in a melody (88 ** 10).
The exercise is a proof-of-concept trying to show the logical absurdity of copyright lawsuits threatening musicians for taking another’s melody.  There is an issue as to whether the offending composer “heard” the other melody before (had “access”), but if the plaintiff has 3 million views or more it is presumed the defendant should have heard it. The specific case involves” Dark Horse” infringing on “Joyful Noise”.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Playing a violin during brain surgery

A woman plays the violin during brain surgery.

She is kept away and occupied to prevent damage to her motor skills. The operation, to remove a benign brain tumor, occurred in the UK.   I couldn't identify the music, it sounded "populaire".