If you’ve been anywhere near YouTube recently you cannot have failed to have seen one or two of the many thousands of complaints made by content creators about YouTube’s entirely ludicrous Content ID and Copyright Claims Systems. The former flags any and all similar sounding musical content - regardless of fair use terms, licence agreements or permitted alternative version use. While the latter allows anyone and everyone to claim ownership of any music - regardless of whether they actually own the rights. What is shockingly happening is that unscrupulous companies and agencies are applying blanket copyright claims even where no music is present - targeting even just someone discussing or mentioning a particular artist’s or band’s material.
Other incidents have seen copyright strikes on a single chord played or a highly common sequence of just 4 vanilla chords. In further bizarre instances we have seen these unscrupulous agencies claiming copyright on public domain and rights-free content, and even claiming their own remixes and cut-and-paste jobs are the original - when they are registered several months or years after the actual original. The proper originators are finding copyright strikes against them when someone else has used / remixed / or wholesale just copy-pasted the whole track under another name.
All the time YouTube is trying to abdicate itself from any responsibility - even though it is YouTube’s own systems and processes which are at the root of the problem here. The way the process currently works is that there is a total lack of any independent adjudicator or proper adjudication process. If you have wrongly been targeted by a copyright strike you have to take it up with the party that made the claim - whether or not that claim has any merit - and there are no penalties for false claims.
So the major record labels - EMI, UMG and WMG as well as the obviously dodgy 3rd party agencies - Believe Music, CD Baby and Orchard Music are just copyright sticking everyone and anyone without any rhyme or reason. They have obviously taken on teams of troll operatives just to blanket bomb any slightest tenuous connection with their own recording libraries - actual and invented. Larger YouTube channels can fight back with lawyers - while smaller ones are just being decimated - and several are seeing nearly all their legitimate revenues being diverted elsewhere.
Of course what is badly needed here is an independent arbitrator / adjudicator whom content creators can appeal to - who can rule fairly on the basis of fair use, eduction, critique and commentary. And provide proper rulings when copyright strikes are correctly as well as improperly applied. Moreover there should be fines and quarantines by any agencies abusing or misusing the process - as seemingly all the major record labels are currently doing.
If YouTube does not get its act together here - I see the time ripe for some sort of revolution - and Amazon or Netflix even can move in with their own public video platforms - with proper independently arbitrated copyright claims systems in place from the start.
As for the EU’s Article 13 - this again has been largely brought in by the BPI and major Record Labels which are the ones who are already abusing the Copyright Claims system on YouTube and other platforms. What was always needed here was an independent arbitration process - not more ill-conceived legislation. There were already plenty of rules in place - they just weren’t being properly monitored and supervised and Article 13 invites more confusion and abuse and actually strikes at the heart of creativity and freedom of expression.
Of course you cannot simply copy-paste someone else’s material - that should obviously be copyright struck - but making genuine cover versions like PostmodernJukebox / Scott Bradlee does, making musical technique, review and commentary videos too should be fair game within the fair use terms. YouTube has been a really vibrant creative space, and there is a continuous stream of new talent arising - while the old guard are trying to claw back any penny from any derivative - however tenuous
The same does not happen in any other major artform - Jackson Pollock could not copyright his style of splatter painting, nor can Frank Miller really copyright some of his graphical themes - which have been much copied and improvised on within the comic book industry. Music and Movies are really the only artform where near thematic similarities are regularly whisked into court without proper due consideration.
It is likely now that every musical sequence has been recorded - whether in classical, Sicilian folk, electronic, pop or rock format. Something that sounds very vaguely similar should not really be hauled into court - it should be submitted for consideration to an entirely independent arbitration committee/panel - staffed wholly by technical experts - who can deconstruct and properly come to a conclusion - based on proper music theory.
I have included here a few of the key videos which emphasise just how bad the Content ID / Copyright Claims Process has become - and how Article 13 will likely make things even worse:
The BBC also has an interesting write up on some of the key points pertaining to Article 13 - [here]