False copyright infringement claims are a real problem for YouTubers, it seems.
How do I know this? Well I recently had false copyright infringement claims made against me and when I looked into it, I found thousands of people practically spitting blood about how copyright infringement claims are ruining their YouTube lives.
This post is about my fight with the online entity that tried to claim copyright on my work and, about the eventual outcome.
As an amateur YouTuber, I do everything I can to avoid copyright infringement claims.
Like many bloggers, I extended my activities to include making films to put up on YouTube. As a former journalist, I have a degree of knowledge about UK copyright law and am vigilent about avoiding copyright infringement claims.
On the occasions when I want to use well known music in my videos, I accept that I will lose the monetization rights to the entire video.
When we use copyright protected music, it gets picked up straight away by YouTube's Content ID system. And I am sure most reasonable people would agree, it's fair enough that if you use music created by someone else, they should have the right to any money your film makes.
Perhaps not all of it as we do work hard on our films but, that is what the rules are and we know that.
So I try to avoid using any music that will channel the few pennies I make out of my films, to someone else.
It is important to say at the outset, sometimes copyright infringement claims are valid and we do need a system that protects everyone's work.
However, we also need a system that protects innocent people from false copyright infringement claims because they waste our precious time.
So how did I fall foul of copyright infringement claims when I was SO careful?
Well back in the summer of 2014, I made a film about a random public piano player I met at St Pancras Station in London.
It was one of my first films for YouTube and I was just dabbling around, learning about putting clips and stills together.
It isn't a brilliant film, but it is my film - it is part of my journey into all sorts of creative endeavours and I don't go for perfection, I go for enjoyment.
At the end of the video section, I put a series of stills that I snapped in between shooting film clips.
I needed some copyright free music to play for a very short time while the stills were on screen.
One of my many creative hobbies is composing music from Apple loops in Garage band and in 2014, I had put together the short song you see below (click the arrow to play it).
Anyone familiar with Apple loops and the Garage Band software that comes with Mac computers, will know that you cannot copyright music you make entirely from Apple loops.
I am no musician but after studying Garage Band closely for sometime, I figured out how to 'compose' with the loops. I use Apple jingles a lot in my videos and so using music I put together myself using the loops in Garage band was the next logical step.
It also meant I would have music in my film that would not attract any copyright infringement claims - or so I thought.
It also meant I would have full monetization rights over my film - or so I thought.
My film sat happily on YouTube with no copyright infringement claims for over a year.
It was no blockbuster - I think it has only had something like 87 views to date - but that is not the point. The point is, it was an exercise in learning and exploring and I was so careful over the music.
So imagine my shock when I received this email two years after I wrote my blog post about the St Pancras piano man and put the video up. (See the blog post by clicking here.)
My channel, by the way is called Rainbow Lane, which was the name I chose when I first put films up - I am about to change it.
Say what? But I made that entire song from Apple loops? There is no copyright on Apple loops (well except for Apple Inc I suppose). They are free for anyone to use - and, you cannot sell them.
I was shocked. Someone was claiming the song I made from Apple loops in 2014 was now under copyright (and curiously, in 2016!) to someone called Hans Bolex who called 'his' song Au Revoir. I checked it out. He claimed it was performed by an orchestra (his track appeared to be the same Apple loops as mine but with strings and percussion Apple loops added) and was selling it for some ridiculous amount of dollars on some music website. Really? Really!
But there was no problem they said. You're not in trouble! Oh goody - thank you so much for not coming down on me like a ton of bricks for doing absolutely nothing wrong - I'm so grateful, I could kiss your copyrighted boots. NOT!
They went on to say that the 'copyright owner' would either be getting the revenue from the ads running on the film or, receiving the viewing stats on my film.
The nerve of these people astounded me. So I could keep my video up there, with the 'copyrighted' music and they would just pocket any money my video made. Well I don't think so Sonny Jim - I really don't think so.
Disputing copyright infringement claims on YouTube is a 'risky' thing to do - or so I am told.
If you push it all the way and lose, you get a copyright strike against you. Three strikes and apparently, they blow up your YouTube channel.
That did not deter me at all. I knew that I had not infringed anyone's copyright.
I did some research and found that there several companies like AdShare MG For A Third Party, the one that tried to snare me, operating in this heavy-handed way by making copyright infringement claims against innocent people.
It appears that they are making life difficult for YouTubers. I found lots of people who had made music from Apple loops and had copyright infringement claims made against them on YouTube.
According to one guy, small people like me, with only a meager income from YouTube videos, are more likely to get hit because we are too afraid to fight back. The pennies made from thousands of people like me would add up for them I guess.
I was fuming after I read rants from people who had been through this. I watched some spectacular videos of from serious YouTubers with large followings. One was practically in tears with anger (see second video below) over persistent copyright infringement claims.
The two videos below show the kinds copyright infringement claims people are getting on their YouTube videos. These videos are from back in 2013 - so this has been going on for a long time. I got mine this year, 2016, so it doesn't look like it will stop any time soon.
So how do I approach false copyright infringement claims on my channel?
Well when I received the email you see further up this post - I disputed it straight away by hitting the dispute button and checking the appropriate boxes. I also explained very clearly that my song was made with Apple loops and therefore could not be copyrighted by anyone. Not even me. I am not bigger than Apple Inc.
My action meant that any money coming in from ads on the video would not go to me, or the claimant, while the dispute was going on.
They had 30 days to respond. Meanwhile, I contacted YouTube with the following message:
I created a piece of music in Garage Band on my Mac several years ago.
It was composed by me, purely from Garage band
loops. I used it in one of my YouTube videos which has been live since July
I have just had a copyright notice about it. On investigation I find
someone called Hans Bolex is selling this track online as his own
composition in 2016 and is claiming monetization rights on my YouTube
I have filed a dispute as this is wrong. The music is my own
creation from Garage Band loops - anyone can use those loops.
I can send you the names of the loops and the sequence I used to make the music.
This person needs to be stopped from claiming Garage Band loops are his
copyright! Please help as this is not right.
I work very hard on my videos and I am upset that this person is fraudulently claiming monetization on
something that is not his. He has simply used the same Garage Band loops as
me (AFTER I made mine) and added some others which are available to anyone.
I received an answer from YouTube which you can see below.
So YouTube, it seems, does not get involved with false copyright infringement claims.
I sat back and waited and eventually, I received the email you see below.
Seriously? AdShare MG for a Third Party - I mean seriously?
So I contacted Apple Inc to see what they had to say about people bullying Garage Band users and hitting them with copyright claims on loops owned by Apple Inc.
The Apple guy I was put through to just laughed when I explained my situation. He said:
"Tell them if they want to sue anyone, they will have to sue Apple Inc, not you. The dispute will be with us. They won't want to take us on!"
Well of course they wouldn't - if AdShare MG wants to claim that someone has violated the copyright on Han's Bolex's alleged piece of 'original' music, (which at the time, was being sold online, with no mention of it being made with Apple loops) then of course, it goes beyond me to the real copyright or licence holders - Apple Inc.
Apple gave me the link to their legal notice about the use of Apple loops and I appealed against AdShare MG for a Third Party's decision.
“You may use the Apple and third party audio content (“Audio Content”) contained in or otherwise included with the Apple software, on a royalty-free basis, to create your own original soundtracks for your video and audio projects. You may broadcast and/or distribute your own soundtracks that were created using the Audio Content, however, individual samples, sound sets, or audio content may not be commercially or otherwise distributed on a standalone basis, nor may they be repackaged in whole or in part as audio samples, sound files, sound effects or music beds.”
So meanwhile, while I waited for the outcome of this ridiculous claim, I made the video you see below to show exactly how I had 'composed' the song that I simply called 'Piano Song'.
I wanted to demonstrate why it is ridiculous for anyone to put these loops together, claim it was recorded from a 'live performance', put it up for sale online and then claim copyright when someone else uses the same loops (in my case, I had made my song two years earlier anyway.)
A monkey could make this music because someone else did the real work for us, ie creating melodies, in loops, for us to play around with.
But really the only legal result there could have been. So the moral of this story is, if you make YouTube videos and you make musical arrangements for them in Garage band using only Apple loops - do not be intimidated by false copyright infringement claims.
Fight them the way I did because if not, these people just ride rough shod over small, amateur YouTubers who make pennies for themselves.
If we don't fight, the few pennies we make on our own add up to quite an income stream from us as a group for the people who make false claims on our hard work.
After the false copyright claim against me was released, I made the following video.
Have you been the victim of false copyright claims on YouTube? Do you make videos for YouTube? How do you deal with finding copyright free music? Please scroll down to the 'leave a reply' section and let me know your thoughts on false copyright infringement claims.