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Sunday, 11 September 2016

If a fan uploads your music to YouTube

Imagine if you were a rock star. 

You write songs, perform songs, and sing on stage. You give concerts. You go on international tours and roadshows. People really love your songs, and some of them come up to you saying, "Your song changed my life. I was going through a hard time when I heard your song ...."

The music executives love you. They want you to crank out hit after hit, year after year. And you've already gone platinum with a few of your past albums. Never mind that you had a tough life for half a decade singing incognito in nightclubs. Never mind that you scrimped and scraped with a half hungry stomach and a smile. You've made it. And the millions of adoring fans everywhere love you for it.
Imagine if you were a famous singer, and someone uploaded your music videos on YouTube.

Then one day, you see your music video on YouTube.

Whoa. Some people really love your music. But then they've decided to upload a bunch of music videos to YouTube. The general public also loves your music so much that the videos have a few hundred thousand views. And to think that it was uploaded only some months back. 

And then you notice that there's an advertisement in the middle of your music video. Or maybe there's a banner saying "Lazada" or something like that, at the bottom of your music video.

You realize then that someone is making money from every view of your music video. Every time your music video is playing, YouTube is putting an advertisement on top of it. Or in the middle of it. And none of that advertising revenue is not coming to you.

"Shouldn't I be getting the advertising revenue since it is my music video?"

So you get your lawyer to contact YouTube. 

Your lawyers, dressed to the nines in their trademark coat and tie, cobble up a suitably worded letter to YouTube. 

"Dear Sirs," the letter begins. "It has come to our attention that our client's music video has been unlawfully and unjustly uploaded to your website. We are instructed that the music video is our client's intellectual property and our client has not authorized anyone to upload the music video to your website. We are instructed to demand that you remove all traces of the music video within twenty four hours of the receipt of this letter failing which your wilful refusal neglect or negligence shall constitute a continuing breach of our client's rights. Failure to heed to this letter will attract legal action." It concludes with a merry "We look forward to your positive response" and an obligatory "Thank You". 

The lawyers slap each other on the back and congratulate themselves for a job well done. They expect YouTube to come running, begging for mercy. They plan to take Google's letter and frame it up on the wall, where it will be the ultimate testimony of the reach of their legal strategy. "See!" they will cry. "Even Google has to quake at the sight of our letters!"

But they forget that YouTube has faced this problem before. 

Every so often, Google gets a letter from a copyright holder. The letters begin with some variation of: "There is a music video on your website. It belongs to our client. Our client demands that you take it down." 

The Google execs shake their heads. Who would want to visit YouTube without all these hits? Who would come to YouTube just for the shaky home made videos? 

And so they figured out a way that YouTube can keep the videos on the site, and pacify you at the same time.

It's called "Content ID".

Hey, Content ID

We take protecting creativity online seriously, and we’re doing more to help battle copyright-infringing activity than ever before. Today, we are releasing an update to our "How Google Fights Piracy" report, which explains the robust programs, policies, and technologies we have put in place to combat piracy online.

Here are a few highlights from those ongoing efforts:
  • Leading the industry in finding copyright solutions that work: We go above and beyond the requirements of the law to lead the industry in finding solutions that work. Content ID is a great example of this. Content ID goes beyond a simple "notice-and-takedown" system to provide a set of automated tools that empowers rightsholders to automatically claim their content and choose whether to track, block or monetize it on YouTube. Content ID is a highly effective solution, and today over 98% of copyright management on YouTube takes place through Content ID, with only 2% being handled through copyright removal notices. 
  • Providing new revenue streams for media industries and content owners: Content ID has also created a robust new revenue stream for the content industry. YouTube has paid out over $2 billion to rightsholders who have monetized their content through Content ID since it first launched. In fact, today well over 90% of all Content ID claims across the platform result in monetization. The music industry chooses to monetize more than 95% of their claims, opting to leave the content up on the platform - half of the music industry's YouTube revenue comes from fan content claimed via Content ID. Thanks to Content ID, YouTube is also the only platform that gives partners an automated way to directly monetize background/incidental use and covers. 

From the Google Public Policy blog.

If you read that correctly, it means that when YouTube receives a complaint about infringing videos, here's what they will do. (Or what I think they will do.)

First, they try to confirm that you are who you say you are: The owner of the music video. Because why else would they want to layan (pay attention to) you? 

Second, they enrol you into some fancy online tools to manage your intellectual property which has been uploaded to YouTube. Using these tools, you can choose to issue a takedown notice, or monetize the content. 

Third, if you choose to monetize the content, which is your content, then that's when the advertising revenue starts getting diverted to your account. But if your choose the takedown notice, the music video will disappear.

Google is saying that more than 90% of claimants choose to monetize their content! That's probably what you should do, too. Monetize it. After all, you didn't need to upload the music video in the first place. So keep the video online and let the millions enjoy a listen once in a while. Because they love your music, man. And they'll love your music videos even more if the album is out of print.

In the meantime, you can wait for the YouTube advertising revenues to come rolling in.

Thanks for reading.

Here are some other pieces from me.

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