This’ll be a tiny bit of a rant, but it is an opinion piece and its purpose is to illustrate how all those ACTA, PIPA, SOPA, DEB, Net Neutrality and other battles being fought to prevent the corporations gaining control of our internet, aren’t just abstract technical issues for geeks.
A few days ago, immediately after the EUFA EURO 2012 ’100 days to go’ press conference in Warsaw with the Polish Minister of Sport & Tourism, Joanna Mucha, about 100 international journalists and bloggers were entertained by the ministry at a dinner. They had a trick footballer who performed a routine with a football and got some members of the press corps to compete for prizes by attempting some of his tricks. Many or most of the journalists watching pulled out their cameras and phones to take photos and video. I recorded some very amateur video (people’s heads in the way) because I thought my son might like to see it.
I should have dumped it onto a flash card and handed it to him (I wish I had), but I started uploading it as an attachment to an email, and then realised it would take him too long to open it, so I stopped and uploaded it to YouTube instead, setting the privacy level to private (only those with the url can see it).
Imagine my astonishment when I get an automated notice from YouTube saying:
Dear propodservices, (Propodservices is the redundant name that I originally used to set up my account. Google won’t let me change it)
Your video, Trick footy, may have content that is owned or licensed by UMPG Publishing.
No action is required on your part; however, if you’re interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.
- The YouTube Team
At this point I must confess to being a little naive for somebody so involved in tech & social media. I thought it was something to do with the name I’d given the file – Trick Footy. ‘Perhaps this publishing company has a video or game with the same name?’ I thought. So I angrily filled in a dispute form saying in effect that my video was entirely original and had nothing to do with them.
Of course it was only then I discovered this and realised there is now a whole world out there of claim & counter-claim in which the corporates or ‘copyright kings’ are judge, jury and executioner on YouTube.
So it turns out Google’s Gestapo Algorithm (my deliberately provocative name for it) sniffed out the music this footballer was performing to (I wasn’t even aware of it) and decided it belongs to one of their clients… to whom it promptly handed over the responsibility for deciding whether my video is infringing their copyright!
What happens if Google’s paymasters decide they do own the music heard in my video? They can block it. It’s more likely though that they will place an advert on it, which means revenue for them and of course a slice for Google. That’s what the weasel words: ” No action is required on your part; however, if you’re interested in learning how this affects your video” are all about.
This is going to make Google SO popular (not) with every user who innocently posts video of their family get-togethers, parties, weddings, etc – anything with music in it!
Worst of all, if/when my accuser turns down my claim that the video is entirely original, I will probably acquire one ‘strike‘ on my YouTube account – meaning I am a copyright infringer and one third of the way to having my account terminated for being a serial copyright infringer… as decided, not by Google or an independent third party, but by a copyright owner.
Needless to say, I’m not feeling warm and friendly towards Google or Google’s YouTube any longer. I have just opened a Vimeo account (why on earth didn’t you do that before?, ask all my pro-videoblogger friends!) and don’t expect to be using YouTube for any more postings.
And the video clip itself?
Well, time has already moved on. My son watched a bit of it over my shoulder, sniffed ‘meh’ and walked off! So, job done. I’ve deleted it now.
Have you been caught out by Google’s Gestapo Algorithm? Will you avoid filming scenes with background music in future, or just avoid YouTube?