YouTube Pulls, Censors Videos with Warner Music

Dennis Faas's picture

Have you considered making a video for YouTube? Do you think it would be cool to add in some hard-driving rock music for that drag racing video, or pump hip hop into a skateboarding demo? You may want to think twice, as music studios continue their crusade to rip copyrighted tunes off YouTube.

The latest engagement between YouTube's amateur video content producers and the music industry involves Warner Music Group. According to reports, Warner Music is currently crawling the popular Google-owned video site for any of its songs and zapping those it finds. What could it mean for the average Joe dropping some background music into his disc golfing video? It could mean an end to the music, or in some cases, an end to the video altogether. (Source:

A new year, a new attitude

Although Google has deals in place with various other music companies (making this kind of a witch-hunt rare), Warner is an exception. While the two companies did strike a deal permitting copyrighted Warner music content on YouTube last year, the same pact has not been renewed this year.

In other words, it's not cool in 2009 for YouTube users to include Warner music in their videos without permission.

In fact, because there's no 'grandfather clause' exempting videos that were produced when a deal was in place last year, any and all videos using Warner music can be stripped of their music or blacked out entirely.

"Filters end up sideswiping lots of fair uses."

YouTube's solution isn't much of a solution at all.

It's not yet clear if Google is working on a deal or not, but in the time being a Content ID tool will censor any videos using Warner music. That doesn't sit well with copyright freedom lobbyists the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, which finds that these censorship systems are "still primitive and unable to distinguish a transformative remix from copyright infringement." According to EFF representative Fred von Lohmann, "unless they leave lots of breathing room for remixed content, these filters end up sideswiping lots of fair uses." (Source:

Just in case you're wondering what artists work for Warner music, know that the list is a long one. Prominent names include Madonna, AC/DC, Motley Crue, and Missy Elliott. (Source:

So, think again before slamming down some "Thunderstruck" for your peewee hockey clip.

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