Thousands of user-created videos- or at least their audio tracks - have disappeared from YouTube, and the question is who's fault is it?
The New York Times reports that many YouTube users have found themselves in the same position as high school sophomore Juliet Weybret, who posted a video of herself playing piano and singing "Winter Wonderland."
Her video was removed “as a result of a third-party notification by the Warner Music Group,” YouTube informed her.
But Warner says it's not their fault.
“We and our artists share the user community’s frustration when content is unavailable. YouTube generates revenues from content posted by fans, which typically requires licenses from rights holders. Under the current process, we make YouTube aware of WMG content. Their content ID tool then takes down all unlicensed tracks, regardless of how they are used,” said Will Tanous, a spokesman for Warner Music.
In other words, Warner provides a very long list of copyright materials and Google's tool goes through and wipes them all out, regardless of how fair the use might be.
It's yet another example of how broken the DMCA regime is. Google believes it is legally obligated to take down every instance of a reported copyright work. More to the point, the scale is so huge it sends its robots out to do the takedowns.
Under DMCA, users can file an objection to the take-down, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Fred von Lohmann says:
“People are somewhat intimidated by the possibility of being sued by one of the music companies, even if they have a free lawyer, like us."
So a very large amount of fair-use works are simply taken down, and the digital speech that is the currency of our modern age simply goes offline.