Warner Music Group: All your memories belong to us

Warner Music Group: All your memories belong to us

Summary: I would consider myself to be a law-abiding citizen and as a writer, someone who has respect for copyright laws, particularly as it applies to the written word and major works of media, such as music, television shows and movies.

TOPICS: Hardware

daffy by you.

I would consider myself to be a law-abiding citizen and as a writer, someone who has respect for copyright laws, particularly as it applies to the written word and major works of media, such as music, television shows and movies. So I completely understand why a company like Time Warner (or even ZDNet's parent company, CBS) would be aggressive in protecting those copyrights, particularly in cases where music videos and TV shows are being uploaded in their entirety to popular video sharing sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, in high-quality formats. This type of blatant content theft is unnaceptable and the media companies that own this content are perfectly within their rights to have it removed.

That being said, there is also the issue of copyrighted content and what situations constitute Fair Use. One such area of Fair Use I would like to touch on is when it is used within the context of a unique work, such as home movies and video slideshows.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

My wife Rachel is a big fan of putting together video slideshows -- she's been particularly adept at doing this for family anniversaries, birthday parties, and gatherings of friends, where she takes a whole bunch of pictures and sets them to music. She likes to use a Windows program called DVD Photo Slideshow to do this. It allows you to string together photos and videos as well as accompanying music with transition effects to produce your own DVDs and MPEG videos for different sites and player formats. Rachel produced one for me last summer for a major barbecue event that I photographed in New York City. If you like meat, you're in for some serious food porn.

ZDNet Download: DVD Photo Slideshow Professional

Recently, Rachel had a 20-something anniversary reunion of a large group of friends from her synagogue's youth program, and produced a 1-hour video with over 400 photos from the party which was set to thematic music. The list she chose was the following:

You've Got a Friend, James Taylor Glory Days, Bruce Springtsteen Summer of '69, Bryan Adams Like a Virgin, Madonna Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Billy Joel And We Danced, The Hooters Rebel Yell, Billy Idol Shout, The Isley Brothers Rebel Rebel, David Bowie Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin Last Dance, Donna Summer That's What Friends Are For (LIVE), Dionne Warwick and Friends

It's not exactly what I would call a hot playlist, but hey, what do you expect from a bunch of 40-year-olds. In any case, to easily provide this video to her friends, we encoded it in MPEG4 XVID format and uploaded it to Vimeo.

Having some concerns that uploading it with full quality audio might be too tempting for the piracy fairies, I purposely degraded the audio quality to 48 Kbps monaural so that nobody in their right mind would bother stripping the songs off. It sounded fine for the purposes of watching a slide show, but if you closed your eyes and listened to it on a PC, it was really crappy. But that was entirely the point, and I thought we were within the boundaries of Fair Use since the value of the audio was negligible and the audience -- a whole 250 people -- was relatively small.

Today Rachel recieved a notice from Vimeo that Warner Music Group lodged a complaint about the content in her video, and it was removed from the site:

Dear Rachel Nash Perlow:

This is to notify you that, as a result of a third-party notification by Warner Music Group claiming that the material is infringing, we have removed or disabled access to the material that appeared at http://www.vimeo.com/3591152.

If you believe that your material has been removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification, please provide VIMEO's Copyright Agent with a written counter-notification containing at least the following information (please confirm these requirements with your legal counsel or see Section 512(g)(3) of the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 512(g)(3), for more information):

- a physical or electronic signature (an electronic signature may be signified by writing your first and last name or initials between two forward slashes, e.g., \"/FIRST LAST/\"); - identification of the material that has been removed or to which access has been disabled and the location at which the material appeared before it was removed or access to it was disabled; - a statement made under penalty of perjury that you have a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled; and - your name, address, telephone number, and a statement that you consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for the judicial district in which your address is located, or if your address is outside of the United States, for any judicial district in which the service provider (Vimeo, LLC) may be found, and that you will accept service of process from the person who provided the original takedown notification or an agent of such person.

You acknowledge that if you fail to comply with all of the aforementioned notice requirements, your counter-notification may not be valid and that VIMEO may ignore such incomplete or inaccurate notices without liability of any kind.

Upon receipt of a properly completed counter-notification, VIMEO will forward a copy to the party who submitted the original claim of copyright infringement and/or such party's legal counsel. Please note that when we send the counter-notification, it will include your personal information. By submitting a counter-notification, you consent to such disclosure. Within ten days, VIMEO may receive notice that the original claimant has filed a court action regarding this matter. If such notice is received, VIMEO will be unable to restore your material. If no notice is received, VIMEO will endeavor to restore your material between 10 and 14 days following receipt of your counter-notification.

Under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 512(f), any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity is infringing or was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.



Vimeo, LLC.

Wow. I mean, wow. That Warner Music Group/Time Warner would actually care about some random slide show of 40-somethings getting drunk at a suburban New Jersey synagogue set to 15 and 20-year-old low-quality monaural rendered audio that they happen to have rights to is just extremely sad. Not only is it petty and Draconian to force Vimeo to remove someone's unique works which include Fair Use content, but it's STUPID. I mean, given how crappy the economy is, I can't imagine that anyone who receives such a notice would be compelled to buy any more products from Warner Music Group/Time Warner. In fact, If I was going to be petty and respond in kind, I would do my best to avoid paying to see their movies in theaters and buying any of their music. I'm definitely going to be thinking twice in the future, that much is for certain.

Warner apparently figured out that we were violating their copyrights because we explicitly listed the songs on the video's description page. In retrospect, this was probably dumb for us to have done, because I am sure this was discovered by their legal department using some sort of automated search engine or spider/web crawler. I'm not sure which of the songs are owned by Warner but I assume they cross-checked this against some kind of database of titles or artists.

Surely, Time Warner and other content owners can come to some sort of reasonable agreement with YouTube and Vimeo and other video-sharing sites. One such compromise might be to allow the posters to use the content under Fair Use (significantly reduced quality from source material, etc.)  under the conditions that banner advertisements or context sensitive links to purchase the original material accompany the post  -- say to a content reseller partner of their choice, such as Amazon.com or iTunes. Not only are you engendering good will to the consumers of your content, but you're also increasing your advertising space. And given how crappy the economy is right now, advertising and good will to your customers means everything.

What say you Warner? Can my wife's suburban 40-something friends have their reunion memories back? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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Topic: Hardware


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • I'm not a bit surpised

    When it comes to their precious copyrights, these companies shoot first, and don't ask questions later.
    I learned a long time ago not to post stuff that might violate copyright anywhere. But distribute it 'under the radar'. If I was you, I'd send this via e-mails, FTP, and on CD though US Postal, etc to friends and family. I'm sure WB is going to start screening US Postal, and the other things if this starts happening.
    There isn't anything called 'fair use' It's more like "if we got more lawyers and money than you, then what we say, goes."

    Wonderful plutocracy we live in, isn't it? All hail the mighty corporations! Now bow down before your corporate lords!

    - Kc
    • Consumer Bill of Rights

      They get away with the strong-arm tactics because the studios own the majority of our lawmakers. Fair Use has been watered down to the point of non-existence. We need a consumer bill of rights, but that will never happen with the current crop of studio butt-kissers we have in Washington at the moment. Our only hope is to keep voting them out of office. Let's get some younger, tech-savvy lawmakers inserted who are fully aware of how badly our rights are being trampled by evil, greedy companies like the RIAA and MPAA member companies.
      • Copyright

        the music industry is also being sued by recording artists because they received money for certain songs and are not paying the srtists share so those artists are sueing the RIAA
        • Plopyright For Plumbers !

          Every toilet is a unique aesthetic installation and The Plumbers Guild insists that their members are afforded the same rights as other "artists" and "technicians" in that our work is properly rewarded and protected. It's work so why should we be any different to these other trades ? It is unjust that other professions are granted protection of their work gravy train when we are not afforded such an easy life and a big fat guaranteed pension.

          Therefore we will be lobbying Senetor John McCain for the introduction of an EULA for every new installation which must be read in full before your product activation code can be issued, which should reach you within 10 working days. Note this is for personal use only and the rights will not be transferable. Whistling or singing within hearing distance of others while using a plumbing installation will be prohibited unless you possess a performing rights licence which will be available as a separate purchase from your plumber.

          Fair plopyright for plumbers now !
          Alan Smithie
    • The state loves it

      when you think a corporation is your greatest threat to freedom.
      • It doesn't matter because they're one and the same, really...

      • And who creates corporations?

        Oh, yeah... the state does. I'm sure you also find it reassuring that the typical publicly traded corporation is, by necessity, entirely focused on profit. Doesn't give me a whole lot of confidence in the benevolence of corporate executives, or cause me to regard them as the champions of freedom for anyone but themselves.

        Personally, I'd rather see an economy where only the largest businesses were corporations and nearly all working adults could expect to be self-employed before they retire, but that's just me. Would certainly cause the electorate to be more sympathetic to be plight of business owners.

        John L. Ries
      • Of course they are!

        At least in a republic, bad government officials are responsible to the people and can be voted out of office. Bad executives are responsible to nobody until after they've caused enough damage for the government to finally take notice.
  • RE: Warner Brothers: All your memories belong 2 us

    This is the sort of thing that helped me develop a total lack of respect for copyright laws in the first place...

    Copyrights should be limited to 2 years. You wanna make more money? Get off your a$$ and make something NEW

    Are any of those songs less than 15-20 + years old?
    • Why two years?

      I believe that artists should retain the right to profit from their work at least until the end of their lives. I also support artists' ability to will the copyrights to their work to descendants ... how is that different than passing along any other item of value?

      For that matter, even after an artist or his/her estate sells the rights to a work, why should those rights expire? That's like saying that whenever you buy a book, you have two years to read it ... after which you're required to turn it over to the local public library. (I shudder to think of how many of you are nodding your heads and saying, "That's a good idea...")

      That said, I still support traditional Fair Use laws. Ridiculous measures -- like yanking reunion/dance recital videos with marginal sound quality, and issuing dire legal warnings over them etc. -- only make Big Media look like the bullies they are. (I know, I know ... they'd argue "where do you draw the line?" I'd respond, "a little further toward common sense.")

      If Warner, etc., weren't so petty about uses which were ONCE considered [u]Fair[/u] Use, then I don't think you'd see such pressure to overturn copyright law.
      • 2 years?

        That's like saying that whenever you buy a book, you have two years to read it ... after which you're required to turn it over to the local public library. (I shudder to think of how many of you are nodding your heads and saying, "That's a good idea...")

        In response to this comment, all I have to say is I bought and read the book in les than a week, and passed it on to my friend, who in turn read it and passed it on to his friend. Does that mean that we owe the author, publisher and printer (not to mention shippers and wholesalers and retailers) more money? I think not! Copyright laws are there to protect others from PROFITTING on others original works. The only profit I get from passing on my book is 'goodwill' from my friends and the author profits because his work is exposed to more readers, who may or may not, be interesed in seeing more of his work.
        • agreed.

        • Obviously not a 'creator' of content

          Tell you what, you sit down and write a 'publishable' book, and traverse the business of seeing it hit the shelves, then you can ramble on about how you're not costing the author profits. It may be Fair Use (and it is) to give the book to your friend(s), but it does still take money out of the author's pocket.

          The average advance given to an author is in the $5000 range, royalties are less than $1 per sale, and most published authors have 'day' jobs so they can pay their bills. Unlike musicians who make the bulk of their cash from touring or licensing their songs to commercials, authors (esp fiction authors) do not have those same optional revenue streams.
          • well then

            you shouldn't have become a writer. you were aware of the reality of the industry before you decided you were passionate enough about it to take the plunge, correct?

            I say this as a musician.

            and musician's have day jobs too. there's a lot of competition amongst musicians...

            I also agree that if people want to continue making money, they need to create something new. If I had a 15 year old hit song, I'd like to continue making a small bit of change on the side for that song, but I wouldn't go out there fuming and fussing and litigating, acting like it's value was higher than it actually was.

            then again, I play music because I enjoy it...
          • The problem lies with the publishers

            Copyright law was originally created to stop publishers from abusing modern technology to the detriment of ordinary people, specifically authors.

            They've been fighting back ever since, and now, with the DMCA, which was created specifically to [i]allow[/i] publishers to abuse modern technology to the detriment of the general public, they've managed to turn the whole thing on its head. The situation you described in such dry, factual terms is an outrage, and something needs to be done to reverse it.
          • Fair Use and $

            You state "but it does still take money out of the author's pocket."
            How about "may take money out of the author's pocket"?
            I'm retired. Can't afford to buy books anymore. Solution? Library and hand me downs from friends. Loss to author in dollars? $0.00.
          • But <em>this</em> guy <em>is</em> a "creator of content"...


            as are these guys (all quite successful, you'll note)

            and here's a very successful singer/song-writer's take on it, looking at both the music and the book business

            They all seem to disagree with you, are all successful authors, and they all have practical experience with making their work available free on-line, but put their money where their mouth is.

            Theory, meet the facts.
          • actually musicians..

            don't always have the options you have mentioned above... Those working within a major commercial context may.. but it is also demographic.. E.g. musicians in Australia and other smaller populated countries can't make money from touring/gigging.. so it is sales and sales alone.. although I do agree with the author.. typical fair use situations do not hurt the artist..
          • You "Own" the book.

            You purchase a book. Fair use extends to only how you use that book publicly such as quoting passages. You may sell said book for any price you can get. The same is true for CDs and DVDs be they music or movies although the RIAA and MPAA have fought mightily against it. There are after all both used book and music stores
          • Taking money? Seriously?!

            I have been writing (and publishing) relatively successful books for a
            number of years now and have, also, had my more than fair share of
            books that were not quite as successful (like many writers/artists). I
            have been an outspoken advocate of FIXING the royalty system as it
            works now, attempting to increase the amount of money, ultimately,
            paid to the author.

            I say this all because I vehemently disagree that Fair Use and/or giving
            my work(s) to others (the 'passing-of-the-book', gifts, etc) takes
            money out of my pocket. That money wasn't there to begin with and
            THAT'S the part we need to fix. The publishing industry, just like any
            other creative content industry, has for far too long relied heavily on
            an outmoded business model and then, whilst SUCKING THE LIFE out
            of the actual creator, litigate and scream about all of the money *they*
            are "losing."

            I *do* agree, however, that authors do not have the variant of money
            earning options that are available to musicians, performance artists
            and even fixed-format artists (sculptors, painters, etc). A book
            signing does next to nothing for one's sales, but like a musician (and
            if you can afford it), traveling will only help your exposure and the
            potentiality for sales.