If that boulder fell away from the cave door and you’re finally realizing that, as Bob Dylan propounded — that the “Times, they are a-changin” — the New Yorker has recently offered its stately, looong look at just how true this is in the music industry, especially with the innovations of, yes, YouTube, and how key a channel of change it has become. The piece dissects contemporary industry trends in a profile of Scooter Braun, belieber and manager of boy singer Justin Bieber. Braun found his now mega-star via Google’s online video system and leveraged the lad’s giant audience there to negotiate a valuable 360 record deal for his client. Braun says that, although sales of old-school products like records (what?), CDs and other physical items have declined, the music business has grown via different streams of revenue from licensing, merchandising and digital sales. Bieber is the global exemplar and Braun’s management plans call for further YouTube empire-building (see here).
But even as Google seeks to lure creatives to its platform, with worldwide audiences in the hundreds of millions and even a monetization feature, YouTube continues to wrestle with legal challenges inherent in allowing audiences free, easy uploading of content — owned in various ways by talent unaware of its public, give-away posting. Sound promising for continuing or even expanded entertainment lawyer employment?
YouTube has sought to quell some of the unrest with a deal it made a bit ago. But its ContentID system, an automated copyright infringement protection program that scans posted content and checks it against a database, is imperfect: It has prompted allegations of wrongful take-downs of noninfringing works, which have been yanked in ways not pursuant to DMCA protocol.
As shown by recent, albeit temporary takedowns of NASA-uploaded public domain footage from the Curiosity rover’s Mars landing, YouTube’s ContentID match system can’t seem to distinguish if content is subject to fair use, in the public domain or derivative of works in the public domain. (Need more info on fair use and online video? Try here.) Further, major labels have claimed copyright protection over public domain songs, even when the musician has produced evidence that the content is in public domain. YouTube has even taken down public domain works without giving channel owners the opportunity to issue a counter-notice because the system is unaffiliated with the DMCA. No DMCA notice was ever furnished by the “owner” of the content allegedly subject to copyright. Click here to learn more.