What Zoe Keating's Battle With YouTube Really Means For Indie Artist

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by aram, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. aram

    aram Member

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    Here's an email that the Content Creators Coalition sent out last week that very clearly explains what Google is doing to independent artists on Youtube.

    Proud to be a member of this group as well.

    You can join at www.c3action.org
    =========================================
    We love Zoe Keating. She’s not just an amazing artist. Keating is an unofficial ambassador of good will between two cultures desperately in need of common ground – arts and technology. By publishing her royalties and earnings from digital music services, she has offered transparency that helps artists take charge of their careers and tech companies to understand how their platforms can better serve artists. Recently, when she wrote about her disagreement with YouTube Music Key, she also revealed the extent of Google’s continued exploitation of artists.

    It’s easy for companies like Google to convince the public that it has the best interest of artists in mind. Keating herself is an example of how digital platforms can help independent artists reach an audience – she chose to sell her work on online services like Bandcamp and iTunes instead of signing with a label. She has more than a million Twitter followers, and her own background includes working for a software startup in the dot-com boom. While artists who question the compensation rates and terms offered by streaming services are often painted as Luddites, Keating is anything but. That’s why her thoughts on YouTube are so revealing.

    The real debate between artists and technology companies isn’t about streaming. It is about an artist’s right to control their work. Artists should be able to negotiate fair compensation and reasonable terms for their content, without having to worry that a service will attempt to distribute it anyway. And, if an artist so chooses, they should be able to walk away—just as Taylor Swift did by removing her catalog from Spotify. It’s no surprise that YouTube Music Key (essentially a cosmetically enhanced YouTube reinvented as a free and paid subscription service like Spotify) doesn’t provide fair compensation or reasonable terms. But here, there is no opting out.

    There’s an elephant in Google’s room – and it’s hiding behind the “safe harbor” liability limitations for service providers in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Safe harbor was created so companies like YouTube weren’t liable for infringing content posted on its site that might be hard to identify. However, YouTube already has a system in place for identifying copyrighted material—Content ID. Through Keating’s old contract, she has access to Content ID, which allows her to either block, monetize or track the thousands of videos that fans and users post with her music. She’s been told that if she does not sign her new contract, “My YouTube channel will be blocked and I will no longer be able to monetize (how I hate that word) 3rd party videos through Content ID.”

    If artists who don’t strike a deal with YouTube Music Key are denied access to Content ID to identify their copyrighted material on YouTube, they must manually find the material and then file DMCA takedown notices for each infringing use. Without the aid of YouTube’s built in robot algorithm this process is nearly impossible. If Keating signs the contract she can keep using Content ID, at the cost of accepting draconian terms, including the mandatory inclusion of her entire catalog on both the free and paid tiers of the service, which means she would no longer be able to “window” her releases on different platforms (for example releasing a new album on Bandcamp first and not making it available on YouTube Music Key until three months later). If she doesn’t sign, YouTube continues to benefit financially from her work posted without her consent, and removing it may become an insurmountable task.

    As this story has been developing, so have YouTube’s responses to Keating. Even if YouTube capitulates to public image concerns and offers Keating a new contract addressing these issues – which as of today has not happened – it remains to be seen whether that would affect the thousands of other independent artists and creators who have their work posted on YouTube, with or without their consent. Whatever happens, we may never know the truth because of non-disclosure agreements YouTube struck with Merlin on the behalf of numerous indie labels.

    Google has the most powerful search engine in the world, with an incredibly sophisticated process to find and categorize information, yet it is hiding behind safe harbor provisions to withhold its own technology from content creators who refuse to be exploited by YouTube. Keating’s battle with YouTube has made this clear: Google is unwilling to give up the money it makes off of unauthorized use of artists’ work unless it gets total control of their work. That’s what’s really going on.

    Sarah Manning, Recording Artist and CCC-NYC Chapter Activist
    Jeffrey Boxer, Content Creators Coalition's Executive Director

    For more information, please contact:
    jrboxer@c3action.org
    sm@c3action.org
    www.c3action.org
     
  2. DryBones

    DryBones Member

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    Wow, had no idea. Scary. Like its not a struggle already to be a creative, hardworking musician as it is, you have to battle this **** as well.
     
  3. mediocreplayer

    mediocreplayer Member

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    This is kind of brilliant on Google's part, letting youtube users do the dirty work for them and then telling artists that the only way to stop it would be for the artists to accept certain terms.

    Do no evil, indeed.
     
  4. Belmont

    Belmont Member

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    hates the word "monetize", yet her complaints are based soley on compensation="money".
    if she doesn't like their rules or payouts, why join up and not just opt out?
    does she have a gun in her mouth?
     
  5. mediocreplayer

    mediocreplayer Member

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    The reason is stated in the first post. If she does not join, she forfeits her right to control any videos that violate her copyrights.
     
  6. Belmont

    Belmont Member

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    I guess she should have been careful signing that first contract.
     
  7. aram

    aram Member

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    I don't think you understand what's happening here. It has nothing to do with her first contract. She was OKAY with her first contract. She's NOT okay with this new contract that their presenting.

    So if she chooses to not sign this new contract, Google will still sell ads for all the videos with her music in them, but won't allow her to receive any of the money.

    Don't you see how this is wrong?

    She can still send in individual notices for every one of the thousands of videos that have her music in them, but it's essentially a full time job sending in DMCA takedown notices at that point.

    And Google will still be selling ads and making money off of HER music, regardless of whether or not she sanctions it or not.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  8. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Silver Supporting Member

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    Yes, this is the crux of the thing. I can't see how anyone can be ok with this.
     
  9. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    It's especially hard for mid sized artists like Zoe operating outside of the mainstream who will never get that rich anyway no matter what deals are going on.
     
  10. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Member

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    Google is a special kind of souless evil, kind of like Todd on Breaking Bad.
     
  11. aram

    aram Member

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    Of course being an artist is difficult, but Zoe is making a decent middle class income on her music. She's by no means rich but made $75K in 2013.

    And regardless of whether or not she's mainstream or not, it doesn't make it any more right that a giant corporation can continue to make money off of her work without her permission.
     
  12. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    That's right, my point was that artists like Zoe will be affected by Googles plans probably more so than others.
     
  13. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

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    I'll probably be soundly yelled down for this, but I think these services that allow users to upload content are in a sort of tricky spot. When you upload a video to Youtube or a photo to Flickr or whatever, you're always asked to affirm that the content you're uploading isn't copyrighted or that you own the copyright. Of course, there's plenty of people that don't care about that at all. But now we're saying that we want the companies that own the sites to take on the role of policing all user content completely. They do have that power already, really, it's just that they are so overwhelmed by content, they can't effectively police it all. Some of it can be automated. But much of it depends on human eyes seeing what's uploaded and making a judgment call still. When you have over 300 hours of video uploaded to YT every minute, though, you can see how a lot falls through the cracks.

    It does sort of seem like Google is saying to artists, "you know all of your stuff is going to end up here eventually - you might as well sign up so you can at least get something for it." Is it them trying to offload responsibility - it sure is. But I can kind of see their point. I can also understand artist's feeling like they're between a rock and a hard place, too. I don't think there's really any simple or easy solutions to this kind of stuff anymore.
     
  14. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    And yet somehow, porn (for example) is really scarce on YouTube despite the huge supply and demand.
     
  15. clarkram

    clarkram Member

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  16. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

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    I imagine a big reason for that simply has to do with the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other sites where one can go to find it and upload it. I also imagine that there are still millions of users who will flag porn if they see it, not so much another copy of "Texas Flood". It's not like people aren't uploading gazillions of hours of porn, too. That industry has been pretty decimated as well.
     
  17. Belmont

    Belmont Member

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    you're right, I don't fully understand the details.
    but it seems like it does have everything to do with her first contract, had she not signed it (are they even signed?), she wouldn't be in this predicament.
    of course I'm not against artists being fairly compensated but nobody forced her to play their game.
     
  18. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    There are legal and financial penalties for hosting porn that Google strenuously wishes to avoid. Unlicensed music on the other hand is their bread and butter. Since Google now ties your YouTube account to all your other Google services, they could nuke anyone's gmail account who posts unlicensed music, which would take out all the kids "sharing", but again, they make a lot of money off that, so they don't.

    Also, note how difficult it is to find SNL music on YouTube. That stuff gets taken down whip fast. Or child porn. In theory, you should be able to hide that stuff on YouTube through obscure key wording, but it's not there because cruise missiles of net trouble will come down on you if they find it.
     
  19. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

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    Well, yeah, but it's not like Google takes down those SNL clips out of the goodness of its heart. It's because NBC has taken aggressive action to protect their copyright, which kind of what I'm getting. It up to the right's holder to do what they can to protect their material. No one is simply going to go to bat for them. Of course, on the other hand, some artists don't have the time or resources to go after every act of infringement.

    I guess what I'm getting at is that we as a society have simply said that we value being able to freely upload whatever we want more than we value the rights of artists to protect their material. Unless that changes, it's going to be an uphill battle.
     
  20. A-Bone

    A-Bone Montonero, MOY, Multitudes Gold Supporting Member

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    Naturally, NBC has the resources to aggressively protect its copyrights and trademarks and all. I would change "some artists[...]" to "most artists don't have time or resources to go after every act of infringement." I still think Viacom had the right idea about how YouTube makes money. Without the infringing materials, YT would be comparatively bereft, and the fact that YT can legally generate ad revenue from infringing material with no responsibility on the part of YT to remove the material or remit to the rights holders should be a bit disturbing.

    It isn't about society and what it values. The DMCA was the result of profoundly powerful lobbying on the part of Silicon Valley corporate interests who rightly recognized that it would be much better for them to not be responsible for policing infringing material on their web based services. What the DMCA demonstrates is that Tech companies are much more powerful even than entertainment conglomerates, and what conversations about this often demonstrate is that the tech companies have done a much better job of defining the terms of the issue by using language like "information", "content" and "content creators" as a way to minimize what is really at stake.
     

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