Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The sound of silence

Amidst the tumult of the past week, I got an email from a friendly YouTube user informing me of this:

I posted this video almost a year ago, and it contains all PD music from old serials... except for one burst of The Beach Boys near the end. Naturally, Warner Music Group had a problem with this and slapped the unmovable mute button on my short.

The options given to me by YouTube break down as follows: either contest the copyright (which they all but scream that I have no way in hell of winning), swap out the morsel of copyrighted music or render your video mute permanently.

In terms of replacing it, the music is pretty important to the film and is a surprise when it comes up, so it would be hard to find an appropriate replacement. Is there even such a thing as "Public Domain Surf Music"? I just did a Google search for the quote and nothing comes up.

The other option is to leave it mute. Given that it uses title cards like the old serials (and silent films before them), I'm leaning towards this option. It does have the benefit of leaving that message up for all viewers to see and seethe at. WMG is just making friends left and right, ain't they?

But in the end, I'm less mad at Warner Music Group and more angry at YouTube. Not because they leaned over for the music industry. They've had enough legal problems that I can understand their motivations here (and even sympathize).

No, what makes me angry was that they didn't even inform me of it. I have no idea how long my video has been like this (it could be as long as three months, since that was the time someone last commented on it). I'm guessing they stay mute themselves on these sorts of alterations in the hopes that YouTube users don't even notice and, therefore, less people give them grief for it.

It's pretty cowardly, but I suppose they sooth their consciouses by reminding themselves their services are free. True enough, but their not doing their brand name any favors by this kind of behavior.

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