Monday 13 May 2019

The first cycle campaigning youtube videos are in danger because of The Orchard Music and Youtube's broken copyright infringement detection

Judy and I went touring in the Netherlands in 2002 and brought
back many photos, but the primitive digital camera which I
had then couldn't record video at all. I made some VHS videos.
YouTube was founded in 2005 and grew quite rapidly. At the end of 2006 it was bought out by Google and YouTube has remained under Google's ownership since that time. I started using YouTube quite early on, making what I think were the first videos of cycling infrastructure on YouTube which were created for the purpose of campaigning for better infrastructure elsewhere.

I had taken still photos and VHS video back to the UK several years before, but it was difficult to arrange to show videos to people and people couldn't see that still photos were not just of isolated spots so it was difficult to explain why what was pictured was important to a large audience. I realised that YouTube potentially offered a way of reaching that larger audience.

The four videos below were created in early to mid 2006 and are amongst a few dozen which I uploaded on the day in November 2006 when I created my YouTube account. Because the camera which I had at the time was primitive, the picture quality is poor (320x200 10 fps) and there is no sound. Much of what is shown is dated and doesn't serve as the best example but even these old cycle-paths still look like some kind of science fiction to people in many other countries where there has still not been much progress in cycling infrastructure.

This video shows the quality of a cycle-path which leads between a village and a city. See more blog posts and videos of rural cycling infrastructure.

Meerhoven was then a new housing development on the west of Eindhoven. I followed the cycling infrastructure all the way from the centre of Eindhoven, through Meerhoven, to the airport 8 km away. I made several more videos showing other parts of the guided bus system beacuse I thought was of interest at the time because Cambridge was planning a far less sophisticated guided bus which finally opened in 2011. You can see the other videos a web page about it which I created in 2006.

Cycling infrastructure in and around railway stations has long been excellent in the Netherlands. These are routes used by cyclists in Eindhoven to get to and from the railway station in 2006. Since this time I have written about many newer Dutch railway stations and in on of my recent blog posts you can see how Dutch cities continue to improve the experience for cyclists near railway stations.

When I started visiting the Netherlands, one of the first things that jumped out at me was the freedom of Dutch children. I have now written many pieces about how Dutch children cycle to school.

These old videos don't get many views these days. I'm quite happy about that because you can now find many many better videos of cycling infrastructure on my blog, e.g. at the links above under each of these videos, and on my youtube channel. But these videos are still available to watch. To me they're interesting primarily as historical artifacts. I'm fairly sure I was the first to use youtube for this purpose. Unfortunately, all my early cycling infrastructure videos are now under threat:

The Orchard Music and what appear to be fraudulent claims of copyright infringement
One of the things that changed with YouTube since 2006 is that uploaded videos are now checked for copyright infringement. This is intended to ensure that artists (or their agents) are paid for their work. It also earns money for YouTube / Google. I'm not arguing for or against this in this blog post. What I am concerned about is the overreaching claims of copyright infringement which are being made on behalf of companies which cannot be contacted and which do not reply to emails.

One of the many copyright infringement claim emails from today,
claiming that this silent video includes copyrighted music.
I regularly receive copyright infringement notices for videos which are entirely my own work, including silent videos like those above. Claims are made that the video includes copyrighted music. Obviously these silent videos don't include music, but because a claim is made against them the company involved then is allowed to run advertising on my videos in order to generate income.

In particular, an organisation called The Orchard Music makes many claims. I also received one claim from SourceAudio Holdings today. There have been other companies in the past. The Orchard Music is by far the biggest offender.

Ten incorrect claims today
How many incorrect claims do I receive ? At the time of writing this today (21:00) I have had to react to no less than ten copyright infringement claims by The Orchard Music, all of which were made against silent videos. My email inbox looks like this as a result. Almost nothing to see except notices of copyright infringement ("auteursrechtclaim ingediend") and my objections to those claims ("Je geschil is ingediend"):
My email inbox today. It consists almost entirely of "copyright infringement" claims by The Orchard Music against some of my earliest youtube videos, all of which are silent. By the time I finished writing this blog post I had received three more claims of copyright infringement just today. These claims are all against silent videos. There is no sound at all on these videos and therefore no chance at all of any of them including any content which The Orchard Music could possibly claim as their own. This is becoming ridiculous.
The problem with receiving ten copyright notices a day is that it takes a considerable amount of time to fight each one. There is no automatic way of doing this. I have to click on the link in the email and then go through several pages on clicking boxes and typing in a claim that actually I own these videos before being asked to "sign" with my name and click several more times to confirm that I know that I could be punished for making an incorrect claim. It's not only demeaning but it also takes a lot of time. Not to react would be to allow the use of my work, however old it may be, to earn money for other people. In particular, The Orchard Music. To react costs at least five minutes per complaint, more if I add in the time lost due to being distracted from whatever useful work I was doing. Merely objecting about these incorrect claims took an hour of my time yesterday. I can't continue to put so much time into trying to avoid being ripped off.

This has been going on for over a year and it has cost me hundreds of hours to deal with the  No-one at Youtube or Google or The Orchard Music reacts to my emails or tweets about this problem. I'm getting really very fed up indeed with constantly having to defend my ownership of my own work. Even if these videos are old and not particularly interesting any more, they're still mine and not theirs.

Other problems with YouTube and Google
In 2008 YouTube added an "annotations" feature. This allows text to be added to videos so that title screens and textual explanations were displayed above the video itself. It was also possible to make videos automatically pause using this feature. It worked well and I used it on many of my early videos. Unfortunately, youtube never supported annotations properly on mobile platforms and earlier this year the support also went away suddenly on the web browser as well with the result that many hundreds of hours of work that I had put into using this feature was discarded. Because youtube not only threw away this feature but also threw away the annotations themselves which I had spent many hundreds of hours to create (they provided no way of downloading the information) there is now unfortunately no way to view those early videos with annotations as they were intended to be viewed.

Google has also seemingly become unable to stop spam comments on blogpost. These days the majority of comments received are spam which tries to advertise some worthless product or other. This wastes almost as much of my time as dealing with the copyright claims on youtube.

Overall it does not seem that Google has much respect for the people who use their products. The big companies are the customers now.

Youtube: What do you want me to do ? Should I delete these old videos ? Can I trust you in future ? Should I never upload anything to your service again ? If I take your offer of "replacing" the "copyrighted music" with your cheesy non-copyright music, something which I really do not want to do, would that even stop this problem from occurring again in the future ? I have used copyright free music in the past and received copyright complaints on those videos as well !

Readers: Should I move to Vimeo ? Do readers have experience of Vimeo ? Is it better than Youtube at protecting the rights of the people who make videos ? Does it allow others to claim ownership ?

Update 6th June 2019
After a few days of silence I today received 12 emails after one another from YouTube about the disputed videos:

In all but one case, The Orchard Music decided to give up their claim to own the "music" behind my silent videos. But in once case, a private video of us riding a roller coaster many years ago, they claim they own the music that they claim exists on the silent sound track of this video. This means that The Orchard Music, who have made repeated false claims against my videos, now have my home address and content details because the only way of making an appeal is to give them this information through YouTube.

On the 8th of June the copyright claims started rolling in yet again, with The Orchard Music again trying to claim copyright infringement for the silent Crazy Mouse video. YouTube stinks.


Robert said...

Oh dear. I do have an album called "Silence", but it isn't silent. "Four Minutes, Thirty Three Seconds" by John Cage often is, though. Since the claimant is always The Orchard Music, and they appear to be so active, I wonder if the real issue here is not a broken infringement detector, but a bot randomly targetting channels.

I have some personal videos on Vimeo, and have not had any problems other than that they make you wait quite a long time between upload and the video being available, which can be annoying (especially given that voluntary work often has to be done late at night). Some of these videos are embedded on the Push Bikes website, but to ensure embedded videos remain on the website no matter what people do with their personal videos, more recently I have created an account for Push Bikes on Daily Motion.

I like that Daily Motion is European (which would mean they have to be compliant with GDPR). What I don't like is the way videos are a bit slow to start, and then always seem to start in low resolution. Also, the user interface doesn't seem very intuitive. And as an ex-Brit, you would also have to live with the name having unfortunate connotations in British English.

Videos on both platforms include music, but I've not had any copyright hits. Mostly I stick to copyright-free music, but sometimes I opt for something obscure that may or may not be copyrighted. I always credit the source, and of course neither myself nor Push Bikes benefit financially from uploaded videos.

seiklmeikl said...

Vimeo is just fine, Youtube is probably the better choice to reach out to most people. Still, since your work can be regarded as documentary and not as mass content, I would go for the platform, which is easiest for you to work with. A web link will always do, no matter what platform.

Kevin Love said...

Streetsblog uses Vimeo, so I have often watched their content there. Including you being interviewed in their film on Groningen. As a viewer of videos, I have always had a good experience of Vimeo.