Aussie studio tries to silence YouTube lecture

An Aussie music label appears to have bitten off more than it can chew after it tried to censor a copyright lawyer’s YouTube Lecture.

For some reason, Liberation Music thought it would be a wizard wheeze to force a Harvard law professor, Lawrence Lessig, to take down his South Korean lecture which contained snippets of a song.

It is clear that the studio did not think very hard before it issued the take-down notice, in fact it had software patrolling YouTube looking for offences and its stupidity was apparently automatic.

According to OPD, the studio’s software, ContentID, automatically issues take down notices whenever computers detect its songs, without taking fair use allowances into consideration.

Unfortunately for Liberation Music, Lessig wants to make an example of it to stop this sort of thing happening again.

Liberation is yet to file a defence to Lessig’s complaint, which has been filed in the US District Court in Masschusetts.

Lessig told the court that Liberation Music “enforces its purported rights robotically” and made no effort to examine whether his alleged breach fell within the “fair use” limits of copyright law.

The 49-minute lecture on content collaboration, Lessig demonstrates “call and response” communication through five examples of home-made videos of people dancing along to the hit song Lisztomania by French band Phoenix. Each clip lasts between 10 and 47 seconds and Professor Lessig spoke throughout the songs.

When Lessig questioned the YouTube takedown order he received another automatic response from Liberation Music  threatening legal action against him.  It warned him that he could be facing a $150,000 fine if he didn’t do what he was told.

Liberation Music has implemented and enforced a policy of issuing take-down notices automatically whenever its content is used on YouTube, Lessig said.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation backs Lessig.  It wants a federal judge to rule that the video is lawful fair use, to stop Liberation Music from making such legal threats, and to award damages.

This will mean an end to the use of automated detection processes stifling legitimate fair uses of copyrighted material, particularly in the United States.