Yes and No! In the early days, YouTube’s Content ID system was a real pain for royalty free music libraries and stock music libraries like ours. However, over the years it has become quite a good thing. Although, it still has its issues.
Back in its early days if your music triggered a Content ID claim, you would often find yourself scratching your head wondering a) how it got in there, and b) how to remove it.
There are still some companies that are hard to work with regarding Content ID claims, but on the whole, it is relatively straightforward these days.
As a music owner, you need to register with a decent ad revenue collecting service. For us, we have found AdRev very easy to use. This is not sponsored or a sales pitch for them, but as it is the best one we have used so far, it is getting a mention. We have our own music with them and basically, we can clear channels or videos with them relatively quickly, usually within 24-48 hours. This is very important for library owners and without naming names, there are some ad collectors that don’t understand this. Unfortunately, we still have some third-party content in our library that falls into this bracket.
Content ID is by no means a perfect system, but with a decent company administering the content, it certainly helps us protect our music from unlicensed use. As a content owner, you must be careful about who you give your permissions to. Do your research.
Not So Good…
Unfortunately, there is still a problem with people putting music into the system that they either don’t fully own or they have mistakenly entered into an agreement. This can be done fraudulently or in error.
We have music suppliers who have signed agreements for their music, in order to make some money from it, but have also inadvertently given rights for digital fingerprinting / content ID to be used on their music and controlled by the third party.
This can be problematic because we then end up with Content ID claims that we can’t easily clear. Ideally, we like to get clients cleared via AdRev as quickly as possible, but these additional claims can sometimes take a while to track down and remove.
Cover Versions and Public Domain Music
More recently, we have had a problem with some public domain music. For example, many nursery rhymes are long out of copyright and in the public domain. Therefore, if you create your own arrangement and recording you own the copyright in those aspects and can sell licenses for people to use your version. As a royalty free music library, we sell licenses for use in media, which means videos, TV, Radio etc. We don’t sell it so people can create albums to sell to the public.
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, some people do make albums that include this music and then register the album in Content ID. We end up in a situation where we have a track of music that has been licensed and used in a video coming up with more than one Content ID claim. We clear our claim quickly, but then have to go hunting for the origin of the additional claim in order to get it removed.
We have recently had nursery rhymes claimed by Performance Royalty Organisations (PROs), such as ASCAP, SOCAN etc. Basically, they are claiming that it is a cover version and taking a share of the ad revenue. This would be fine if it was a cover, but frustrating when it isn’t and can’t possibly be. If you create your own version of a public domain track (where the music itself is out of copyright), your arrangement and recording copyrights are owned by you. For them to claim it is a cover they must own the copyright in the music. These PROs simply can’t have any copyright in a track that is out of copyright unless it is their arrangement and recording.
While there are still a few issues, things are much better than they were when I originally wrote about this in 2013 and clearly our policy has changed since then.
What is your experience? Either as a music user or as a music producer? Feel free to add to the discussion by leaving a comment.