YouTube is a great platform for creators, allowing them to broadcast their work to hundreds of millions of people around the world, for free.
At TF we focus on writing news so we don’t use YouTube much for the site. A few years ago, however, we did host TorrentFreak TV and last week we decided to put the video archive on YouTube.
The shows were released seven to eight years ago so the news that’s discussed is all dated. However, having it all in one place on YouTube helps to keep it archived in an orderly fashion.
What we didn’t expect, however, is that hours after the first upload we were already presented with a copyright claim from a third-party.
Interestingly, the copyright claim was not coming from a major rightsholder or an obscure trolling operation. Neither was it some random bird humming that was flagged. The claim in question was made on a track by none other than Dan Bull. Yeah, Bull.
Dan Bull is an English rapper and songwriter who writes tracks about video games and various Internet related topics. We know him very well at TorrentFreak and he was featured and interviewed in several of our articles over the years.
For example, he protested against restrictive copyright legislation that would hunt down file-sharers and trample on free speech and fair use. In fact, the Dan Bull rap that was featured in the TorrentFreak TV video is a protest against the UK’s Digital Economy Bill.
We prominently featured this track in a TorrentFreak news article as well and used it with explicit permission from Dan himself.
So why are we receiving a copyright claim on YouTube now, seven years later? Perhaps Dan’s online accounts were hijacked? His Twitter account obviously wasn’t, as this was the first tweet I saw in his timeline.
To find out what really happened we got in touch with Dan himself, who had a good explanation for the rather ironic situation.
“I am so embarrassed that TorrentFreak’s first copyright claim has been for a piece of content that I created. Ironically, TorrentFreak’s coverage of the music in question 7 years ago is what made it popular in the first place,” he says.
Dan explains that he’s part of a YouTube network which helps to monetize his videos and as part of this strategy they also claim his content on videos of other people who use his work. This includes our video.
So, the bots Dan was referring to in the earlier tweet also work ‘for’ him.
“The claim was made on my behalf by the YouTube network I’m a part of – Brave Bison. It was presumably done automatically by a bot which is unable to deal with the nuances of fair use. This is one of many serious issues with YouTube’s Content ID system,” Dan says.
The sad part is that this is not what Dan wants these bots to do. In fact, he actively encourages people to use his content in their own creations. However, the Brave Bison network doesn’t give him the option to do so without specifically whitelisting every video by hand.
“But even putting fair use aside, I have told the network before that I don’t mind people using clips of my music in their own videos. However, apparently the only way I can put that into practice is to personally submit them a whitelist of individual videos – this is of course not realistic, especially as new videos are being made all the time.
“For the record, I would like to say that if you want to use something I’ve made as part of your own project, please go ahead, I love seeing where people take things I’ve made,” Dan adds.
We applaud Dan for being so open about the situation and obviously don’t blame him for what happened.
However, we hope that Brave Bison and other YouTube networks seriously reconsider their restrictive policies. If a creator is more than happy to allow others to use his or her work, this should be allowed, instead of squeezing every cent from third-party videos.
Luckily, the TorrentFreak TV video that featured the Dan Bull track is still up. The only difference is that Brave Bison is now showing their ads on it, while it was free of advertising before.
We filed a counterclaim several days ago to get this lifted, clarifying that we have explicit permission from the owner to use the video. Fingers crossed that the entire situation will be resolved in a few weeks, more or less.