YouTube Flags Cat Purring as Copyright Infringing Music

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YouTube's automated takedown tool is known for its flaws, but this week it crossed a line by attacking a purring cat. According to YouTube's Content-ID system both EMI Publishing and PRS own the rights to a 12 second purring loop. The cat in question, Phantom, has filed a dispute and hopes to reclaim his rights.

youtubesadsmallWeek in and week out automated bots detect and report millions of alleged copyright infringements, which are then processed by the receiving site without a human ever looking at them.

Unfortunately this process is far from flawless, resulting in many false and inaccurate DMCA claims.

For regular Internet users YouTube’s takedown process is particularly problematic. We’ve highlighted this issue before, but an example that reached us this week attacks one of the Internet’s darlings, a cat.

Last March, YouTube user Digihaven uploaded one hour of video loops featuring his cat Phantom, purring, as cats do. The video didn’t go viral but appealed to a niche public, and more recently also two major music publishers.

Nearly a year after the video was posted Digihaven was informed by YouTube that Phantom is “pirate” purring. Apparently, part of the 12 second loop belongs to EMI Music Publishing and PRS.

In the copyright notice YouTube states that the cat purring is flagged by the Content-ID system as an infringing copy of the musical composition “Focus.”

Pirate purring

The video was not removed by the false claim, but according to Digihaven monetization was disabled. Luckily he’s not going bankrupt due to the loss of income, but it’s baffling how easy it is to hijack legitimate videos.

“I’m sure EMI/PRS made Phantom a sad kitty. It seems like companies such as EMI are pirating ads on people’s legit videos, so I’m wondering if they apologize to, or reimburse people for those false claims,” he tells TF.

Hoping to clear his cat’s name Digihaven decided to file a dispute. This was partially successful, as EMI lifted its claim shortly before publication of this article.

Phantom, meanwhile, is considering a career in the music business and is looking for compensation.

“Phantom is currently independent, but looking to sign on with an indie label. Phantom’s lawyer filed a complaint, looking for 10 lbs of catnip in damages,” Digihaven says.


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