When we first reported last week on the big four major labels' plan to combine their powers and create a new music video web-service and Warner Music Group's panty-twisting over its artist's videos on YouTube, we had no idea that so much was about to happen so fast. First, the CEO of WMG actually addressed the YouTube tantrum in an interview with Billboard, and now, the unthinkable -- YouTube is muting videos with songs that don't meet copyright standards.
Basically, if you are one of the millions of YouTube members who creates and uploads original videos every day, you'd better make sure any and all audio you use in the clips are licensed for public use. What's that? You're not up to speed on entertainment law? That would, of course, make you like just about everyone else on YouTube, and it means your videos will be muted. (Like this one, this one and this one.)
Always aiming to please, YouTube offers users whose videos have been muted the option to synch up a new song using its "AudioSwap" feature. The feature lets users browse through YouTube's library of fully licensed, legal tracks. It's hard to think of a situation in which this would ever work -- users often include dialogue and songs in their original videos, which would make replacing the entire audio track pointless, or create an original montage video to go along with a particular song, which would be made completely irrelevant by choosing a different track.
Apparently disabling any type of enjoyment of music videos wasn't enough. Instead, it was necessary to remove almost any creative aspect of the YouTube platform. And, as Mashable reminded us, this also means no more RickRolling.
YouTube (Google) claims that previously, users who violated copyright simply had their videos removed. But since this punishment is also coming without warning to many users, and essentially takes the fun out of every video it affects, we're not so sure it's a better option. Maybe they'll do a better job of explaining their rationale, in this official statement from the YouTube blog:
Previously, when a music label or other rights owner issued a copyright claim to block audio, the video was automatically taken down. Uploaders had two choices: dispute the claim (in the case of fair use, for example) or use our AudioSwap tool to replace the track with one from our library of pre-cleared music. Now we've added an additional choice. Instead of automatically removing the video from YouTube, we give users the option to modify the video by removing the music subject to the copyright claim and post the new version, and many of them are taking that option.
Our content management tools have revolutionized the ways in which users and content owners are distributing, marketing, and making money from video online. As we continue to build out this system, we are working to find the right balance between encouraging creativity and free expression and respecting the rights of copyright holders and the law.