Update: Please see “Owning the Clouds – Update.”
So, is the movie at right loading yet? Every moment that it does not load when the play button is clicked, and every moment that this returns an “unavailable” error page is another moment of Google Video denying me ownership of my own work.
Some of you will remember from this entry that I once made a series of timelapse videos of clouds above my apartment and let it out into the wild — into the public domain for all intents and purposes — where it later gained notoriety as the satirically ominous “Anonymous Message to Scientology,” which in turn became the root of other parodies along the same line — that of a robotic voice delivering intimidating messages through my cloud videos.
This is to notify you that your video “Timelapse Clouds Compilation” from your Google Video account has been disabled because it has been identified by our Content Identification tools as potentially lacking the necessary copyright authorization for use on the Google Video site. Content Identification is a program that analyzes similarities in audio or video between user videos and a library of reference content provided to us by copyright owners. When a video matches a reference file, that video is automatically disabled.
If you believe that this identification is a mistake, please click on the following link to learn how you can dispute this [link]
Please note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not have all rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others.
More information about Content Identification can be found at this link [link]
The Google Video Team
On seeing this my first thought was that some big media outfit had probably used the video in a story about Anonymous, and Content Identification had made a false match between the clip and my work. I sent in a request as to which entity had made the copyright claim, and got back this response from video-copyright:
The copyright owner, twentythreesix, has allowed your video to remain live on the site.
The Google Team
Sure enough, Arianna Huffington’s comedy news site 236.com had posted a derivative parody to YouTube: “A Message to Rudy Giuliani,” which amusingly deviates somewhat from the standard “Message from Anonymous” pattern by pausing part way through while Anonymous fends off his mom. There’s the standard synthesized speech, the standard message from Anonymous, and of course, my cloud timelapse video — which now, I gather from the phrasing of the Googly copyright notice email, 236.com is now claiming to have copyright on.
This drove me into a violent fit of abject rage, and I sent out a pissy response, cc:’d to 236.com’s legal address and, as a cry of anguish directed to the very top, to Arianna Huffington herself:
Why, thank you! Please do convey to twentythreesix (23/6) that I am absolutely DRIPPING WITH GRATITUDE for so GRACIOUSLY permitting me to KEEP MY OWN VIDEO UP. Bad enough that their “Anonymous Message to Giuliani” was derived from the “Anonymous Message to Scientology” which used my original footage, now twentythreesix is still claiming COPYRIGHT ON THE ORIGINAL FOOTAGE, and only letting me keep my own material up out of the GOODNESS OF THEIR HEARTS.
Of course, this might have been completely pointless. If I were to try and think the best of all involved, the phrasing on the Content Identification notice emails would imply that the people at 236.com have no idea this is even happening, and that the infringement notice and reply was simply auto-generated when the copyright bots saw a match between 236’s content and my own. This raises the issue, however, that Google Video’s content-flagging system is not only flawed (in that it failed to identify my video as the original, despite its having been published at a much earlier date than any of the “Message from Anonymous” videos that were ever uploaded), but also unfairly skewed towards big content producers, who get special copyright enforcement tools denied to casual amateur producers (like myself), who in turn lack the time and resources to effectively enforce their own copyright, and dispute claims such as this one.
I suppose it’s what I get for being nice and uploading those videos for anyone to use without expecting credit or payment in return — some big outfit was bound to take it, produce a thirdhand derivative work, and aggressively claim ownership at my expense. At this point, sending a takedown notice means that in the spirit of consistency I would need to send takedowns to all the other producers of “Message from Anonymous” parodies, and that would not only be too much trouble, but a major jerk move on my part. I’ll take the high road and let 236.com have their ball, but I’m posting this just so you know who really took those cloud videos. That should be enough to satisfy my ego.
(While I’m at it I should probably start moving stuff off of Google Video. Right after I posted this entry the cloud timelapse video disappeared. Now I’m speechless. So much for not being evil.)
Note: Please see “Owning the Clouds – Update.”