Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Brush with Intellectual Property Law

Last July I posted some short videos that I had taken while delayed at the Phoenix Airport. The videos were of the Southwest Airlines gate agent singing on his ukulele. The videos were fun and short and I thought perfect to demonstrate a quirky event in my life. In other words perfect for a blog. I posted three videos on YouTube and then linked to the only video that had a full length song in it for my blog post. The first one started too late and the last video was interrupted when the aircraft finally arrived and our gate agent had to get back to work.

There is a small but intense army of ukulele players out in the world and a few of them stopped by to watch the videos and enjoy them. I had about 50 hits on the video after a few weeks and was quite happy with myself, as I felt as I had moved into the twenty first century of technology. Just trying to keep up with the kids, you know.

Anywho, I'm minding my own business when I decide to check in with the videos a few weeks later and was floored when over 6,000 hits had occurred for the full length video I had featured in my blog. For a while I couldn't believe it and then I couldn't figure out why it had become so popular. A very helpful feature of YouTube though, will tell you where your videos have been linked. My video had been linked to an apparently very popular site related to customer service called the consumerist.com. I was quite pleased with my new, albeit limited fame as a a film-maker and watched the hits grow to over 10,000.

Then in January of this year I received an email from YouTube. There was a compliant regarding my video, saying I had violated the copyright of the songwriter. The song that was in the video was "Brown-eyed Girl" by the Irish singer songwriter Van Morrison. I'm a big fan and I guess I just assumed that if he wasn't singing it, the song itself wasn't protected. My bad. I suppose the one conciliation I can offer is that he might of gotten a few more sales of the original once people were reminded of it after watching my shaky production. I've attached a printout of the email and it clearly indicates that Van Morrison is one of the complaining parties, along with his record label.

So Van, if you are reading this, I apologize, I never intended to infringe on your rights from the great music that you have written. And now I am off to study up on intellectual property law, this twenty first century technology stuff is going to raise a lot of questions. For example, if I take a picture of my kitchen with the refrigerator in it, is Amana going to send me an email?

1 comment:

Jesse Hoekstra said...

Yea, it's a pretty tough situation, these copyright laws and the internet. I know that right now, I've already spent hours trying to find royalty free\creative commons music to use for the rocky point videos I want to make. But that seems to be the case with most of the videos I've created, it takes about as long to find the music, as it does to edit the video.

And in this case, I can't even embarrass Evan or Jazmin by posting their singing, cause they were singing copyrighted songs.