Maritime band battles to keep music on YouTube
The Maritime band In-Flight Safety is expressing frustration with one of the world's largest music companies, which has been connected to orders that the band's music videos be removed from YouTube.
In-Flight Safety is an independent band based on Prince Edward Island. It owns its own music and has no current connection to Universal Music Group. It had a 1,000 disc distribution deal, but that deal is done and the band never gave up copyright to its tunes.
But the music industry giant has been connected to orders for the takedown of five of the band's songs from YouTube. Most recently, it was the band's song Out of Sight, some versions of which remain blocked.
"I got to YouTube and it said this song has content owned by Universal Music Group and it's been removed from YouTube. And I thought OK that's enough of that," said band member John Mullane.
In each case, the band has had its music reinstated.
"It was a crazy thing to try to do as an independent band, to call a big record company and actually get someone on the phone."
In-Flight Safety's story is far from unique, said Tamir Israel, a lawyer with the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. The band, in fact, has been quite lucky to get its music reposted.
Under U.S. law, a record company can force YouTube and other websites to remove content, without the company having to prove it owns the material. Once it is down, the onus is on the person who wants it restored to prove there is not a problem with it.
Israel is worried Canadians could soon be facing similar legislation as it negotiates membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
"One of the obligations for signatories of this partnership will be to institute this notice takedown system in their own domestic copyright laws," said Israel.
"It puts the onus on the user to try to go through this often convoluted challenging process to try to get the content back up and that leads to further lawsuits."
Because the process can be complex and difficult, often content that is ordered removed is never restored.
"Whether it was a legitimate use of copyright or not the content will often stay down and there won't be a second step. You see that often in the States," said Israel.
U.S. notice-takedown legislation often leads to internet censorship, said Israel.
Mullane said he is not interested in becoming a political crusader against notice takedown laws, but feels his In-Flight Safety has been treated unfairly, and he wishes the band's music would be left alone.
A spokesperson for Universal would only say the company is aware of the situation with In-Flight Safety, and is looking into the problem.
No one from YouTube could be reached for comment.