Category Archives: Online

Why Youtube frequently issues copyright violations on licensed use of music

I predicted this was going to happen the moment Youtube announced it was automatically scanning videos for copyrighted music:

The problem is that Content ID improperly flags licensed music as a copyright infringement – leading to embarrassment for producers and editors that have legitimately licensed their music from a reputable company.

via Larrys Blog – Keep Yourself Copyright Legal | Larrys Blog.

How can they tell the difference between a recording you have paid licensing fees for versus a random copy? They cannot. I have gone out of my way to use licensed music on my own online videos but …

I have a video on Youtube of a U.S. Civil War Battle re-enactment. The battled ended with a performance of Taps, which was written jointly by a private and a General in 1862 during the U.S. Civil War. Instead of using the recording I made at the battle field, which was interrupted by a public address system, I used a performance by the United States Army, obtained from a U.S. Army web site that says the recording is in the public domain and available for any use.

First, Youtube flagged my video saying that Sony Music had a copyright objection to my video. I contested their copyright claim and thankfully, Sony Music promptly agreed with me and let me continue to use the video.

But then another company that specializes in rights management issues made a claim, without saying even what it was claiming. I tracked down their company, their web site, and their formal process for contesting their copyright claim. I filled out all the forms, noting the only music is that of the US Army’s performance of Taps, a song written in 1862 for which this publisher did not have a copyright – but this company never even bothered to reply. To this day, that video remains banned in Germany even though it does not have any copyrighted material in it.

This is troubling since various law and treaty proposals (not yet passed) would give ultimate take down authority to rights holders to accuse anyone of copyright violation and with out any due process, your work could be taken down, and there is no recourse nor penalties for false accusations.  And this is pretty much what exists on Youtube today.


Stock Photos and Royalty Free music

Royalty Free Stock Photos at Good photos, low prices.

Other good sources include the Zemanta plugin in WordPress that tries to fetch public domain photos for use on your blog. I only use them for non-commercial purposes as many of them go back to Flickr or Wikipedia and other public sources.

For music, check out Incompetech.  Free for personal, non-commercial use – although I have donated to him as donations are certainly encouraged.

Separately, I posted a civil war battle re-enactment video on Youtube last night and shortly thereafter received a Youtube email saying that my video may violate a Sony music copyright.  All videos on Youtube are automatically scanned by a pattern matcher that looks to see if copyrighted music is in your video.

A problem I have noted in the past is that this cannot distinguish between legitimate, even licensed use of music. In my case, they objected to the use of Taps, music written by a bugler and a General during the U.S. Civil War in about 1862, to honor the death of soldiers. By about 1871, Taps had become standard at military funerals and was formerly established as a standard in 1891. My recording came from the United States Army. I am having a hard time seeing how Sony has a copyright on a US Army performance of a Civil War era piece of music and have submitted this to Youtube’s dispute resolution.

Here is the video – a 2005 re-enactment of a Civil War battle:

That video was shot originally in SD and even a little bit in digital 8 or Hi8 analog formats – I no longer remember. I remastered the video yesterday to take advantage of technology improvements available since 2005. This included color adjustments, slight sharpening, new titles, and eventually output of the 720×480 original video in 1440×960 size before uploading to Youtube. The result, surprisingly, is a video that looks much better than SD – its not HD, of course but it really does look a lot better. Watch it full screen!

Meanwhile, I am just starting to edit the 2011 battle re-enactment. I will be using almost exclusively, video shot on a GH-2, a bit on a Canon SX-1, and only a little on the XH A1 video camera. That latter is because I made a stupid boo boo and did not get the quality I wanted on the video images. Unlike past years, which are all edited on Final Cut Pro, this year’s is being edited using Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 11. Vegas does native AVCHD video editing, as well as Canon’s H.264 native format, and handles HDV – all without doing format conversions. I do not know when I will finish this as other things are a higher priority on my time.

Download YouTube Videos as MP4 Files

Download YouTube Videos as MP4 Files.

The above is the new official way from Google/YouTube. Its in test mode now but accessible by following those instructions.

If you use Firefox, there are also many plug-ins available that can enable you to download .FLV and .MP4 video files from YouTube.

Recently, YouTube’s HD videos are downloadable as MP4 video files but only in non-HD modes suitable for use on an iPod. If you want the HD versions, you need to download the .FLV file and then probably convert to MP4.

To download the FLV files, use Download Helper. A type YouTube video will show several alternative downloads for the currently playing video.

One blogger, Rishabh Singla, attempted to determine what the different types mean and came up with the following table:

  1. Basic / Normal: FLV; 718 KB; 1x; Low
  2. HQ18: MP4; 1.4 MB; 2x; Medium
  3. HQ22: MP4; 4.5 MB; 6.4x; Very high
  4. HQ35: FLV; 2.7 MB; 3.9x; High
  5. HQ37: Container?; Size?; Factor?; Super

However, since the new Download feature has been added to YouTube, I do not believe that HQ44 is consistently an HD “very high” quality video, as shown. Some times it is, but sometimes, the FLV file option is much better.

When the FLV file is better, I download the FLV and either play it with VLC – or, I convert it to MP4. If you are using Windows, look for the free FLV to Zune file converter. If you play with the various options, you can do a very nice conversion to 1280×720 MP4 format. (I need to update this post later – I can not seem to find which FLV to Zune converter I have and where I got it from. Meanwhile, here is a different free converter – I have not tested.)

YouTube now provides automatic subtitles, captions

Video News » Blog Archive » YouTube Adds Automatic Subtitles.

The new feature can automatically generate on-screen captions, which is very useful and valuable to those who are hearing impaired. The system can even translate to other languages.

As the narrator in the linked video notes,  “sometimes the automatic captions are pretty good” 🙂

Seriously – this is a fantastic new feature. Good job, YouTube!

Youtube adds 1080p capability

HD videos uploaded in 1920 x 1080/p will – probably – be transcoded by Youtube into 1080p videos. This represents an upgrade from Youtube’s 1280 x 720p maximum HD resolution.  (“Probably” because Youtube says not all videos will be converted just yet.)

The 1080p videos, however, are useless for most computer displays as few have 1920 x 1080 sized displays. The main advantage, probably, is that in a near future world, we will be watching streaming videos over the Internet – on our real HDTVs, arriving via a set top box.

Worse, you’ll need a very fast processor to watch the new 1080/p HD videos. I can’t watch them on a 3.2 Ghz Windows OS computer – and I can watch them on my quad core Mac Pro only if I wait for the video to download entirely, first. The problem is the video stutters badly as the processor cannot keep up with the Flash video decoding.

Recommendation: Upload the HD video but don’t select the HD option during play back.  It looks like the new “normal” is 1280 x 720 – so you don’t need to select HD.

youtube Failed (upload aborted)

uploading Failed upload aborted – YouTube Help.

Just an FYI – this is happening to me, also. It has been impossible to upload videos to YouTube the past couple of days. Actually, I can upload short videos, say 30 seconds long – YouTube gives an error but processes the video anyway. Longer videos, such as 5 minutes, always fail. I suspect this is due to YouTube’s new 1080p upgrade not working.

Nothing changed on my end – or for the many others experiencing this problem. Today is Saturday, November 21, 2009 for reference.

There is a work around, apparently: Use the multi-video or bulk video upload option. This does work for me and others.