Google is gloating today over a tie-up between the viral “Wedding Entrance Dance video” and music companies, but the response by Google is nothing to be proud of.
The YouTube music management team writes on the Google blog that the rights holders to the song in the video (Forever by Chris Brown) used YouTube’s tools to claim and monetize the song, as well as to start running Click-to-Buy links over the video, giving viewers the opportunity to purchase the music track on Amazon and iTunes.
As a result, the rights holders were able to capitalize on the massive wave of popularity generated by “JK Wedding Entrance Dance” — in the last week, searches for “Chris Brown Forever” on YouTube have skyrocketed, making it one of the most popular queries on the site:
They boast “At YouTube, we have sophisticated content management tools in place to help rights holders control their content on our site.” The emphasis is mine, but it’s the key line: their content. When exactly did the VIDEO footage taken at the wedding become their content?
The YouTube rights management system makes complete sense when a user uploads a music video, because the video and the music belongs to the rights holders (in this case, the record company.) But when someone uses a copyright song in a derivative work, full rights for the derivative work are not automatically transfered to the music company; yes, the company still owns the rights over the music (where that music hasn’t been used under fair use or copyright exemptions, for example a parody work) but they don’t get rights to the video.
So why the hell is YouTube giving away the rights to video footage which the music industry has NO legal claim over?
It could, and will be argued by some that this is a fair exchange as the wedding video used music they had not licensed. But putting the suspect copyright decision by YouTube aside, the music industry is now stealing from fans. It would be theft in any situation like this, but lets consider the circumstances here.
The music company didn’t plan nor have any involvement in the production of the video. They didn’t promote the video, the creators did. And what has been the result?
Chris Brown’s “Forever” has again rocketed up the charts, reaching as high as #4 on the iTunes singles chart and #3 on Amazon’s best selling MP3 list.
Lets not forget that Chris Brown beats women for sport and is so tarnished that his songs have been banned from 99% of commercial radio stations. Any free promotion this low life gets is a massive bonus for his record label.
So why aren’t the creators of the video getting a cut of the action, particularly via the affiliate links YouTube plays over the video, the same links which have driven many of these sales? Wouldn’t it only be fair that monetization of a derivative work that only relies in part on a song such as this be split between the music rights holder and the creator of the video?
Google shouldn’t be gloating about this outcome, because they’re gloating about stealing from their users, and it’s a bloody disgrace.