I'm not known for being the most serious guy...
But this is a serious subject!
If you have created (or if you plan to create) a spoken-word recording that uses royalty free background music, then this is absolutely essential reading. Without proper care, your recordings may cause other people's recordings to be burdened by false copyright claims. How this happens is best explained with an example.
This is Melanie
Melanie has created a hypnosis recording with background music from Enlightened Audio. She published her recording on YouTube.
This is Andrew
Andrew created a guided meditation that uses the same background music that Melanie used in her recording.
Melanie and Andrew’s recordings are completely different, but of course the background music sounds the same.
To get his recording on Spotify and Apple Music, Andrew uses the services of a music distributor. There are many music distributors to choose from. Here are just a few of them:
Warner Music Group
If you wish to release your own recordings in places like Spotify and Apple Music then you will use a distributor too.
Here's where problems can creep in
Many distributors aim to protect your copyrights by periodically scanning YouTube to find videos that have used your recording without permission.
This scanning service is called “Content ID Matching”.
Content ID Matching is designed to catch people out for copyright infringement, but unfortunately it often backfires! This is because Content ID Matching on YouTube is conducted by a computer algorithm, not a real person. It can make mistakes!
Let’s see what this naughty scanning service does for Andrew…
Andrew’s distributor uses Content ID Matching to scan YouTube and it finds Melanie's video. It listens closely and notices that some parts of Melanie's video sound the same as Andrew's recording. Even though Andrew and Melanie’s recordings are different, the scan only takes notice of those parts that match – the parts between speaking where the same background music is exposed.
The distributor incorrectly assumes that Melanie's video is infringing on Andrew’s copyright. It then does the following:
1. Places ads on the video in order to earn revenue for Andrew.
2. Initiates a Copyright Claim that may result in Melanie’s video being removed from YouTube if she does not respond.
This is a major inconvenience for poor Melanie, who has done nothing wrong. The Copyright Claim is incorrect, and yet she must now dispute the claim through YouTube and wait for the distributor to respond. In the meantime, Andrew is oblivious to the fact that this is happening. Neither his distributor nor YouTube makes him aware of the situation.
The true purpose of Content ID Matching
Content ID Matching should only be used by musicians who have released original music. It should never be used to protect spoken-word recordings that use royalty free background music. This is because royalty free background music is "non-exclusive" music, meaning that it can be used by multiple people.
How this problem MULTIPLIES
There may be many other YouTube videos that include the same background music that Andrew has used. As a result, Andrew’s distributor may burden many YouTube videos with incorrect Copyright Claims, potentially inconveniencing hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people over time.
Ouch! Don't be like Andrew.
What to do if you are in Melanie's situation
I recommend that you read the following article, which explains (a) how to remove the false copyright claim, and (b) how to ensure it never comes back.
What to do if you are in Andrew's situation
If you have already published a recording through a distributor, please contact them to ensure that they are not conducting Content ID Matching services for you. IMPORTANT - Your distributor might be performing Content ID Matching on your behalf without your knowledge!
Many distributors conduct Content ID Matching as part of a service called “Sync Licensing” or "Rights Management" and you may have inadvertently signed up for these services when you first provided a recording to your distributor. People make this mistake quite often!
If you are absolutely sure that your distributor is not conducting Content ID Matches with your recordings then you can ignore this article. But if there is any doubt in your mind, double-check with them or they may continue to initiate false copyright claims on multiple YouTube videos without your knowledge. Please don't delay, send your distributor an email that sounds something like this:
“Dear audio distributor, I have published the following recordings with you:
My recording Title 1
My recording Title 2
My recordings include royalty free background music. Can you please confirm that they are not included in any sync licensing and that you are not conducting any Content ID Matching on YouTube for these recordings.”
What to do if you have not yet published a recording
If you have not yet published any recordings, then simply keep this article in mind for future reference. When you do release your recordings through a distributor, make sure you decline any offers of Sync Licensing. In addition I recommend that you contact your distributor directly and make sure that they will not conduct any Content ID Matching for your recordings. You only ever need to do this once.
This principle applies to ALL recordings that use royalty free background music
Content ID Matching is a problem that can affect recordings that use non-exclusive royalty free music from ANY source, not just Enlightened Audio.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share this article with everyone you know who has created a spoken word recording. Don't hesitate. In my estimation only a small percentage of people know about the problems their recordings can cause as a result of Content ID Matching. By sharing this article you will help to illuminate others and save many people from frustration.
Christopher Lloyd Clarke
Composer and Director of Enlightened Audio