Maria Schneider: ‘The vast majority of music on YouTube is uploaded by people with no legal right to do so’

The Grammy-winning jazz composer and performer has launched an all-out attack on what she calls ‘Youtube’s illegal busiess model.’

…Since 2014, YouTube has substantially influenced the behavior of hundreds of millions of its users toward infringement, fermenting a veritable pirate orgy.   YouTube goes way beyond turning a blind eye to the marauding masses; it actively seduces its users into illegal behavior, and has even managed to make its users believe pirate behavior is beneficial to creators.

Essential reading for all musicians.



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  • The opposite is true as well. If you post your own performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 5 or Dvorak Carnival Overture, YouTube allows rights organizations to claim they have rights to the work, preventing you from monetizing those performances. Managing this is much like playing a game of whack-a-mole. You contact a rights organization saying Beethoven’s Fifth is in the public domain, and after several months of back-and-forth, they remove their claim, and another organization then establishes a new claim.

    Bottom line—the YouTube system is broken on both sides—allowing infringement on the one hand, and allowing fraudulent claims on the other.

    • This is really true.
      Not only the so-called rights organisations do, but even a major record company is doing it too.

      The record company sells music of Mozart’s concerto performed by their artist, but they claimed that the video of someone else performing the same Mozart concerto at a competition infringed ‘their’ copyrights.

      What kinds of copyrights do they have on it?

      • A recorded performance of a public domain work holds a copyright, as does an arranged, or even just fingered (say for guitar or violin) version.

        • Yes, a recorded performance has a copyright, which is held by the record company. There are there are two kinds of copyrights—the Work itself, and the performance. Both of these rights are managed through a YouTube automated system that matches rights holders claims to YouTube uploads. The problem is that YouTube does not manage this at all and leaves it up to the rights holder (with their armies of attorneys) and posters. So if you post YOUR OWN video of a performance of Tchaikovsky SYmphony No. 5, at least 3 rights holders will claim ownership of the theme in the second movement as a work, even though it is public domain. The result is they prevent you from moentizing your video, and the monetize it themselves. So when people watch YOUR video, they make money. When you contest it, they threaten that if you contest something that isn’t yours, you will be sued. When you contest anyway, it takes about 2-3 months before they release their claim. Once they release their claim, another organization makes the claim and it starts all over again. YouTube should simply not permit ownership claims for public domain works, but they refuse to take this step (I’ve asked and their response is that they leave that up to the rights organizations—they just provide the technology).

        • Did you read my comment carefully?
          And have you read my other comment below?
          Then you’ll get to know more about it.

          The record company certainly made false claims, not only once, but twice.
          But the one who uploaded it appealed and the record company couldn’t help accepting the truth that they didn’t own any bit of the rights to the video and music and performance, and therefore the video didn’t infringe any of ‘their’ copyrights.

          It wasn’t played or composed or arranged, or even just fingered by any of their artists.
          It was played by someone else and composed by Mozart, who was certainly not one of their artists.

          I wouldn’t repeat the same things here again.
          If you cannot understand what I and David are saying, do read my comment below.

          Nowadays, even if someone uploads his or her own performance of the works which are in the public domain, the so-called rights organisations and/or the record company do make claims almost instantly.
          It wasn’t the only case I’ve seen.
          Even if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it has happened to others.

          • Indeed, if you record yourself playing a public domain work, or if you record someone else performing a version of a public domain work and have permission to share it, all is good. But youTube’s system is so corrupt and time consuming that I’m not surprised that record companies are targeting anything that might be theirs.

          • Do you know what the funniest thing is?

            The album of the Mozart concerto performed by one of the company’s artists only came out in January 2016 and the performance in the competition happened in 2011.

            This clearly shows that the competitor wasn’t even able to copy or borrow any bit of expression or interpretation from their artist’s playing recorded on the CD, let alone such things like an arrangement.

            However, the record company and so-called rights organisations made claims and blocked the video because they could do.
            Apparently, YouTube has given them a right(?) to do so.

            It seems that some rights are truly wrong.

          • Here are some good examples that can illustrate the cases mentioned above.
            After reading these, you’ll get clearer ideas about what the small and big music companies are doing to innocent artists and creators.





            These cases are just some of the loads.

            If you want to see more, just ‘google’ it with such keywords like companies’ names + youtube + claim / false claim + whatever you want to put.

            The so-called rights organisations are rights management companies and represent various labels and music business companies.

            In the case I’ve mentioned above, those which made false claims were minor labels (some of which I’d never heard of before) and one super big classical label and a kind of music agency representing other classical musicians and even a distributor/seller.

            After the first dispute, most of them dropped their claims except one big company.
            How and why?
            Just say ‘No!’ and then the YouTube team will send you a short email that the company still doesn’t accept your dispute.
            Then the process gets much more complicated and difficult.

            The common thing about them is that they are making money by selling the music and the performances of the public domain works such as Mozart’s and Beethoven’s.
            But they claim when others are doing it, even if not selling but when just posting their own performances of the free works.

            Why are they doing it since they know more than anyone else as they are running classical music business that it doesn’t make any sense.
            Even if false claims are finally released, the process is truly painful and harmful.
            The worst thing is that it’s not only happening in the music industry.

            I think it is kind of dictatorship.

  • Schneider does have a point, but the reality is that music is now being made available for free with a number of internet services some legally, some not. Artists will need to be creative to find ways to make a profit off of their work in the age of the internet.

    YouTube, however, has provided an educational opportunity in make previously unheard works and historical performances more widely available to the general public. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found previously unavailable music now thankfully posted on YouTube. It’s a better alternative than having a recording lost to history.

    In addition, if available, there are often links in the video description to iTunes,Amazon or other web stores where you can purchase a legal copy of a given work. And I always follow the link to purchase a copy.

    • “Artists will need to be creative to find ways to make a profit off of their work in the age of the internet.”

      I have a super innovate way; put thieves to prison and claim the stolen property back! Get people to pay for the goods they purchase!

      Although I believe this is going to change. Internet is still new, Youtube is newer. Killing off those sorry arses who don’t want to pay for what they eat, drink or listen to is going to a piece of cake. And than I’ll be laughing sooo loud 🙂

  • Currently there are more than 200 unauthorized tracks of my music that have been uploaded by thieves to be exploited by history’s biggest fence, youTube.

  • ABSOLUTELY CORRECT !! And the damage done to record companies and artists is enormous. Some people aren’t even ashamed to use the commercial CD cover as an illustration of their clip.
    Youtube IS wonderful but the reins on it have been much too loose.
    I have a youtube clip myself but would never use a recording still in commercial circulation.

  • You can find pretty much any classical work on Youtube, uploaded by someone who is neither the artist nor the recording label.

    That’s handy when you want to hear some obscure piece but I’m sure it’s killed off the market for them.

    I’m quite doubtful of people who claim they “always purchase a copy” after finding something on YouTube.

  • Google/Youtube is one of the biggest criminal organization in history of mankind. Period.
    Also from making billions from advertisement click bait hosted on illegal download sites.
    A good lawsuit claiming punitive damages should come up with trillions of dollars google/youtube aka Mafia 2.0 should spit out for their criminal intent.

  • I have never heard of Maria Schneider, but after reading her complaints and seeing she was a jazz composer (a genre I occasionally dip into), I found many of her recordings in lossless quality on a torrent site and downloaded them in just a few minutes. YouTube should be the least of her worries, and by attacking filesharing, she’s more likely to drive people to it than to drive them to shops to buy her releases.

  • I love YouTube. I have a channel there, where I regularly upload things I find artistically valuable and that have never before been published. Lots of people are very grateful and happy about this opportunity to get to know works and/or artists they might never have seen or heard (of) before. Occasionally I receive a copyright strike and might have to wait for 6 months to be allowed longer uploads again. Oh well…I try to take it easy. Someone thinks they are not getting to squeeze all the money they could have if it were not for YouTube? Too bad. Those guys are getting well enough payed for their concerts, and I’m sure, creative as they are, they and their agents are going to devise new ways of profiteering now that the recording industry is in its last throws.

    • When I steal your car I will be sure to post a “this isn’t my car and I don’t own the rights to drive it” notice in the window.

      • When someone steals a car, you take it away from someone. When you steal a sound file, the original sound file will still be there…..

        • But it’s not up to you to decide what should be protected property. I believe that you will not be harmed if I steal your car. You’ll still have the memory of your great times together.

          • Haha, love it. After all, you have not stolen his opportunities, to exploit the wonderful memories of his car. These memories are still there. Amazing, what psychological constructs people invent, in order to justify stealing.

        • You have a cow. The cow gives birth to a calf. I take the calf. You keep the cow. My calf, you still have the cow. OK?
          Are you for real?

          • It happens that I’m not in the cow-having business; I’m in the calf-selling business. I bought the cow, fed the cow, and paid to have the cow impregnated. But every time a calf is born, some jerk steals it and on the way out posts a note on my cow that says “I do not own the rights to this calf, but don’t worry, you still have the cow.”

          • Yea, I know, Peter. I just liked the cow/calf example and wanted to share it. But don’t worry, it’s still your analogy. “I do not own the rights to this analogy,”

    • Mick, you have no idea whatsoever about people’s right to earn a living through their creativity, without which you would have nothing to dusseminate illegally. Copyright protection is the LAW, and you who violate that are THIEVES. Period.

    • I also love YouTube, but you can’t argue “those people make enough money.” Creators of music have a right to be paid for use of their music – that’s basic copyright law.

    • I understand those who feel they are on the receiving end of it. As I said, I might occasionally be “punished” by YouTube for some perceived infringements as well, but I hope that on the whole YouTube shall carry on the same way, without tightening the screws too much. A lot of people are happy with the present state of things there, and after all, you can’t please everyone. Some will call me a thieve, others will say “Thanks for sharing”.

      • Or both, since you’re sharing stuff you stole. Sometimes you’re Robin Hood, stealing from BeyoncĂ© and giving to the less fortunate. Sometimes you just a creep, stealing from work-a-day musicians to give to folks who are better off than them. But either way, you are indeed a thief.

        • An interesting twist…If I ever get ‘Thanks for sharing, thief’ in the comments, I’ll know who it was. See you on YouTube!

      • I am not certain why it seems so difficult for Mick to understand this issue. Whether or not “a lot of people are happy with the present state of things” or “you can’t please everyone,” both statements are completely irrelevant to the act of thievery. Neither the public at large nor YouTube can change the realities of copyright law, and circumventing the law is criminal!

        • Clearly laws should be followed, but the actual topic here is YouTube’s enforcement policies that some people feel to be far too lenient. In my view they are too strict, and that’s basically all I was trying to say.

      • ????? The actual topic is YouTube’s enforcement policies????? If you steal something from a store, you are no less a thief if the store’s security guards are lax. “Leniency” on the part of one institution in enforcing a universally applicable law does not alter the criminal nature of violating that law. Your delusional comments indicate that you feel you have the individual right, or that YouTube has the corporate right, to choose whether you or they WISH to respect copyright infrindgement laws. Creating compositions, performances and/or recordings is the way musicians make a living. If what we do had no value, you would not be going to the trouble of stealing it. Do NOT pretend for one moment that you are performing a public service. Copyright material is available for purchase!

    • You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. No matter what contorted “logic” you spin, you’re still a thief. The product of an artist’s creative work is theirs to distribute, OR NOT, as they see fit. It makes no difference whether or not they make money in other ways; it makes no difference whether you’re not making a penny off what you post. You don’t have the right to assert control over their work. It really is that simple.

    • Mick, do you have a car? Isn’t it sad that other people can’t drive your car, because they didn’t buy it? Would you mind if I copied the keys, and gave them to lots of other people so that they could also enjoy driving your car?

      These tracks you are uploading are only recorded because record companies have spent many thousands of pounds in recording them. If people don’t then buy the recording in order to hear the tracks, the record company cannot get their money back, as there will be umpteen people just listening to it on YouTube rather than buying a copy. Yes, YouTube is supposedly monetized via its ads, but in reality it adds up to a pittance, as we all know. And, anyway, the decision to upload it isn’t yours to take, regardless of the ads. Use it as an excuse if you like, but you’re illegally uploading them, no two ways about it. You know that small writing that runs around the edge of a CD? Maybe read it sometime…

      Anyway, the upshot is that record companies will not invest in putting songs out there again if they don’t make enough money. But, hey, as long as you get to enjoy yourself in the meantime and share these recordings with the rest of world, who’s bothered, right?

  • Maybe it’s not directly relevant to what she said, but I’ve recently seen another odd case of YouTube – copyright things.

    One of the major record companies (or who insisted that it was) recently claimed that their copyrights were infringed and they tried to take down a video on YouTube over and over again.
    That video was of a very talented young artist playing Mozart’s piano concerto at a famous competition, a few years back.

    It was known that the record company insisted that the performance had some kind of similarities to the recording of their artist who recorded the same piece before.
    Of course, it must have had similarities, because it is the same concerto by the same composer, Mozart, but who can make a claim out of this reason in classical music?

    As far as I know, Mozart’s works are all in the public domain, which means they are free for everyone to play.
    None of the classical musicians nowadays pays any copyright fees to play them.
    Do they?
    And none of them (the performer, the agency, the record company that the artist belongs to, the competition organisers, the orchestra, the conductor) asked YouTube to take it down.
    Apparently, the competition organisers even used it to publicise their competition by making a link to the video, but YouTube instantly accepted the claims so the video had been hidden for a while.

    I’m wondering why the company that didn’t have any rights made claims not only once, but twice.
    On what ground?

    Anyway, she filed an appeal and explained about the situation.
    The repeated claims were finally rejected and the video was back on YouTube again.
    She wrote about it on her blog.

    I understand Maria’s rage and I have absolutely no intention of pushing any artist to offer his or her music free.
    I just hope that the system gets better to make it fairer and simpler to the creators.
    Wouldn’t it be much better if the money goes to the creators rather than the pirates?

    I’ve never uploaded anything on YouTube so I don’t know how exactly the system works, but it seems that many pop musicians and companies are making money by uploading their music and making it available only on their channels.
    Why should it not happen to jazz or classical musicians?
    Clearly, we can’t go back to the vinyl era, but maybe there must be better solutions.

  • I guess there’s one BIG RULE to follow. Do not upload anything that’s commercially issued and still available.
    I don’t mind uploading a recording which has been long out of print and record companies have/had no interest in re-issuing. In that sense youtube has a “mission” (forgive the word) of preserving and making available recordings otherwise lost.
    Yet some people have no shame (even using the official record cover) and are indeed thieves and stealing from record companies and artists especially while the recordings can still be bought in the record shop.

  • The worst insult of this is that I made myself watch a Scott Fields video. Four guys playing banjo in a bedroom. Big commercial property you’re protecting there……

    • That is a different Scott Fields. He’s a born-again Christian Bluegrass singer who doesn’t, I think support himself through music. And I think he’s the source of those videos. I am also not Scott Fields the African-American football player or Scott Fields the basketball coach and motivational speaker.

  • What do we actually know about the effect of YouTube on record sales? This jazz musician, who uses the name of the late bosomy French actress (how’s that for appropriation), may think that sales of her recordings are harmed, but are they? Does she think that every view of her video represents a lost sale?

    Someone named Rihanna has a video that has been watched 480,000,000 times (and that’s since mid March)! Absent YouTube would half a billion people be buying that song? I don’t think so.

    I would never consider purchasing any of the vast majority of videos I watch on YouTube. On the other hand, I have sought out CD’s of a few that, without that service, I would not even know were in existence.

    • Yes, but the legal right to upload a song to YouTube lies with the record company, not with an individual who bought a CD and wants to share it with the rest of the world. That’s the issue.

    • “This jazz musician, who uses the name of the late bosomy French actress (how’s that for appropriation)” Hey, what are you talking about? She’s using, as far as I know, her real name, why should she change it because of a nearly-forgotten actress, remembered for one role only?

  • Real Question: How many of the regular commenters here in one of our conversations referred us to a YouTube link to a performance that was copyrighted? Does Norman vet the links and block any that would infringe on the artist’s or record label’s copyright?

  • It’s always fascinating how schizophrenic and distorted the human mind can become.
    I have experienced many hardcore market economy and private property advocates do a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and advocate communism, when it comes to musicians and their products.

    • Advocates of free markets have never completely agreed on whether intellectual creations or digital information should be included under the definition of “private property” that a free market is based on. The entire idea of copyright, which only arose a few centuries ago by government fiat, strikes many as being a form of interference in the free market. Nothing schizophrenic at all about it.

      • The “free market” does not mean that everything is free. By contrast, Communism would set a uniform value, no matter what the supply and demand, which in this case is ZERO since all of these viewings are being stripped of their copyright protection. Even if the concept of copyright protection needed to be changed, there is a process through which to accomplish that without criminal activity.

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