How Youtube screws small creators

How Youtube screws small creators


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2021

Marina of The Piano Keys keeps getting her videos taken down by Youtube, constantly getting told that Bach and Mozart are in copyright.

She has no recourse to appeal.

It’s a common complaints, and it’s getting worse.

Maybe we all need to club together and get a big law firm onside.




  • April says:

    A very charming person!
    Operavision also had or have odd copyright issues with youtube and they are a big organisation with maybe a lawyer or two. At some time there were lots and lots of ads in the performances that had nothing to do with operavision, so many ads, that one could not properly watch the opera anymore. Apparently that was also tricky to solve or is unsolved.

    • V.Lind says:

      Try Adblock. Free and quick to d onload, and easy to whitelist sites on demand.

      • April says:

        One can watch the videos on the operavision page without the ads (but slightly different set-up). But operavision themselves were saying in the comments section on youtube that they don’t understand the copyright claims that had been made on the youtube page, since they made no sense. My point was just, that even big shots have these strange copyright issues. Something flawed in the system.

  • Chris Walsh says:

    Wait a minute, were Bach and Mozart ever in copyright to begin with? Didn’t they die before international copyright was a thing?

    • Jean says:

      Depends who is performing. Their AI automatically thinks that all Beethoven symphony tracks are either by Bernstein or Karajan. And all Mozart piano tracks by Uchida. And so forth.

  • Andy says:

    So SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada – see 4’37” of the video) claims to own the copyright of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”?

    I wonder if SOCAN has YouTube-monetized the rest of Beethoven’s œuvre. Maybe they own Mozart’s catalog as well.


  • This happens all the time, unfortunately. One must immediately post a copyright claim dispute, which is usually resolved within a week or two. Unfortunately, I had to take down a clip once because the claimant was not willing to acknowledge the dispute, but usually it works if there are no other issues involved (such as video).

    At one time, my YouTube clip of myself performing the Chopin B-flat minor Sonata was flagged as being played by four different pianists (unfortunately, none of the four were Arthur Rubinstein or Vladimir Horowitz…). They have flagged my clip of a Brahms concerto at different times as being played by Emil Gilels and/or as Maurizio Pollini (which I was a little less peeved about). I have screenshots of the claims which I saved as evidence.

    The software used by YouTube often cannot differentiate between different performances of the same work. It is not so trivial when one considers the story of Joyce Hatto and her husband, for example, who actively tried to evade detection of their deceptions.

    Unfortunately, there are some bad actors on YouTube who try to claim a dispute so as to monetize the clip in question … only by filing a dispute can they be prevented from collecting ad money on clips that do not belong to them.

    • Phillip Sear says:

      That’s an interesting post, Robert. I have sometimes had the same problem (although not recently). Dealing with it is made harder by the fact that – unless things have changed recently – there is no obvious dispute path for a false content match, probably because the system is designed to catch people using recordings as backing tracks for videos rather than people producing their own performances of oft-recorded works. Looking through the video descriptions on other people’s performance videos, I am shocked by the number of apparently uncontested false content matches that are listed.

    • At the beginning of this clip, there are a couple of screenshots relevant to what I mentioned above:

  • Eusebius says:

    I think Emperor Leopold II held Mozart’s copyright maybe we should ask permission from his descendants.

  • Sarcastic Bastard says:

    Who cares about her?
    All the counts is the software, haha!

  • Bostin'Symph says:

    She seems to be the victim of an opportunistic copyright scammer. Unless YouTube sit up and take notice of this kind of issue, rather than being the faceless, stonewalling entity that Marina seems to have encountered, then the viability of this kind of video creation is thrown into doubt. YouTube’s response (or lack, thereof) seems to favour the scammer by default.

  • Bostin'Symph says:

    You can find Wicca Moonlight on YouTube played by Alice Violet Molland. It is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. It claims that the composer is Alice Violet Molland. So Alice Violet Molland is the composer of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Apparently.

    Presumably she or her company are behind the claim? Or are they innocent victims too?

  • Nijinsky says:

    So this is why when you listen to so many videos on youtube, the artists are listed underneath as someone else although the video itself says clearly in its listing who the artist is, which you can see while they are playing, and that it’s not who and whose outfit is getting the proceeds from the ads put on the video. That’s more than not it seems digital scamming to see how much they can get rounding up other people’s performances as their own.

    And if you try to actually articulately deal with it, you can end up buried in prefabricated responses to wear you down, red tape and the rest of the corruption.

    • SVM says:

      It is indeed an outrage, but let us remember that the persons who have benefited from false attribution have often played no personal part in the erroneous rights claim. My understanding is that most of these misattributions are made by an automated algorithm, managed by Youtube itself, called “ContentID”, which has access to a very large percentage of recordings released by commercial record companies. Thus, the real scandal is that Youtube does not have an adequate mechanism for declaring the correct rightsholders **at the time of upload**, does not have an adequate mechanism for paying royalties on recordings that are not released by a commercial record company, and does not have an adequate mechanism for rectifying errors and disputes. This has been a longstanding issue for many years (and has been raised on multiple occasions on Slipped Disc), and Google’s failure to do anything about it demonstrates its utter contempt for classical music (or indeed any musical tradition involving a large quantity of rightsholders who are not represented by major record companies).

  • Ellis Cage says:

    “Copyright trolling” by dishonest individuals, bots, hackers and corporations has been rife for years on Youtube.

    It is even happening on completely original compositions. The second you upload your composition, your intellectual property gets claimed by professional ContentID trolls. Correcting it is a unwinnable battle.

    This for me, was the main reason I left the music industry years ago, the last straw.