Saturday, January 10, 2009

Graceland: Going, Going, Gone

A couple of years back I was passing through Memphis and I made the Elvis pilgrimage to Graceland. I took a bunch of pictures and made a slideshow set to music. Rather than going with an Elvis song like other nearly identical slideshows, I used Paul Simon's "Going to Graceland". That's about as creative as I get. It’s been a moderately successful video by my standards with over 5,000 views. Hardly Chocolate Rain territory, but I’m proud of it.

Now, over two years after I posted the video, I got this notice from YouTube:
A copyright owner has claimed it owns some or all of the audio content in your video Going To Graceland. The audio content identified in your video is Graceland by Paul Simon. We regret to inform you that your video has been blocked from playback due to a music rights issue.
YouTube offered a link to a service they have called AudioSwap that has thousands of fully licensed alternative tracks that they can hot-swap out with the original audio. After a little keyword searching, I found a tune called “Elvis (Was Bigger Than The Beatles)” by Supergarage that was not only on-topic, but nearly the exact same length as my video. Here is the newly updated version with the great new soundtrack:

I originally posted that video with a song from my personal library knowing full well that I was violating the copyright of the song as well as the YouTube terms of service. I have also been known to occasionally travel at speeds in excess of the posted legal speed limit.

I got caught, got busted, and paid my penalty. I’m actually grateful for YouTube’s AudioSwap service because a four and a half minute slide show without a soundtrack is pretty miserable.

What does rankle me is that if you do a search for “Paul Simon Graceland” you will quickly stumble onto this video:

It is clearly a ripped DVD performance of a live performance. It also has over 230,000 views. How does my video catch the attention of the record company copyright trawlers and this one escapes their notice? Perhaps the guy that posted it has some arrangement with Paul Simon or his record company. Or maybe he’s next on the list. I just don’t know.

I respect and appreciate the intellectual property system, but I’m baffled by the random and chaotic enforcement that seems aimed at harassing and frustrating the casual fan and the hobbyist YouTube user. The most famous travesty is one where a takedown notice came to a lady that had filmed 30 seconds of her toddler bouncing to a barely audible Prince song. My case, where I clearly used the full song, is far less ambiguous, but it still strikes me as oddly petty on the part of the record companies. There has to be a better way, I’m just not smart enough to figure it out.

So what do you think of the Supergarage song?


trusty getto said...

Dude, I'm tellin'. I think the Elvis Estate owns every single one of those images.

You are a one man crime spree, that's what you are.

Elizabeth said...

I liked it!

yellojkt said...

Unlike the RnRHoF, Graceland allows non-flash photography. I figure as long as don't use the images commercially I'm in the clear.

Needles said...

I stole a stamp once in first grade and some 45 years later, still harbour some guilt. How can you live with yourself? (hehehe)

thanks for the comment on najuremonomo. I figure it will expose the month to a completely different audience. Now if only I could figure out how to get the 2009 picture to load properly.

2fs said...

Law enforcement is always somewhat arbitrary, especially when it's impossible to catch every violator (such as speeding, for example).

Now I have to worry that the 5-second video of one of our cats that I posted on my Flickr site will get zapped due to the Robyn Hitchcock song playing in the background...

yellojkt said...

Don't get me started on speeding tickets. I consider those reverse lottery tickets.

A Free Man said...

Copyright enforcement on the web is so erratically enforced. Sometimes things just get ignored, but every now and again the record companies wade in brandishing their DCMA like a battle axe - it's madness.