Composers and developers up in arms for automatic copyright claims made on their behalf to YouTube content

YouTube copyright fiasco sparks INDmusic and TuneCore music claims

Update: INDmusic has responded to anger over the recent spate of copyright claims on YouTube videos.

Original story: Music firms TuneCore and INDmusic are making numerous copyright claims against YouTube game videos to monetise them, it has been claimed.

Claiming to be YouTube’s largest music network, INDmusic says it works with independent musicians, labels and content creators to monetise their videos "without sacrificing creative control or rights to their content".

On its website, the firm also states "we administer Master and Publishing Rights to generate additional income from unlicensed third-party uses".

It appears that stipulation has meant the company, along with TuneCore, is now automatically making copyright claims on behalf of its clients.

One game music composer, Magnus Palsson, who scored Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV, expressed his surprise and disappointment at INDmusic making claims on his behalf, and has even had his own videos flagged.

"If on Youtube you get copyright claims on your vids by "Indmusic" regarding *MY* music, then you can ignore them and tell them I said so," he tweeted.

In a series of tweets to TuneCore, Palsson asked how to stop fan videos getting flagged, for which he didn’t have contact details for, to which a Twitter representative for the company responded:

"…don’t know them, how could you give them permission to use your music? It’s claimed for you, since you wrote it."

Irish musician Gavin Dunne has expressed his dismay and INDmusic’s actions, revealing he has received a plethora of emails attacking him for making copyright claims, despite having not done so.

"Hey @indmusic could you please stop putting copyright claims for my songs ON MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL. Thanks," he tweeted.

"There has to be some law being broken here surely. This is NOT protecting the copyright owner."

He later added: "To clarify situation: Songs (not game content) are being claimed ‘on my behalf’ on my YT channel by Indmusic who then take 20% of my ad rev."

The issue is also affecting songwriters and composers outside of games. One musician, Charlie Parra, received a YouTube copyright claim for using one of his own songs.

UK indie and Thomas Was Alone developer Mike Bithell accused INDmusic of "systematically copyright claiming all footage" of his game and then monetising it.

He labelled the fiasco "daylight robbery".

"This is kinda disgusting, and I’m sickened that @indmusic are taking money from the pockets of a number of supporters of my game," he tweeted.

He added: "The only silver lining is that @indmusic and @TuneCore just destroyed their rep with all musicians and composers working in videogames."

Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail has also hit out at the copyright claims, and said although YouTube may want to shield itself from potential claims with recent changes, the claims had been "disproportionate".

"I can’t believe this. The games industry and video content creators finally start to work together and then this happens," he said.

"Musicians having their own videos hit with claims, entire games disappearing from YouTube even though they’re licensed."

The copyright claims from INDmusic appear to stem from a recent agreement with digital music distribution firm TuneCore, which signed a deal with INDmusic to help monetise YouTube videos.

The firm uses its own tech to find "the most YouTube videos that contain your music", enabling artists to claim money for their work.

After the deal, on December 12th – shortly followed by the recent copyright claims on YouTube – TuneCore amended its terms and conditions, as spotted by Reddit user BitBurner, which stated:

"TuneCore reserves the sole right at any time to modify, discontinue or terminate the Site and Services, or modify the Terms of Service without notice. All modified terms and/or conditions when posted on the Site shall supersede the prior agreement between you and TuneCore, and such revised Terms and Conditions shall constitute the entire agreement between you and TuneCore. By continuing to use or access the Site and/or Services after TuneCore makes any such modification, you agree to be legally bound by the revised Terms of Service. You may not alter the terms and conditions of the Terms of Service without TuneCore’s express written consent."

Under the grant of rights section, TuneCore states that by agreeing with its new terms, composers grant the firm the sole and exclusive right "to license, and cause others to license, and to collect all income related to any exploitation of the Compositions".

Develop has contacted INDmusic for comment on the matter.

Image credit: Jonas Bengtsson

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Vince Pavey

Vince Pavey joins MCV/DEVELOP

Vince Pavey joins Biz Media after spending the last six months working as a freelance writer for several publications, including Hero Collector, 110% Gaming and VG247