Major labels are removing personal covers of their copyrighted songs from Facebook
Copyright owners have always been in a state of conflict with consumers in terms of protecting their licensed content. The advent of streaming and facilitation of content-sharing brought on in the last decade through social media have embattled major labels with a previously inconceivable number of infringers. After levying a constant stream of DMCAs against publishers, aggregators, and consumers in retaliation in the past several years, majors have made some strides toward ameliorating their relationships with potential threats to their copyrights. By embracing platforms like Spotify, and neutralizing SoundCloud through comprehensive legal agreements, labels have managed to still reap profits while potentially threatening platforms remain operable – albeit, in a somewhat neutered form.
However, the struggle between copyright holders and potential infringers will never end as long as there is a desire for free content, and a means by which to monetize that content. The latest apparent way this struggle has taken shape has seen a major label take perhaps step too far: by removing individual Facebook users’ covers of copyrighted songs from their personal accounts. Digital Music News has reported the story of indie songwriter Sarah Hollins, whose video cover of DNCE’s “Cake by the Ocean” was removed after Universal Music issued a complaint.
Of course, Facebook is bound to comply to labels’ DMCAs – a platform of its size legally couldn’t operate were it to step outside such legal bounds. Yet, it’s a bit troubling that labels such as Universal are taking such abrasive, even capricious measures to protect their content. DMN‘s report notes that Hollins’ cover was posted on her account for eight months before being taken down. The publication further comments that DNCE’s song has over 300 million views on YouTube, in contrast to the 500 views which Hollins’ cover had amassed; clearly, Hollins’ post was neither an attempt to “steal” views from the original video, nor did it have the potential to do so.
Copyright holders have a legal claim to their content – but at what point does their defense of copyrights infringe on individuals’ privacy, and what factors determine when the juice is worth the squeeze?
View the takedown notifications which Hollins received from Facebook below: