Content ID Run Amok: Isaac's Lip-Dub Proposal Removed from YouTube

I’ve written a couple times about YouTube’s Content ID in the past, the powerful and oft-abused technology used to automatically detect potential copyright infringement and allow the purported copyright holders to block or monetize videos.

You probably saw Isaac’s adorable lip-dub proposal, choregraphed by a bunch of drama geeks in Portland.

In the Vimeo description, they also posted the video to YouTube, which is now “blocked on copyright grounds.” There’s only one possible infringement claim, and that’s the soundtrack, which used Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.”

Despite the fact that Bruno Mars himself loved the song:

Before blocking copies of the YouTube video, Warner Music Group filed a DMCA notice with Google to remove 27 links to the song from their search results.

There’s a strong argument that their non-commercial use of the song should be fair use, and that hyperlinks from Google should never be censored, but let’s just grant WMG the benefit of the doubt. It’s their song, and they’re clearly the copyright holder.

Instead, I want to draw attention to the other claimants for the YouTube copyright takedown — Keshet, La Red, and Scripps Local News.

I wasn’t able to find any information about Keshet and La Red, but why would Scripps be listed in the copyright claim?

A number of Scripps-owned local ABC TV affiliates aired the story, like this report from ABC 2 Baltimore. Content ID is smart enough to detect partial use of a video, and now even detects the melodies in cover songs. But it’s not smart enough to figure out that the original video predated the newer upload, as in this recent example with a comedian’s video broadcast on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

So the Scripps TV broadcasts are indexed by YouTube, and the Content ID robots do the rest. And because Content ID disputes are judged by the copyright holder, complaints are routinely ignored or denied.

As a final stupid footnote, there are still multiple copies of Isaac’s proposal on YouTube. The most popular? This one — uploaded by a TV news network.


    Horrible. This has pretty much broken YouTube for anything popular. Of course the music labels are going to continue being stupid about copyright until they’ve burned themselves to the ground.

    I was going to buy this Bruno Mars song for my 9 year old daughter because she loves it (because even more she LOVES the proposal video). I’m glad I saw this, because now I am not going to buy the track, sure it’s only a buck and they’ll never notice, but I have grown too weary of the music companies over “protecting” their interests at the expense of both artists and fans. Sorry Bruno Mars and to my daughter, **** you WMG.

    I work for a music company and help manage the Youtube account of one of our artists, a string quartet. Their original recordings of classical music performances (which the quartet pays royalties for to perform and record) “match third party content” and despite me disputing this, clearly stating the reason, the claimant “GoDigitalMG” reinstated the claim. This means they show ads over my company’s professionally produced videos, and they get to decide whenever they wish to remove our videos from Youtube.

    #1. GoDigitalMG is such a bad example of this bullying that they have a website with only one static front page with no contact information whatsoever on it.

    #2. Emailing Youtube yielded a contact email to a GoDigitalMG personnel and the statement Please note that YouTube does not mediate copyright disputes. If you wish, you may resolve this issue directly with the claimant at [email protected]

    I think I’m going to advice my boss to consider other video platforms as this is too much liability for us to stomach (last thing I want to do is reuploading videos when they are removed).

    FYI, Keshet is an Israeli Media Group, jointly operating Israel’s Channel 2.

    I’m not sure it’s the same Keshet, but they have been known to submit DCMAs before.

    Hi Andy, long-long time lurker here. Three comments as to your post:

    The DMCA comlaint you linked to is dated February 17, 2012, so it probably had no direct connection to Issac’s Lip-Dub Proposal video (which, to my understanding, was produced on or about May 23, 2012).

    The information about the Israeli keshet media group (given by Ovesh’s comment above) may be the relevant one for your post’s subject. Apparently, the proposal video story was covered in their website as well (by the Channel2 news company, which is affiliated). Here is a google translation of the article –


    And I for one, wouldn’t give WMG the benefit of the doubt. They may be the copyright holders of the song, but it is us, the general public, who give it its value (the value which is reflected in- and derived from- its use in that exceptional video). It’s about time they start considering our opinion as well in the grand scheme of things.

    Well, maybe reason prevails after all: It appears that as of some point at the last 22 hours, the “original” (Youtube) video is back on.

    I agree, bypassing the DMCA is a moronic system. I just got a claim from La Red against a video whose content is entirely licensed under CC-BY-SA (and with one original author so there’s no confusion on authorship) Now some no-name station in the middle of Bumfuck, South America is going to slap ads on my video because they ran the same clip on their show nobody watches. Hell no! How do you say “Fuck off” in Spanish?

    Under the DMCA, it goes like this:

    “That video is actually mine”

    “No, the video is mine (or licensed properly)”

    “Fine, if you won’t listen to reason I’m suing you”

    But with Youtube’s system it’s just begging for abuse:

    “That video is actually mine”

    “No, the video is mine (or licensed properly)”

    “Oh well, I’ll take your money anyway”

    “Please stop taking my money!”

    “How are you gonna stop me?”


    “Exactly. Now bend over”

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