I Won a Prince Takedown Request – or, online video copyright challenges

Every once in awhile, I receive a copyright takedown request for one of my videos. In two recent cases, I challenged the process and ultimately won – which means I didn’t have to take down or change the music bed to my video. Here’s what happened in both cases:

Case #1 – Prince and SirsiDynix. In 2010, at ALA Annual, I was invited to a SirsiDynix party. I went, video camera in hand, and took a short video of some dancing librarians. The song, played by a cover band, was Kiss by Prince. The video’s about 30 seconds long.

I posted a version of this video to my Vimeo account, and last year I received a takedown notice from Vimeo, saying that Prince (i.e., most likely some third party company hired to find his songs on the web?) was claiming a copyright infringement.

Case #2 – INgrooves claims a “free to use” song. Sometimes, I use Apple’s license-free  music that comes with iMovie as a music bed for some of my videos. In my video Busy Day, I did just that. I used a “free to use” song loop. No problem, right?

Late last year, I received a message from Youtube, saying that INgrooves was claiming the song was theirs.

What did I do? In both cases, Vimeo and Youtube have ways to contest the notice. With Vimeo and Prince, I argued Fair Use. With my Busy Day video, I shared that the music was already covered by a license. Both Vimeo and Youtube have pretty clear ways to argue your case.

In both cases, just by following through with an appropriate response, I was able to keep the video up with music intact.

Why share this? Because you might have to do the same for your organization or your personal video account at some point. If that happens, here’s a really simple tip (which I plan to start doing) – in the video description section of your Youtube post (I’ll use Youtube as an example), mention where the music came from. Be specific about it, too – where you found it (with a URL), if it had a Creative Commons license, if you wrote and performed it, if it was a loop-based creation, if it came with your video editing program, etc.

Do this as a reminder to yourself. Then, if you ever receive a Copyright notice or a takedown request, you’ll know where the music came from!

Will Copyright Catch up?

A couple days ago, I had an interesting “teaching moment” with my 14 year old. That evening, we decided to watch a movie. Usually we either pick a streaming movie off of Netflix or rent something from iTunes (yes, and once in awhile borrow it from the library).

This time, we wanted to watch Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Guess what? It was nowhere to be found. Disney has a weird practice of placing a sort of moratorium on their movies – meaning, you can’t buy or rent some of them. Not even from the Disney Store.

Anyway … mad librarian searching pro that I am … I solved our “we want to watch a movie” problem pretty easily. I did a quick Google search for beauty and the beast full movie and found a rogue streaming version that we could watch. We watched it, it worked fine, and we had a fun evening.

Afterwards, the 14 year old was asking why the movie was so hard to find, so I explained what Disney does with their movies, and how someone had decided to burn their DVD and upload the movie to a file sharing site, probably to “solve the problem.” And the fact that that’s sorta illegal. And that watching the illegal stream is probably a bit shady, too.

Ultimately, I was able to explain to my daughter how those copyright rules worked great before she was born, but they don’t really work now. Copyright in today’s world is kind of like enforcing a “no chewing gum within city limits” law. Impossible at best, ridiculously silly to attempt to enforce at worst.

Why? Because the web is so easy to use, and because there are so many file sharing and multimedia streaming sites. I’ll guess that if we tried hard enough, we could have watched the whole movie in chunks on Youtube. People like uploading movies and TV shows in chunks on Youtube. Slightly inconvenient, but it works.

In my family’s movie-watching case, who broke the law? Did we by watching? Did someone else by burning and uploading? Did the file sharing site, by providing a place to store files? Did AT&T, by providing my DSL line? The answer is probably … yes.

Is copyright broken? The answer is also a resounding yes. Can it be fixed? Probably so. I’m certainly no copyright expert, but I know it’s not working. Will it catch up to the 21st century? What do you think?

Making Video with Four DSLR Lenses

Last week, I was doing some video tests, and playing around with four different DSLR camera lenses. Here are the results of that – a video, showing what each lens looks like in a similar setting.

Here’s what I used in this video:

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i camera

Lenses:

  • Canon EFS 17-55 mm kit lens
  • Canon EF 50 mm Prime lens
  • Canon EF Macro 100 mm lens
  • Tokina AT-X Pro 116 DX II Wide Angle lens

Lesson learned? The Kit lens and the wide angle lens both worked great for this video. The Prime lens did ok too. The Macro lens? Not so much. So in an interview setting, the kit lens and the wide angle lens would both work great.

Fun stuff!

Four Tips to Make Mobile Video ROCK

In my recent post Online Video for 2013, I mentioned that 91% of American adults owned some kind of cell phone, and 41% of cell phone owners watch video on their phones.

What’s that mean? If you are making videos, they need to look and sound awesome on a smartphone! Here are four tips to make mobile video ROCK:

  1. Keep it short. With online video, the shorter the better. Especially if you’re watching it on your smartphone. A short video will load faster, and fits well with the “short snack” usage of smartphones (that “I’ve got a minute – let’s play with my smartphone” attitude).
  2. Make it loud. Audio is arguably the most important part of a video. Especially for libraries, since we’re most likely sharing some tidbit of information. So crank that volume up! There are a couple of great ways to do that. For starters, definitely get a better microphone for your camera, preferably one with a volume boost. Also, when editing, look for a volume boost setting, and turn it up (but not so far that you start distorting the sound – that’s bad).
  3. Get close. When making your video, get close to your subject. If it’s an interview, make sure the person being interviewed can be clearly seen on your camera’s window. So no “far away, full body” shots. Same with scenery shots – get as close as possible when it makes sense.
  4. Edit that script. For starters, actually HAVE a script of some sort. Not a “memorize these lines, say it exactly this way” type of script. Most of us librarians aren’t actors, after all. But do have an outline of points you want to cover or facts you need to share. Also, make sure to share one idea or thought, rather than 2-4 ideas or thoughts. Instead of one longer 5-6 minute video with ALL the facts, break that video up into a 3-part series of 1-2 minute videos.

Who is successfully making videos out there? Do you have some tips on mobile video that I haven’t mentioned? Please share them in the comments!

Online Video for 2013

The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently released their Online Video 2013 Report. Interesting stuff.

Here’s what I found interesting – lots of info, including:

  • 78% of American adult Internet users watch or download online videos (I thought it would be more, but that’s still a LOT of video being watched!).
  • 31% upload or post videos online. Again, wow!
  • 18-29 year olds do more – 41% of them upload or post videos.
  • What’s watched the most? Comedy, educational, How-to, and music videos.
  • Why? social media and mobile. Makes it easy to post and share and watch quick videos wherever.

How about video using mobile devices? Among adult cell phone owners:

  • 41% use their phones to watch video
  • 40% use their phones to record video
  • 20% use their phones to post videos online (that’s lower probably because doing so is handy, but it kills the battery!)
  • 45% of all adult internet users watch videos on social networking sites (57% of ages 18-49)
  • US adults – 91% own some kind of cell phone, at 56% own a smartphone

OK David – what’s this mean?

  • Start making good, useful (and fun) videos, and your customers will start watching them.
  • Share those videos in your social media channels – those customers are waiting for fun content to engage with (i.e., share, like, or comment).
  • Whatever you make, make sure it works well on mobile devices. So keep the video short, and the visuals and sound BIG (big enough to be clearly seen and heard on a smartphone).

What else? Please share your thoughts in the comments!