is big data analysis going to ruin things? Webcrawlers looking for copyright work and automated dcma requests, they seem to work the same as spam bots.
“A company called Believe Digital has made what I believe to be a fraudulent copyright claim against me for [the speech] I posted on YouTube,” Homer explained. “They’ve threatened no legal action, but have merely asserted ownership for the purpose of monetizing the video via advertising.”
Believe Digital, a digital distributor for independent labels and artists, looks like a professional outfit. However, taking over the monetization rights of what should be a public domain speech and then on top refusing to respond to Homer’s dispute encouraged us to dig deeper. It would prove an interesting exercise, even though we already suspected there had been a monumental screw-up.
After Believe Digital ignored TF’s attempts to discuss the issue, we spoke with Adam Holland, a Project Coordinator at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where he works on projects including the DMCA ‘clearing house’ Chilling Effects.
“Works produced by the Federal government are public domain. So the text of the speech itself is in the public domain,” Holland told TF.
“If the federal government made a recording of the speech, then that recording is public domain. The JFK Presidential library confirms that that at least one version of the recording is still public domain.”
Drilling down into Believe Digital’s repertoire we see that they represent a pair of artists called Harley & Muscle. Their track, Open Society, features something of interest throughout most of the track.
We Believe Digital really trying to suggest that the original JFK speech infringes their rights, or could there be another explanation?
As pointed out by Adam Holland, a government audio recording of the speech would be in the public domain, meaning that Harley & Muscle could have simply sampled that. However, their use of a separate and private recording would be a different matter.
“It’s possible that someone else, a private individual, made a recording of the speech in question, and the copyright status of that sound recording or A/V work would be more complex, but it’s likely the individual would have a valid copyright in that exact recording,” Holland explains.