The nascent days of the Internet were a heady time, full of ambitious types deploying Wild West antics such as claim jumping. Google was one of those claim jumpers.
As a content creator (book author), I remember the day I heard Google was scanning entire books to make that content freely available to everyone. After all, knowledge is power, they said, and if we share it then won’t the world just be a better place? Whether they knew it or not, at that time Google was the foremost leader in gutting copyright protections, waging battle after battle to stake their claim to sharing content. They said, “It’s an old book. Why should the author care anyway?”
However, they learned fast that what they were doing was wrong because content creators such as myself screamed and hollered about them taking away our ability to make money with our intellectual property. Google found out that the words on a page they were gleefully scanning for their massive library did not belong to them for the taking — even if the sharing was for such a noble reason.
The lesson Google learned at the hands of content creators has been learned by many others, too, while benefiting many. For instance, it is permissible to take a peek.
Look Inside is a popular feature on Amazon.com that helps to sell a book.But Amazon.com does not put the entire book up there, and they only allow the peek inside if the rights owner says they can. And the Wiki system of freely sharing with the world is a much better system as it links to source material made available by rights owners. Everybody wins.
I bring this up to show you that Google not only learned from their altruistically inclined mistake, they have also improved the way content creators can make money: Most notably in the realm of the music business where The Bigs (the major labels and publishers, and certain popular digital aggregators) currently manipulate a system they created to sell or otherwise benefit from intellectual property rights.
The strength of that manipulation is not who The Bigs let in to play in their sandbox. It’s who they keep out — and it’s who they keep confused.
I’ve been saying for quite some time now that if The Bigs want to manipulate their own system, let them. They’re doing such a bad job that they are no longer a vibrant part of the music industry, and their business is on life support only waiting for the doctor’s arrival to call time of death to turn off the machine.
In other words, the gorilla’s corpse is stinking already and no amount of perfume is going to cover up the stench.
But where will the industry go? I designed this graphic…
…to show where the music business is going. It seems Google agrees with me as they are systemizing rights management within their YouTube platform. You can read the Hypebot.com article here from Christophe Muller, a top YouTube exec to understand why this is a big deal for me, the inventor of an easy to use, pre-release, rights-proving system of documentation.
Still, there is a large hole in the system of rights management. That hole is being exploited by The Bigs. That hole begins with, and can only be plugged by, the content creator. You see, YouTube can only best do their job when the uploaded content comes with clear proof of who the rights holders are. That is still a big sucking hole in the business these days, as this open letter I wrote to Kanye and Jay Z points out.
YouTube has manned up on behalf of the content creator. And just like in the late 90s when Google overstepped their bounds and authors took to the streets demanding the courts make Google do the right thing, creators of music — songwriters, artists, publishers — and those who service them — agents, managers, recording studies, and more — are beginning to rise up and do what it takes to protect and defend their right to make money with their product.
But those who are now rising up are only the small crack in the ice that shall soon break off from the industry and float free. Technology exists today, and more is coming — such as Blockchain, that allows proper tracking of music. Deploying that technology is getting easier as more companies are realizing that servicing the artist (especially the DIY/Indie that is also the songwriter and publisher) will build a new system of prosperity and healthy growth in an industry that is anything but.
YouTube is part of that. I got an email this morning from someone who received a copyright infringement claim from YouTube on behalf of CD Baby. He thought I would find it interesting what happened. Four days after the notice from YouTube, and after the artist/songwriter/publisher produced evidence to support his dispute, CD Baby backed down from their infringement claim. If this guy had not had the evidence, he would have had to take down his own song video, weakening his market efforts. YouTube will do this on behalf of anyone — even the DIY/Indie. Not only that, YouTube’s response time is faster than ever before because they are deploying the infrastructure the world will soon come to depend on for copyright protections.
This DIY/Indie guy above gets it. As a songwriter, I get it. Now to know that YouTube gets it, too…well…isn’t that just awesome?