25 October 2012

Open Letter To YouTube

Dear YouTube,

Earlier this year, in April to be exact, my five year old daughter Lola danced her very first ballet recital. It was too cute for words and naturally we, the proud parents, wanted to share this moment with friends and family. In our case they live spread out over the world and the easiest way to share a video is by broadcasting ourselves via YouTube.

I uploaded the footage I had made of Lola’s ballet and tap dance recital. Almost immediately I was hit with a copyright notice. In August you made good on your word and the two videos were blocked in select countries around the world. That turned out to be a bit of a euphemism because only if you lived on Guernsey, Jersey, Samoa or some other exotic island, were you able to watch either video.

Naturally I disputed both claims because a) we are talking about a bunch of non-commercial four and five-year-olds dancing on a carpeted stage for friends and family, and b) my daughter’s dance teacher pays a hefty monthly royalties bill to compensate the artists and the music companies that own the rights to their work for the use of it.

The first claim was almost instantaneously dropped. The second one, for Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes,” was not. When I checked on the status the other day, I noticed that all but one music company had dropped the claim. The one remaining company was Orchard Music, a young and independent company from New York. They claim they own the rights to Franks Sinatra’s “High Hopes.” And because of that claim, the poor people of Germany were still deprived of the pleasure of watching my daughter and her friends dance.

Dear YouTube, the reason I am writing this public letter is because you are now owned by Google and no longer allow individuals to contact you directly. You see, there is something very wrong with the Orchard Music Group’s claim. They don’t actually own the rights to Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes.” They don’t own the rights to a lot of the songs and lyrics used in the YouTube videos they have laid claim to. I don’t know why they do this. They like to harass people, evidently (see here and here). But you, dear YouTube, have grown too big to care.

For the record; I am aware that the initial Content ID Match is an automated process. However, once I as a user disputed the claim, it was manually checked by the claimants. For the Orchard Music Group to reinstate their false claim was a conscious act. Fortunately I am not that easily intimidated. I contacted Orchard Music Group directly to point out there was no basis to their claim and they were really being quite ridiculous. And lo and behold, within ten minutes they lifted their claim. With a mere 43 hits, they must have realized there was no money to be made here.

Your methods are seriously flawed, YouTube, and companies like the Orchard Music Group are taking advantage of that. Please consider updating your tools. If you cannot, ask your parent company, Google, to help you with that. They are really quite good at this. If you won’t do it for me, then do it for the Germans. And grandparents everywhere. Herzlichen dank.

The Dutch Girl


  1. Fantastic letter and I trully hope that they get the message. Fortunately there are strong alternatives to youtube and I recommend to switch to using them anyway!

  2. Amen! Well done woman! We like the sound of your roar!


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