Does any company deserve the right to profit off of works in the public domain by stomping on another’s rights? No, but that doesn’t stop Rumblefish, a music distributor from doing it.
Earlier this year Rumblefish made headlines by using Youtube’s Content ID system to take down a video of a man talking with birds singing in the background. There was no music anywhere in the music, but just like that they slapped their ads on it without a second thought.
The even more insane part is that when an employee of Rumblefish “reviewed” the claim, they confirmed their claim that they owned it. And this is not the first case of Rumblefish robbing Youtubers blind. Hundreds to thousands of people including several Youtube partners who make money from ads on their videos and who could lose $100s from a few days of lost revenue have reported false claims.
Where do these claims come from? When a client uploads their music to Rumblefish for protection, Rumblefish loads it into Youtube’s automated Content ID system without any review. These songs are used as footprints that are compared against ever video on Youtube, and recognized audio is monetized automatically for the content owner. So since it’s automated, it’s not Rumblefish’s fault right? Wrong. The reason most of these false matches occur is that Rumblefish doesn’t monitor the content uploaded before it is monetized. Musicians often use royalty free loops such as the ones provided in Apple’s ilife for their songs, and Youtubers use them as well. They both have the right to use them and profit off of them, but since the loops are in the footprint uploaded, the content is identified as stolen and Rumblefish is given monetization.
Rumblefish is scamming much of Youtube and abusing a system that was meant to prevent losses from fraud and not kill creativity. Rumblefish needs to adjust their system so that music that has these loops that can cause confusion are not misidentified, or they need to get off of Content ID. I attempted to contact a representative from Rumblefish several times about this story but received no response. Rumblefish has officially made it onto our wall of shame (we actually have one). I also left the bird video that Rumblefish “owns” below for your enjoyment. 😀
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Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press.
Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.