PSA: Universal Music Group Has Copyrighted The Moon. That is All.

from the universal-indeed dept

We have seen and covered a great many ridiculous copyright issues here at Techdirt. It is, after all, sort of our thing. Still, some attempts at enforcing copyrights are so ludicrous that they take your breath away. Now, granted, often times the most egregious of these stories arise out of the use of automated bot systems that troll all the places for copyright infringement and often times get it completely wrong. But that isn’t so much an excuse for those situations as it is a spotlight on how brutally terrible the current iteration of copyright enforcement has become and how despicable it is that the wider copyright industries just shrug their shoulders at all the collateral damage they cause.

And then there’s the moon. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “The moon? Is Timothy having another stroke while writing a post?” First off, my personal health is none of your concern. And secondly, nope, because a video recording of the moon as seen from Greece, which included no audio, was blocked all over the place due to a copyright claim made by Universal Music Group.

British filmmaker Philip Bloom recently filmed the Moon during sunset Skiathos in Greece. After sharing it on social media, he was surprised when the video was blocked due to a claim by Universal Music Group, which claimed copyright to the generic shots of the Moon. Here’s the audio-less video that Bloom shared to his personal Facebook account while on his holiday:

Yup, that’s it. So, how did this get flagged for copyright by UMG? Well, according to the block notification, UMG says the video contains “30 seconds of video owned by UMG”. How? Well, who the hell knows. If I had to guess, I would speculate that there is some music video out there or something that also contains footage of the moon and that somehow has resulted in an automated system flagging this video of the moon as copyrighted content.

But, just so everyone is clear, UMG does not actually own footage of our nearest celestial neighbor. The person who filmed the footage, filmmaker Philip Bloom, is understandably not pleased.

“I uploaded some shots of the moon to Facebook late last year shot with the Canon R5 but it was a 2/3rds moon,” Bloom tells PetaPixel. “It looks like their AI is looking for full moon shots.”

Bloom then filed a dispute against the copyright infringement block, explaining to Facebook: “It’s a shot of the moon I personally filmed tonight!!! UMG doesn’t own the moon!”

But because, again, the way copyrights are enforced currently is a goddamned nightmare, the footage is still offline for those social media channels in all those countries while Bloom is going through the appeals process. And it’s very much worth considering that this isn’t an isolated case, either.

Bloom says that after he shared about what happened on social media, one of his followers shared that the exact same thing happened to them.

And so here we are. During the appeals process for Facebook at least, it appears that the assumed state of things is such that UMG owns the copyright on footage of the moon. If the fact that the setup of the DMCA and our enforcement of it allows this result makes any sense at all to you, then perhaps you’d be better off living on UMG’s moon.

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Companies: facebook, umg, universal music group

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Comments on “PSA: Universal Music Group Has Copyrighted The Moon. That is All.”

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71 Comments
That Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re:

But having a copyright means you never have to pay anything to protect it or face any issues when you’re wrong.
The burden is on the public who maybe someday in 300 years might FINALLY have things fall into the shared culture of people long dead that the estates of long dead creators will be arguing harm the dead by even mentioning the characters.

Samuel Abramsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The burden is on the public who maybe someday in 300 years might FINALLY have things fall into the shared culture of people long dead that the estates of long dead creators will be arguing harm the dead by even mentioning the characters.

Um, didn’t The Great Gatsby have its copyright expire on January 1 of this year?

Bobvioussays:

Re: Re: penalty for making bogus copyright claims

I’m surprised that no one has setup a bot to just continuously send takedowns against the MAFIAA, in retaliation for their bogus efforts.

In Other News, have a look at this BBC report about ‘ludicrous’ copyright claims, https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-48307374
In that is a discussion about Blurred Lines and also Marshmello and Bastille in dispute with One Republic.

Meanwhile, OneRepublic are tangentially involved in a dispute between Russia’s DJ Arty and dance producer Marshmello.

Arty says Marshmello and Bastille’s song Happier https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7Bc3pLyij0 ( at about 0:58) copied a synth riff from his remix of OneRepublic’s I Lived https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWuRA_JvCR8 ( at about 1:33), and is suing for damages.

"Arty wouldn’t sue somebody for the sake of it, because there’s too much to lose," says Tedder, citing the negative "exposure of suing Marshmello".

"But if you listen to both of the [songs], I think anybody with a decent measure of musicality will draw their own conclusion. I’ll leave it at that."

Well, I conclude that both riffs are derivatives or homages of Depeche Mode’s "I Just Can’t Get Enough", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6FBfAQ-NDE written at least 30 years prior to both, and about 600 remixes since then.

Ninjasays:

There was some noise a while back when some Japanese company patented Brazilian flora. "Ah, products based on Brazillian plants?" you ask. And I answer "No, they patented the goddamn plant. More than one time. I’m certain there must be some article from TD on this but I’m too lazy to search. Still… What the heck.

https://jus.com.br/artigos/37567/biopirataria-o-cupuacu
https://acervo.socioambiental.org/acervo/noticias/japoneses-registram-patente-da-acerola

Bobvioussays:

Re: Re: Incorrect Star Wars quote

Ah yes, The Copyright Empire Strikes Back. I mistakenly thought it was from Return of the Jury, although it could have been Attack of the Clowns, or The Phantom MAFIAA. Perhaps No Hope, or even The Rise of Lietalker, who is certainly a rogue one, but this wont be the Last Judgement.

fairusesays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Incorrect Star Wars quote

Rob Reid’s "Year Zero" (2012), Random House is a story about music industry’s copyright infringement campaign.

The aliens have been coping and playing Earth pop music without a license. Using what is known as Copyright Math accounting figured the galaxy owes Earth (music industry) royalties – Some number so big it cannot be paid. So, the aliens need Earth copyright lawyer. Off to Earth.. (This is a massively abridged description)

More at — https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120710/03053019638/excerpt-rob-reids-year-zero-plus-chance-to-win-book.shtml

The video is a hoot.

tpsays:

Copyrighting the moon was prefictable...

The author did one serious mistake with his moon shots. He fails miserably with substantial similarity test against other moon shots. That’s what you get when you clone someone else’s work.

Similar problems can come if two copyright owners are exploring the same maze. Even if they start from opposite ends of the same maze, their finished maze maps would fail substantial similarity test, simply because the underlying maze is common. Now we can see the feature with the moon… the subject of their recordings are the same, so they fail substantial similarity test.

Copyright law doesn’t really like sharing. Sharing the moon is clearly forbidden by copyright laws. Copyright owners that work independently is never going to encounter this problem, because the state space in videos are around 2^{800*600), which is plenty of freedom for copyright owners to choose their own approach, and they shouldn’t use material owned by other copyright owners.

Davidsays:

Re: Re: Copyrighting the moon was prefictable...

The problem is not substantial similarity to other moon shots: accidental similarity is a problem with patents, not so much with copyrights. The problem is that the shots are a blatant derivative of the moon copyrighted by planet Earth, with a copyright duration extending 70 years after the death of planet Earth (which incidentally makes it tricky to count those 70 years).

And did I mention the copyright on the illumination pattern yet? Simple but effective with cyclic changes.

tpsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Anyone else surprised that Tero Fuckface Pulkinnen is defending copyright overreach again?

Is anyone surprised that anonymous cowards are not actually reading the text I wrote, but instead just declares it copyright maximalist bullshit without actually reading it.

It’s always fun to take copyright minimalist position on some topic and be accused of spreading extreamist copyright maximalist propaganda.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Let’s go over what you wrote, then:

Now we can see the feature with the moon… the subject of their recordings are the same, so they fail substantial similarity test

Your claim is that because the moon photographed in multiple pictures is the same moon, therefore all those other moon pictures fail to qualify for protection against copyright infringement claims.

You subsequently argue:

Sharing the moon is clearly forbidden by copyright laws. Copyright owners that work independently is never going to encounter this problem, because the state space in videos are around 2^{800*600)

You believe that space is so vast, content creators can choose not to use the moon… even if their content features the moon.

We’ve thus established that you believe: only one content creator or company has the right to use moon photographs, and this is somehow not a copyright maximalist position.

Most of your content is copyright maximalist bullshit, fam. Own up to it. Because you sure as hell are terrible at lying about it.

tpsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

We’ve thus established that you believe: only one content creator or company has the right to use moon photographs, and this is somehow not a copyright maximalist position.

This isn’t true. The whole point of my "it fails substantial similarity test" is that the test is actually giving wrong answers. But legal eagles are staring at their tests too much, and anyone accused of distributing moon pictures will need to get past the automatic "we’ll use substantial similarity test to decide the matter" and get a judge to accept that their established copyright tests are not actually giving correct results in this case. Basically the only valid grounds for doing this is the "we’re building a maze map" -style issue where authors who work independently can still share some element of their copyrighted work. Once we’re identified the shared element to be the moon, it’s should be slam dunk style issue, i.e. judges can do the right thing.

But getting this far in the evaluation is significant issue for many accused moon infringers. First DMCA notices need to be followed, even though validity of the issues are questionable. Then once the accused infringer submits DMCA counternotice, and the issue lands to judges table, the paperwork should have correct information explaining that there’s no real reason to ban moon pictures simply because some copyright owner thinks they own the moon. But many accused infringers cannot produce accurate and good enough material that can overcome judge’s requirement to follow the established laws. Sharing the moon is clearly forbidden by copyright laws, and it requires significant deviation from established rules to get that sharing cleared.

Basically copyright laws are not designed to allow sharing, even if it regularly happens in situations where subject of the photograph is some entity (like moon) that is available to both authors, even if they (supposedly) are working independently on their own caves. Getting past hundreds of years of broken copyright law’s rules is not a easy feat.

This is basically copyright minimalist position, i.e. the copyright laws as written to law books are handling this situation wrong. And we’ve identified substantial similarity test as the broken part.

That One Guysays:

Re: Re: The reverse...

You can be damn sure that any copyright claims made against(rather than by) them would receive very different treatment, with platforms treating notices as ‘illegitimate until proven otherwise’ when aimed at them rather than the ‘legitimate until they agree that it’s not’ that notices they send are treated as.

Anonymoussays:

This is basically people at universal stealing money from their employers.

File fake claim – pay lawyers their demanded $16 million to run the claims.

Lawyer gives the authorizing Universal manager $8 million of that as a kickback.

Universal doesn’t really notice as is a multi-billion dollar company, but their management teams are stealing money as fast as they’re able using this simple scam.

tpsays:

Re: Re:

Anyone else surprised that Tero Fuckface Pulkinnen is defending copyright overreach again?

Is anyone surprised that anonymous cowards are not actually reading the text I wrote, but instead just declares it copyright maximalist bullshit without actually reading it.

It’s always fun to take copyright minimalist position on some topic and be accused of spreading extreamist copyright maximalist propaganda.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:

Let’s go over what you wrote, then:

Now we can see the feature with the moon… the subject of their recordings are the same, so they fail substantial similarity test

Your claim is that because the moon photographed in multiple pictures is the same moon, therefore all those other moon pictures fail to qualify for protection against copyright infringement claims.

You subsequently argue:

Sharing the moon is clearly forbidden by copyright laws. Copyright owners that work independently is never going to encounter this problem, because the state space in videos are around 2^{800*600)

You believe that space is so vast, content creators can choose not to use the moon… even if their content features the moon.

We’ve thus established that you believe: only one content creator or company has the right to use moon photographs, and this is somehow not a copyright maximalist position.

Most of your content is copyright maximalist bullshit, fam. Own up to it. Because you sure as hell are terrible at lying about it.

tpsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

We’ve thus established that you believe: only one content creator or company has the right to use moon photographs, and this is somehow not a copyright maximalist position.

This isn’t true. The whole point of my "it fails substantial similarity test" is that the test is actually giving wrong answers. But legal eagles are staring at their tests too much, and anyone accused of distributing moon pictures will need to get past the automatic "we’ll use substantial similarity test to decide the matter" and get a judge to accept that their established copyright tests are not actually giving correct results in this case. Basically the only valid grounds for doing this is the "we’re building a maze map" -style issue where authors who work independently can still share some element of their copyrighted work. Once we’re identified the shared element to be the moon, it’s should be slam dunk style issue, i.e. judges can do the right thing.

But getting this far in the evaluation is significant issue for many accused moon infringers. First DMCA notices need to be followed, even though validity of the issues are questionable. Then once the accused infringer submits DMCA counternotice, and the issue lands to judges table, the paperwork should have correct information explaining that there’s no real reason to ban moon pictures simply because some copyright owner thinks they own the moon. But many accused infringers cannot produce accurate and good enough material that can overcome judge’s requirement to follow the established laws. Sharing the moon is clearly forbidden by copyright laws, and it requires significant deviation from established rules to get that sharing cleared.

Basically copyright laws are not designed to allow sharing, even if it regularly happens in situations where subject of the photograph is some entity (like moon) that is available to both authors, even if they (supposedly) are working independently on their own caves. Getting past hundreds of years of broken copyright law’s rules is not a easy feat.

This is basically copyright minimalist position, i.e. the copyright laws as written to law books are handling this situation wrong. And we’ve identified substantial similarity test as the broken part.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

This isn’t true

You spent another thread arguing that anyone who makes a mermaid statue violates the rights of the Edvard Eriksen estate. Seriously, at this point, nobody believes your lies. Aside from copyright fans.

The whole point of my "it fails substantial similarity test" is that the test is actually giving wrong answers. But legal eagles are staring at their tests too much, and anyone accused of distributing moon pictures will need to get past the automatic "we’ll use substantial similarity test to decide the matter" and get a judge to accept that their established copyright tests are not actually giving correct results in this case.

Mate, if you’re going to bother using English to communicate, stop trying to obfuscate your "copyright law is the word of God" with a language you’re clearly not familiar with. Here, I’ll quote the words you spoke in your very first post on this thread:

"He fails miserably with substantial similarity test against other moon shots. That’s what you get when you clone someone else’s work."

You’re not scrutinizing the value or accuracy of some imaginary "test". Your first instinct was to accuse the other guy of "cloning" Universal Music Group’s non-existent moon photos.

Basically the only valid grounds for doing this is the "we’re building a maze map" -style issue where authors who work independently can still share some element of their copyrighted work

Don’t make me fucking laugh. Anyone who’s read this thread knows that you don’t believe that someone who creates their own map of a subway system should be allowed to actually do so, because independently generated maps somehow eat into subway system profits, which for some reason are the main source of subway revenue instead of subway rides.

First DMCA notices need to be followed, even though validity of the issues are questionable.

Your defense of the boy that cried wolf is duly noted, as well as the knowledge that if you ever received a DMCA notice for Meshpage you would not actually follow the notice and take down your project.

the paperwork should have correct information explaining that there’s no real reason to ban moon pictures simply because some copyright owner thinks they own the moon

Why does anyone need paperwork for this? If a random, non-police, non-government citizen tries to demand a toll on a public road I’m walking on it sure as fuck isn’t my responsibility to search for the paperwork that proves the road isn’t his. What you’re doing is encouraging legal harassment.

But many accused infringers cannot produce accurate and good enough material that can overcome judge’s requirement to follow the established laws

Back to the focus on legal wrangling again. If "accurate and good enough material" and "follow the established laws" were the be all and end all of copyright cases, many of your lawyers would have lost outright. Again, I should specify – Andrew Crossley, Evan Stone, Paul Hansmeier, Richard Liebowitz, and other copyright lawyers have attempted to enforce your definition of copyright law on others. They failed. Not only did they fail, several of them have faced severe legal punishments and penalties for doing so. This is another reason why your "stricter copyright law" standards are a fucking joke. Following those laws literally gets your people arrested.

Sharing the moon is clearly forbidden by copyright laws

Copyright law forbids sharing the photo someone else took, not an independent creation, which you’ve also regularly rubbished in the past unless it covered Meshpage.

This is basically copyright minimalist position, i.e. the copyright laws as written to law books are handling this situation wrong

I don’t hold a copyright minimalist position. What position I do hold is a belief that copyright law should be applied judiciously, minimizing false accusations and having fines and penalties that are in line with actual damages, not the dumbass $2 billion settlements that make you cum in your own pants. When any company can take a video of a moon and preemptively say nobody else can take photos or videos of the moon, that’s a scummy position to take. That’s a scummy position to agree with.

But I have to give it to you – your presence here regularly informs everyone on the absolutely fucked up mindsets that pro-copyright fans have. The more you contribute on this site, the more anyone reading up on "Tero Pulkinnen" can see that you support financially ruining innocent victims because you might get the RIAA to look in your general direction, and rubbish your bloatware for the malignant online tumor that it is.

tpsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

This is another reason why your "stricter copyright law" standards are a fucking joke. Following those laws literally gets your people arrested.

I think you haven’t really grasped what lawyers are actually doing in legal cases. They do not push their opinion on the law to the accused infringers. What they do is accurately document the legal position of the infringer. I.e. if infringer says "fuck you, middle finger to this direction", then the lawyer’s paperwork to the judge will have some section explaining the issue in language that the judge can understand. While the position isn’t very good, it’s not lawyer’s position, but his clients all have different position and legal professional is just trying to document it as accurately as possible. This is why accuracy and good material is always required when dealing with legal system.

The lawyers only get sanctioned, if they cannot properly communicate the client’s position in understandable manner, or if they miss the deadlines or fail to contact their client or some communication breakages are happening. So it isn’t the "stricter copyright position" that gets lawyers sanctioned, but instead their sloppy work. Some clients do have strict copyright position and the lawyer simply cannot change people’s opinions. Are you trying to brainwash RIAA into dropping their legal adventure to sue infringers? I’m sure that pattern wont work too far.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think you haven’t really grasped what lawyers are actually doing in legal cases. They do not push their opinion on the law to the accused infringers.

No, what they do is push their copyright clients’ opinion on the law. Which is your "stricter copyright law" standards. And that gets them in trouble with judges, because judges realize that your evidence is so terrible, it isn’t worth the toilet paper you wiped it on.

then the lawyer’s paperwork to the judge will have some section explaining the issue in language that the judge can understand. While the position isn’t very good, it’s not lawyer’s position, but his clients all have different position and legal professional is just trying to document it as accurately as possible

And the judge is beholden to rule on those mistaken beliefs and tell you and your lawyers that "stricter copyright laws" are horseshit.

This is why accuracy and good material is always required when dealing with legal system.

Your copyright lawyers regularly sue people based on shoddy IP address evidence that has been proven to be so thoroughly inaccurate, judges have been actively reminding your lawyers that IP address-based evidence is not sufficient to determine guilt. You guys wouldn’t know "accuracy and good material" if it impregnated you up the anus.

The lawyers only get sanctioned, if they cannot properly communicate the client’s position in understandable manner, or if they miss the deadlines or fail to contact their client or some communication breakages are happening

Yeah, funny that. Why is it that copyright enforcement can only get shitty lawyers whose entire gimmick is praying that judges overlook them breaking the rules?

So it isn’t the "stricter copyright position" that gets lawyers sanctioned, but instead their sloppy work.

What your copyright lawyers do is go to court and paint stories about how the livelihoods of copyright holders are collectively fucked if the judges don’t implement "stricter copyright positions". Your argument is a sad attempt at a "people don’t do people, guns do" distraction.

Some clients do have strict copyright position and the lawyer simply cannot change people’s opinions.

Not the judge’s problem. If a lawyer fails to convince his client to take up a reasonable position, the lawyer can always drop the client like a lead weight like Prenda Law’s first defense lawyer eventually did. If the lawyer chooses to double down like Daniel Voelker in claiming that Prenda did not deserve sanctions, he gets to be punished when the judge decides he fucked up.

Are you trying to brainwash RIAA into dropping their legal adventure to sue infringers?

I don’t need to "brainwash" the RIAA into anything because their pursuit of downloaders ended by the late 2000s. They realized it was a poor strategy for getting money out of users and it absolutely ruined their public relations, in particular because their accuracy for suing infringers was laughably low. Instead what they’ve done is try to push for stricter laws and have independent studios like Prenda Law and Elf-Man carry out those lawsuits instead… which haven’t been profitable either. Whether or not the RIAA chooses to completely abandon this train wreck of an enforcement strategy is not within my influence. They’ll eventually stop when they realize that they’re wasting money, or when they’ve run out of money to waste.

tpsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

They’ll eventually stop when they realize that they’re wasting money, or when they’ve run out of money to waste.

Good luck with this. Recent torrentfreak article had real numbers from some copyright owners, where some photos were licensed in the market with total of 800dollars, but the settlements bring in 120,000dollars… If RIAA’s numbers are anything like that, there’s no fucking chance that they stop harrassing pirates.

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