Facebook and YouTube bots are issuing copyright takedowns of public domain classical music

Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post:

When the covid-19 crisis abruptly canceled its season, Spence launched a weekly series of rebroadcasts to fill the silence. These broadcasts, even with their modest virtual attendance of 100 or so viewers per stream, have been essential to keeping Spence’s Santa Barbara-based chamber organization engaged with its audience.

That is, until that recent Sunday, when his audience started to disappear, one by one, all the way down to none.


Just minutes into the airing of the concert, Facebook issued Spence a notification that his video — an original performance of an hour-long piece composed by Mozart in 1786 — somehow contained one minute and 18 seconds of someone else’s work, in this case, “audio owned by Naxos of America.”

FaceBook and YouTube are issuing takedown notices for an artist’s own performances of public domain music.

The fault is in the bot technology used to scan online music and compare it to recorded work. This is an overreach by, in this case, Naxos Records, who are trying to protect their recordings of, say, Mozart, but using bots that can’t tell the difference between one of their records and Camerata Pacifica’s own recording of the same work.

And this is definitely overreach by Facebook and YouTube.