Soundcloud Copyright Fail (Updated 3/4/12)

On Feb­ru­ary 13th, 2012, I received this email from Sound­cloud, the site where I host my music :

Our auto­matic con­tent pro­tec­tion sys­tem has detected that your upload “Calvin Har­ris — You Used To Hold Me (Jeremy Blake Remix)” may con­tain con­tent that is copy­righted. As a result, we have paused the upload of your audio for the time being.”

I’m no stranger to these emails. I received one regard­ing my Lana Del Rey rework, and suc­cess­fully nav­i­gated Soundcloud’s infringe­ment dis­pute sys­tem to get that track rein­stated. The process is, at best, annoy­ing. The con­tent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem is com­pletely auto­mated and prone to misiden­ti­fy­ing tracks. There’s no com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the sta­tus of your dis­pute besides a page in your Account Set­tings that updates with whether or not your dis­pute was accepted (see below). As you can see, even this level of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is imper­fect, as my Lana Del Rey remix is still alive and kick­ing on their site despite a mes­sage to the con­trary. It mag­i­cally popped back into exis­tence a few hours after I sent in the infringe­ment dispute.

Here’s where things get really dumb. The Calvin Har­ris track in ques­tion is made up of two things :

  • 100% orig­i­nal music, made by me, using mostly hard­ware syn­the­siz­ers (Korg Elec­tribe and Access Virus A). No sam­ples to cause infringement.
  • The vocal track, an acapella I down­loaded from… wait for it… Calvin Harris’s offi­cial Sound­cloud page.

That’s right. You can have it too, if you want. It’s still up on his page, along with a few other vocal acapel­las he’s made freely avail­able. Cur­rently it sits at about 10,000 down­loads. A quick search on Sound­cloud turns up pages and pages of remixes using this vocal track.

Let me spell this out one more time so the idiocy of the whole thing can sink in : Soundcloud’s Con­tent Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem tagged for copy­right infringe­ment a track whose only sam­pled mate­r­ial was an acapella hosted by the orig­i­nal artist on Sound­cloud. A sam­ple which is being given away freely by the artist, with­out restric­tion, and has over 10,000 down­loads. It’s also fea­tured promi­nently in dozens of tracks on Sound­cloud. They then deny my dis­pute, leav­ing me with no recourse but to suck it up and host the track else­where. I lose my stats, all the plays it had amassed, any com­ments and favorites. All this from a ser­vice I pay for.

I sub­mit­ted a dis­pute the same day as reciev­ing the notice. I hope to be able to update this post soon with news that my track has been rein­stated. Until then, I’ll be look­ing into alter­na­tives to Sound­cloud. Any suggestions?


Update 3/4/12 : Fur­ther cor­re­spon­dence with Sound­cloud has made clear they have no con­trol over the Con­tent Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process or the dis­pute process. I have can­celed my Sound­cloud pre­mium account and the com­pany issued a refund.