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.