The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Mat Tanner is a musician. He has already self-financed, self-recorded and self-released one album and is in the process of doing the same with a second. Last week, however, he incurred the wrath of Universal Music Publishing Group.  What could a Manchester based singer-songwriter have done to offend one of the world’s largest publishing groups? 
Well, sometimes, when playing live, he likes to play an acoustic interpretation of 'Power of Love' by Huey Lewis and the News, 'Boy in the Bubble' by Paul Simon, and 'Kiss' by Prince. Not all three songs, but rather a self-devised medley.  It’s an interesting number, and one of his fans enjoyed it enough to record it on their mobile phone and email it to his website, along with a number of performances of his own songs from the same night.
Impressed, and wanting to share the video with fans such as myself, Mat uploaded the video to YouTube last year. Since then it has received over 500 view and numerous comments, almost all positive. It is worth noting at this stage that two other videos of Mat from the same night had over 1600 views between them, therefore, people weren’t just searching for Prince say, and finding Mat.  However, Universal obviously feels very differently and so last week Mat received the following email:
“Dear Mr. Tanner,

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Universal Music Publishing Group claiming that this material is infringing:

Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube's copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.”

As far as I’m aware Mat has made no money from this video. It’s not a song he plays live all that often and so doesn’t trade on the back of it. He is simply a musician making his own music who happens to play a cover version to vary his set every now and again.  Where is the crime?  Surely, there is more chance of someone going out and buying a Huey Lewis/Prince/Paul Simon record on the back of being reminded of it than there is of any of the above losing out?  And what of the thousands of cover bands who make a living playing other peoples music in almost every pub in the UK and Ireland every night of the week? 

Taking action against a musician for playing music doesn't help music; it only threatens it. 

What next, copyright infringement for learning to play the guitar?  Oh wait!

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