Living In Fear Of Soundcloud’s Take-Down Robot


In April, we reported that SoundCloud’s new copyright infringement software was removing DJ mixes from various websites, including FACT’s.

Things appear to have got worse. London internet station Radar Radio has today had its entire account taken down, despite clocking up over 900,000 plays.

We spoke to Radar Radio, who told us that they were originally told that they had seven days to sort out any copyright infringements on their page, but the account was closed the next day.

Mystifyingly, on top of that DJ Plastician has had his account suspended over a track that he produced, released and owns the publishing rights to.

Behold, once again, the perils of automatic copyright-detection software combined with intense legal pressure from outside forces. There’s no real mystery why Radar Radio was penalized — I’m sure they were posting shows with content that triggered the detection software — but the DJ who claims to have ownership of every facet of the removed track seems to have been a victim of electronic misidentification. (Update: Another possibility I just considered is that his distributor may have claimed the copyright which triggered the take-down. It wouldn’t seem that a distributor would hold the necessary rights to be able to do this, but I do know — from experience — that INgrooves was causing some take-downs for a while. If that’s still happening or how common a practice this is among digital distribution entities is unknown to me.)

I was told that SoundCloud had a ‘three strikes’ rule, where an account would be terminated if this threshold of copyright infringement had been reached. This was worrisome for me as I have a lot of Q-Burns Abstract Message content on my SoundCloud account that have master rights ownership by various entities, though I am the songwriter and publisher. Legally the master holders do have the right to flag my content, but I am always able to work it out with them to keep these tracks live on my account. But every time SoundCloud updates this detection software (or new audio fingerprints are added en masse) then I’m confronted with a number of new take-downs to dispute. It’s annoying, but even more annoying is the fear of suddenly acquiring three take-downs at once for my own compositions, and then I’m going through the hassle of reinstating my terminated account.

One should not have to use a service — and pay for it, as I am — while being fearful that it could be taken from you for reasons outside of your control. Surely this can’t be the way forward.

I am pretty certain SoundCloud are sick about all this and wish it weren’t the case. Indeed, our friends at Universal, Sony, et al are to blame. And credit where credit is due — when I do have to deal with a take-down, SoundCloud are always reasonably swift to consider my dispute and have the track reinstated. As always, I remain interested, though not necessarily optimistic, in how the company works to resolve their own dispute with the major label bullies.

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