Guest Post by Mike Masnick on Techdirt
So, Vice's Motherboard has an amusing article about how the misleadingly named GuitarHeroFailure (misleading, because the guy's actually good at the game) tried to get around YouTube ContentID takedowns on one of his Guitar Hero videos (of Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark at the Moon") by singing an acapella version of the song over it. The overall effect is really quite amazing. Watch the video (and don't miss his, um, "variation" at the very end) below:
The guy claims, in a separate video that he wasn't really trying to comment on copyright law (he actually says "YouTube's copyright laws, " which, you know, aren't actually a thing). But, no matter what it is commenting on it. He notes that he was really proud of how well he did in that particular game, and was disappointed that it got taken down by YouTube.
But, even if he didn't mean for it to be a comment on copyright law, it absolutely is. But here's the craziest part. It's likely that his new video also violates copyright law. Because, remember, when it comes to music licensing in particular, copyright law is insane. There are multiple licenses that you need. There's one for the sound recording - and in this case, he doesn't have to deal with that one. But, if you're doing a cover song, you need a mechanical license for the composition of the song. And then, the fact that it's been put on a video raises a whole separate issue, which is the need for a totally different license called a synch license, for when you use a composition with a video.
Of course, YouTubers rarely (i.e., basically never) get such licenses at all, and it's mostly ignored by everyone. But that doesn't mean it will always be. And, again, that highlights the absolute insanity of music licensing these days. People are doing stuff that clearly is not taking away anything from the market for the original music, but because of the messy, patchwork setup of copyright laws and music licensing, it's almost impossible to be fully compliant no matter what you do.
And don't even get me started on the copyright questions raised by this other video in which someone took GuitarHeroFailure's acapella and synched it to the original Ozzy song. Because, really, there aren't enough hours in the day to analyze that mess...