YouTube User Loses Right to Make Money Off Static

Musician hit with multiple copyright infringement claims over 10 hours of white noise
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2018 2:34 PM CST

What should have been a soothing video has actually turned into a bit of a headache for a music technologist and professor from Australia, Gizmodo reports. Sebastian Tomczak created 10 hours of white noise—it sounds like your everyday static—and uploaded it to YouTube in 2015. "The video was created by generating a noise waveform of 10 hours length using the freeware software Audacity and the built-in noise generator," he explains to TorrentFreak. Essentially, Tomczak created his own static and put it on YouTube. Now, YouTube is claiming Tomczak's static is too similar to the static of other white noise publishers, violating their copyrights.

The BBC reports Tomczak has been hit with five copyright infringement claims generated by YouTube's automated system. And rather than have his video removed or account shut down, the companies behind the claims have elected to leave Tomczak's video up and simply commandeer any ad revenue it generates. Tomczak calls the claims "spurious" and says he "will be disputing" them. This isn't the first case of YouTube's automated copyright system perhaps running amok. In 2012, a YouTube user said the system filed a copyright claim against him based on birds singing in the background of one of his videos. Tomczak himself says he was hit with a claim on his own behalf after he let coworkers use his music in a video. (More YouTube stories.)

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