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On Facebook and YouTube, classical musicians are getting blocked or muted (www.washingtonpost.com)
266 points by pulisse 12 days ago | hide | past | web | 127 comments | favorite





Since the start of quarantine I've been live-streaming Catholic Masses where the choir and schola take pride in their ability to sing polyphony and chant which you typically never hear these days and which has always been in the public domain. However, because commercial recordings exist of these works, every single Sunday I've got to file protests against the copyright notices, pointing out that these are live, original performances of works that were in the public domain for over 200 years (over 1500 in some cases). No matter, if a recording of this music exists then CLEARLY no human could have possibly duplicated, in the year 2020, a melody and text that was already ancient a millennium ago.

I realize this is machine learning and music sampling but I'm a tad surprised that the dataset cannot include a field such as "this recording is of public domain music"... and after a YouTube channel has to keep saying "No, I'm not playing someone else's CDs, we have a choir singing these live -- can't you hear the imperfections and that the soprano missed that eighth?" I suspect that at some point the channel will be cancelled because its too much of a copyright hazard.


> I'm a tad surprised that the dataset cannot include a field such as "this recording is of public domain music"

If there's not a financial incentive to prevent situations like this, the likelihood that YouTube will correct it is approximately nil.

The sad truth is that the parties controlling the recordings that YouTube's algos erroneously protect are probably worth more to them financially than some church that broadcasts these performances.


This is an excellent, albeit seemingly unintentional, critique of capitalism. In a nutshell, if it doesn't make money, it's probably not happening.

I don't know why parent's comments were downvoted, but this captures the same sentiment that is often reiterated frequently, "the market will correct/adapt" or "market forces will adjust" and so on.

Oh, I get why I was downvoted. You can't criticize capitalism on HN and expect to get upvoted. For instance, take a look at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23232811 . That comment is at -2.

Definitely didn’t help that your comment sounded negative and angry

The copyright system is a little independent of capitalism - without it, the copyright holders wouldn't have any capital. It creates itself.

It isn't an unreasonable critique but there are schools of capitalism that do not like the copyright system. That isn't an inherent part of capitalism. Peak capitalism tends to ignore copyright (eg, Silicon Valley in the early glory years, or the market for movies once BitTorrent was developed).


That's exactly why I didn't reference copyright in my comment, even though the article itself centered around it. The word "probably" was carefully chosen as well. There are definitely things that people do that don't make money, but few of them ever reach any significant scale. The major exception I can think of these days is the Linux kernel, which famously was a "just for fun" project. Another is the GNU project, which basically exists to advance some philosophical principles.

But, to a first approximation, in a capitalist system, if $THING doesn't make money, $THING isn't going to get done at any scale which matters. There are exceptions when philosophical principles and inherent human desires (such as curiosity and artistic expression) are involved. The corollary here, in true "the market adapts" fashion, is that if $THING is done and an entity with sufficient money dislikes $THING enough, then $THING will no longer be happening. I'm not sure whether the initial statement, or the corollary is fundamentally more distasteful.


Strange comment on a free forum (HN), with multi-industry fame.

Are you trying to argue that HN doesn't make money? Because, I'm sure Paul Graham might have something to say about that. The forum itself might literally be free to users, but the marketing value to YC is priceless.

How is the fact that this forum is free to post on relevant to the argument? The vast majority of sites that support comments (including YouTube) are free to post on.

That's pretty bad and another reason I can't stand artificial scarcity. I think information itself should be free. There are other ways to make money off of it. It's trivial to transfer TBs of data. Any laws and rules you come up with are completely arbitrary. Companies transfer mass amounts of user data continually. But when people share data companies "own" its all of the sudden illegal. Libraries could not be "invented" in today's society unless they only contained user data and only could be visited by corporate interests.

The good news is that the means to roll your own system are within reach.

Maybe YouTube just has to commit copyright seppuku to achieve enlightenment.


It's not really Youtube's fault though. The copyright system in the USA is absolute garbage and stifles creativity and innovation.

It's absolutely Youtube's fault. Nothing in the existing body of law requires them to proactively block copyrighted material from their platform. They only have to act on DMCA takedown notices in the required timeframe.

Their automation obsession has resulted in a firehose of erroneous takedowns that 100% aren't required by law, and they deserve all the ridicule and damage to their business that comes with that.


It's not just YouTube that's automation obsessed. The groups filing the DMCA takedowns are also automatically scanning and flagging content on YouTube.

The vast majority of content YouTube removes is not due to DMCA requests. It's pretty dumb to file DMCA requests with YouTube, because their manual claim process is easier to do and operates outside of the legal framework of the DMCA.

If YouTube actually followed the law instead of making up their own bullshit system those people could be sued for damages in court for filing false take down notices!

> Nothing in the existing body of law requires them to proactively block copyrighted material from their platform

The fight doesn’t have to take place in the realm of law. At best copyright holders would have sued youtube into oblivion if they didn’t do proactive takedowns. At worst, well considering that Comcast owns both tons of copyrighted property (through Universal Studios) and major telecommunication infrastructure, I can’t imagine how dirty they can play if they had to.


I think the latter scenario is why Google was so willing to go out of their way to appease the entrenched media conglomerates with their extrajudicial copyright enforcement. They want to get into licensing deals with the media oligopoly, and to do that they had to play ball by going above and far beyond the DMCA.

Does Naxos pay Youtube for these takedowns?

(not addressing the original problem "false copyright notices", but) what about streaming to Twitch? Admittedly, they are mainly doing game streaming, so probably unknown to your intended audience, but they'd probably simply click on a link in your announcement, anyway.

I didn't find out whether they consider religious content as controversial or otherwise unwanted on their platform, but from the overall view, it looks fine.


Consider publishing your work on PeerTube.

That supports live streaming? The “live” aspect is the reason we’re doing this at all since The State has been issuing “Thou Shalt Not Go To Church” orders for over a month.

There are plenty of options for streaming that don't have trigger-happy copyright detection algorithms because they don't host static videos. Worst case, I've heard of people throwing together their own P2P video chat web app using WebRTC in just a few hours.

Are there tools to publish to both at the same time

Would you mind linking to your live-stream recordings? I love listening to choral chants and whatnot. Very soothing.

That's both unfortunate and infuriating.

Are there other hosting options? Vimeo, one of the podcasting "networks", or even a terrestrial radio station which has online archives?


Use DTube, spread the gospel and the gospel my brother.

Could you share the channel with us?

Pretty much every live-stream listed on https://www.LatinMass.live

The idea is: Google doesn't want to get sued, Google needs to make money, Google is a middle-man extracting ad dollars from eyeballs, and paying royalties to living, litigious content owners.

So they will push music attached to dollars, according to the strictest legal terms of the loudest, most punishing complaints. Everything else is ignored, and thus sinks, or gets shoved off the top of the index by greed beasts that ignore courtesy, decency and rules.

Obnoxious greed beasts are sociopathic, and will game every tool Google arms them with. They want to be ranked highest for all keywords, as cheaply as possible.

So, how does one invert this payola scheme, as an eyeball used to justify advertising profits?

You have to tear the greed beasts limb from limb.

It may not be obvious, but the people that are filing spurious claims against you, are not good faith actors. They are the sock puppets of people who stand to make money from the keywords you stand to outshine all others on. You are likely crowding out low quality losers, who unfortunately have enough money to buy off-shore social media fleshbots that protest for them in surrogate.


> "No, I'm not playing someone else's CDs, we have a choir singing these live -- can't you hear the imperfections and that the soprano missed that eighth?"

That's precisely the issue. It is technologically impossible to solve the problem by analyzing the audio.

1. Two different performances could be audibly indistinguishable.

2. An infringing copy isn't necessarily indistinguishable. Often they have their own imperfections.


One thing I do not understand in law is that there is no proportionality (except in some cases in Nordic countries).

If 100B€ company is against me then all of us should expect a painful fine if we loose. For me that will be 10k€,for them 1B€ (or whatever).

They can afford to send lawyers whose job is to just do that: go to court. I have to take a day off.

If the fine is 10k it is insignificant to them and they can assume they will lose and this is no big deal. For me it is.

This unequality between a normal person and a company is painful. I belive that if companies were possibly in trouble when they loose then they would make more efforts to provide a good service (also out of court arrangements should be forbidden to force them to face the music)


The problem with this is that large corporations will just get a nominally smaller entity to do their dirty work.

They already do this to get away with things like Hollywood accounting. There is a tiny little nominally independent corporation that owns the rights to a thing and is then completely unprofitable because whatever money it makes goes right back out as costs to whoever it is really making the profits.

So then you go to court with a "small business" with "less than ten employees" which qualifies for all the exemptions to whatever costs you're trying to pin onto major companies. This may in fact even make the problem worse, because very small entities they can shoehorn their legal troubles into may pay lower penalties than the current average.

The actual solution is to impose penalties that serve as a deterrent on everyone. Because why shouldn't a two person company that sends out millions of fraudulent takedowns end up with a billion dollar fine? The fine is proportional to the damage you do, not how much money you have. Otherwise what's to stop very small entities from causing rampant destruction and then getting a $25 fine?


You should have the penalties climb up the chain to the topmost parent. Each entity should be fined proportional to annual revenue (not profit).

The same proportion should apply to individuals and their incomes as to companies.

Problem solved.


> Problem solved.

Not even close.

There is no requirement for the company doing the dirty work to be a subsidiary. It can be "owned" by any random person drawing a lower middle class salary, because the entire premise is that that entity doesn't actually make any money. It does what you want because otherwise you don't do business with it, not because it's a subsidiary.


That's tricky. LLCs exist for a reason and the wealthy have have better means of obscuring ownership/control, so a simple take would only get the small businesses and their owners, possibly shareholders.

Nevertheless, I do agree more should and could be done, especially for fines and penalties (less so for debts and obligations). It shouldn't be hard to prove those are shell companies, or fragments of a joint adventure.


This is only tangentially related but I wonder if it would be possible to create a system where both sides have the same resources. I'm imagining everyone has to put any money they want to spend on the case into a pot and then each side gets half. There are obviously loads of problems with this approach but I wonder if they're solvable

It could be interesting to make things based on percentages rather than hard numbers. Like loser has to pay 15% of net worth or something like that. Doesn't really even the playing field but it at least makes the stakes the same for both sides.

The impracticality of turning to the courts is what drives a lot of the thirst for government regulation — legislative relief is the only hope for these classical musicians.

What good are the courts if the law is on your side but justice is inaccessible?


They work better in loser pays systems. A legitimate complaint can't be shut down with escalating costs.

A legitimate complaint absolutely can be shut down because there is no guarantee that you will win even if you are in the right.

The risk management calculation is completely different if you are an individual of limited means who cannot afford to lose as opposed to a deep-pocketed entity that can absorb the worst-case costs.


Doesn't that make it a lot worse if you as an average Joe do lose against a team of well payed lawyers?

Not really, the fees are more o less standard, and if one of the parties decide to go with ten lawyers, the loser pays only the fees published by the legal system, at least where I live.

Regulation is also useless if it is not enforced.

You are even describing a big corp vs top 5%. Less privileged people might end up losing their job to go to court.

The law, especially in civil cases, isn't there to punish losers. It's there to fix harms done. If you win, you get paid an approximation of your harm.

Class actions exist to solve the collective action problem of the harm not being large enough for a single person to pursue.


If your conception of law was true I could do the following:

Steal stuff all the time. Sometimes I would get catched for whatever I was stealing. Proudly I will face all of the consequences: I just give back what I was stealing. All harm done is fixed. I keep all the other stuff that I stole where I was not catched. Why should I stop with that enterprise? The law certainly doesn't stop me.

Isn't that law way too gameable?

I think a system like this would only "work" if you catch _everything_ unlawful. You basically need a totalitarian police state dystopia for this.

I think the law should incentivize right behaviour and disincentivize wrong behaviour. Not just to fix harms done.


If you'd read some of my below comments, you'd notice I addressed this scenario. Fines should be adjusted for the probability of getting caught.

Also, certain torts, like stealing, are considered criminal.


For me the law is to bring fairness. This includes the fact that if someone is disproportionately stronger than me, they should be ready to face the consequences.

In other words the court should not be only there to fix harm, but also to teach a lesson.


See, I get scared when people want to use the courts to "teach a lesson."

That's not what they're intended for. If all harms are efficiently deterred and compensated, it's only our base animal instincts that suggest there's something more that needs to happen. Civilisation, of which the legal system is a subset, is there precisely to tame our baser instincts.

Just to head off a foreseen objection: the correct amount of deterrence isn't to prevent a harm from ever happening (trivial, just bankrupt everyone who does any harm), but to provide a negative incentive on the perpetrator equal to the harm they will cause by doing some act. If the chances of someone being caught are low, then it's proper to multiply the eventual fine by the inverse of the probability, which creates the required incentive. If someone showed malice, then that's evidence that the incentives were insufficient, and a reason to increase the fine. But none of that, from a legal theory perspective, is to punish them or bring fairness - it's to create the appropriate economic incentives.

Read up on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficient_breach for an example of this kind of thinking.


> See, I get scared when people want to use the courts to "teach a lesson." That's not what they're intended for.

Punitive damages are a longstanding feature of civil law.


And if you'd read the rest of my comment, you'll notice two different rationales behind punitive damages that have nothing to do with teaching lessons. It's all about deterrence.

And maybe this is one of the best reasons why we need to reign in ridiculous copyright laws. First of all, by going back to reasonable terms. In today's world, that should be probably no more than the length of patent terms - about 20 years. (And patent terms should be much shorter, especially in categories where there are a lot of patent applications.) Also, platforms falsely pulling someone's non-infringing works on grounds of false copyright claims (even if provided by the "owner") should be liable for fraud-like (treble) damages. This will make sure nothing gets banished/silienced/deplatformed unless it is a well-proven copyright violation.

You're proposing creating an affirmative obligation on private parties to carry products or content they have no contractual obligation to. Why? What's the compelling reason we should allow YouTube to delete videos they don't like, but not allow them to delete videos that received a copyright complaint?

Personally I think the liability should be on the party submitting the complaint, not the platform. As long as the platform is permitted to reinstate the content after an appeal (which is what the DMCA counternotice safe harbor is about), that's enough. The DMCA framework works well [0], and I would like if it was extended to patents and trademark/counterfeit accusations as well.

[0] with the caveat that the standard for liability for false claims should be lowered, and they should be treated as per se antitrust violations.


That's particularly dangerous as the "lessons to be taught" are quite subjective and someday may skew towards behaviours that you may not like coming from a state, and eventually converge to self-serving and self-perpetuating "lessons". After all, it's already bad under the more restrictive standard of "reasonable damages"

> That's particularly dangerous as the "lessons to be taught" are quite subjective and someday may skew towards behaviours that you may not like coming from a state

Sorry what.. are you arguing against the concept of criminal law?


We're talking about civil law here.

> The law, especially in civil cases, isn't there to punish losers.

Nice theory, but in practice the process itself is often a punishment. Even winning a bogus case against you can come at great personal expense.


You're not wrong. I'm just responding to someone who's asking about theory, and I'm explaining why the courts work the way they do. They do have to balance the cost to the parties of litigation with the right of people to get justice. Note that if a case is deemed frivolous, costs can be awarded to the defendant, and some kinds of meritless cases can result in fee awards even if they aren't meritless (see e.g. anti-slapp.)

Having your legal fees covered is a good start, but it can't give you back time wasted, or take back the gray hairs. I think it's fairly safe to say that our system doesn't go far enough to protect individuals in legal battles with corporations, for whom the process is far less stressful.

What reform could you propose that solves this? The flip side is that anything you do to increase payouts also increases the number of suits brought, which is less efficient. Any policy regarding the legal system ends up hurting some group and creating some inefficiencies, and it's a matter of trying to make sure the incentives you create lead to more benefits than harm.

I've posted about this here before, but a lot of people who upload their own videos of classical music on youtube and get copyright-warned or copyright-striked are too spooked to file a counter-claim. If it was a bot that automatically filed the claim against you, there's a very good chance the claim will be automatically lifted if you counter-claim.

Yes, youtube will give you a big scary warning about how repeated violations could mean your account is shut down. Every time this happened I went ahead and submitted counter-claim anyway. On all but one occasion the copyright claim disappeared immediately. The one exception required a bit of escalation but I still wound up on top (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22488897 if you're curious).

I understand a good many people simply do not feel comfortable risking their youtube account being shut down from contested claims, but I suspect that for many the risk is a lot lower than they realize.


It's clearly a bot/AI doing the flagging. In another comment on this page I mentioned that I get copyright flags for Gregorian chant and polyphony which is not only 700+ years old but has ALWAYS been in the public domain -- but I get these notices on the YouTube videos within about 90 seconds of completing a live-stream of the Sung Catholic Masses in which the music was performed. Nobody at YouTube is watching this in real-time and saying "Yeah, such-and-such Renaissance Revival Group cut a CD 12 years ago with this music: I suspect your of copyright shenanigans." This stuff is all automated and the default is to "You're a violator!" because not doing so would be to open YouTube up to the liability of knowing they might have copyrighted material on their platform and they did nothing about it.

You've described a system which defaults to injustice and is statistically guaranteed to produce an unjust aggregate result. That a handful of individuals can work around it is immaterial.

Right. That's the essence of the essence of copyright law. And the (mostly unjust) claims of the collecting societies and their henchmen are enforced with the methods of protection racketing, because hardly any of the victims will ever defend themselves in court. The same game as with the patent trolls, simply less known.

Not so much the law, but how it has been crafted to apply online, and the sheer amount of malicious compliance by Google et al.

And that’s in peacetime. Imagine how effective a censorship machine it will become during a larger emergency (a bigger/more dangerous pandemic, or war, or other national security event) when the host (Google in this case) is not given the legal option to allow appeals/reversals.

Sure, you can sue. Maybe even get your account back, months later... if you survive the emergency without communications of any kind.

Censorship-possible communications systems are an existential threat to a free society even if they are not used to censor 99.99% of the time. The fact that they can be wielded arbitrarily against people, outside of the law, or only with slow and expensive recourse (that fail deadly in the interim) should never be forgotten, especially during the times that they aren’t and everything seems fine and normal.

Do not use censorship/surveillance platforms, even if you are not being censored.


agreed 100%

> Hammons [of Naxos] says that most claims contested by Facebook and YouTube users are cleared within a week of dispute, and that arrangements can be made for channel owners who are able to prove “the legitimacy of their status as a performing arts entity, [or] that their channel constitutes a low risk for abuse of the privilege.”

The "privilege" of being able to play your own original works on your own channel - generously granted by a random company that has no business relationship to you whatsoever...


Who is making those "arrangements"? Naxos? Or Facebook/YouTube?

Because I haven't heard of Facebook/YouTube doing so, though I'd love to know if they do.

And if it's Naxos, well that doesn't exactly solve the problem does it? Because the claim against your recording might be Naxos one day, but another label next week, and yet another label the week after that. Naxos is a big label, but it certainly doesn't have even the majority of classical music or anything.


Youtube doesn't care whether they actually have the rights or not, that's for the courts to decide. You can submit copyright claims on whatever on Youtube, they don't traverse the complex web of agreements and assignments to see if you actually hold copyright to the thing you're claiming.

I got a takedown notice on YouTube for posting a chamber music recording of me and 3 friends playing a piece written in 1715. Insane.

We need to work on AI that can evaluate the musical talent in a recording. I mean yes, I was playing the same song as some famous musician, but anyone could tell I am an amateur and my recording was not professional.


We need to work on AI that can evaluate the musical talent in a recording. I mean yes, I was playing the same song as some famous musician, but anyone could tell I am an amateur and my recording was not professional.

Years of reading the arguments on HN (and other forums and aggregators before that) have convinced me that technology will not provide the answers to this problem. We need better laws from governments, and better policies from corporations.


How about every copyright claim has to be submitted in a handwritten letter with a picture of you holding that days newspaper. Then put the photo and handwritten note in an envelope and mail it in.

Better (and simpler), there needs to be a fine or other punishment for fraudulent copyright claims. Even better if that fine can be proportional to income of the claimant.

Or the fine is that the work in question becomes public domain.

These YouTube takedowns are typically not copyright claims. The DMCA process does have more rigor. YouTube has a voluntary process that doesn’t require any of that rigor.

YouTube’s company policy is essentially “ask us and we’ll take it down”, and has nothing to do with what the law requires.


> “Though the technology works most of the time in terms of correctly identifying instances of our clients’ content on-platform, it still generates a not-insignificant amount of mismatches that require human review to differentiate,” Hammons says. “The chances of conflicts with this amount of content are considerable. For these reasons there is always a volume of potentially erroneous auto-generated claims that unless contested, I may never be made explicitly aware.”

---

This is exactly the problem. It's obvious that there is a "not-insignificant" amount of cases where the there isn't extremely high confidence in the automated model.

Instead of these cases defaulting to claims, it should default to human review.


Then this blatant nonsense with these collecting societies strikes back at those who have benefited from it for many years. When you do a concert you don't just have to pay for the composition and arrangement and such, you also have to pay for the secondary exploitation rights (i.e. the performing musicians), and if someone sings, you also have to satisfy the collecting society responsible for the lyrics. And if you want to make live recordings of the concert accessible to people (even for free) it gets even more complicated. And ironically, the musicians and composers get the least from this horrendous machinery. The musicians who can secure a decent income from the collecting societies' revenues can be counted on one hand. For most of us, it is just enough for a part of the travel expenses.

The people who still dare to perform a classical concert somewhere in the hinterland are immediately punished and exempted by these collecting societies. In the age of the Internet, this is now even automatic. No wonder that there are fewer and fewer places that perform.

So today the shot is well and truly fired in the wrong diretion when composers and musicians assign their rights to such a society. Where there is hardly any market anyway, the promoters are penalised even more, although composers and musicians should be rather glad that someone is still listening to them.

I, for my part, am not affiliated with any such society anymore and have all my fellow musicians sign agreements whereby I pay them directly and no further claims of such societies are permissible.


See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_collective.

Ironically, a musician working as a clerc for a collecting society earns at least an order of magnitude more than what the median musician can expect as annual royalties from the collecting society.


Why can't it work something like this:

* As a YouTube channel owner you have the option of officially registering your channel with verified contact information.

* A video you have uploaded gets flagged by a bot.

* YouTube mutes the content and immediately texts you an alert.

* If you have opted to officially register with YouTube, you are given the ability to text back a countermand to the alert.

* If you countermand the copyright violation flag, your video is immediately unmuted, and the copyright holder receives instructions that if it still believes the content is an IP violation, commencing legal proceedings are the next option.

* If and only if the copyright holder affirms to Google that it will follow through with legal proceedings, it is given your contact information.


Because Google has a financial interest in keeping these malicious "rights holders" happy and profits from the stealing of profits from YouTube creators. Until it becomes illegal, or YouTubers organize, Google will continue to steal from creators.

If there's no penalty for false-positives on content ID this is only going to get worse.

If YouTube charged these companies for their false claims, then we would see a very quick end to the BS flagging.

I've had Sony block my own amateur recordings of me sitting in my living room playing Schubert on my own piano.

These companies should face criminal charges for this extortion. It's disgusting and outrageous.


Yet another (non-political, this time) reason why the law needs to be changed. I’ve sent a note asking my district representative to support reform, and would encourage everyone to do the same:

> In Green v. AOL (2003), the court established:

> There is no real dispute that Green's fundamental tort claim is that AOL was negligent in promulgating harmful content and in failing to address certain harmful content on its network. Green thus attempts to hold AOL liable for decisions relating to the monitoring, screening, and deletion of content from its network — actions quintessentially related to a publisher's role. Section 230 "specifically proscribes liability" in such circumstances. Zeran, 129 F.3d at 332-33.

> There is immediately a question why this "quintessential relation" only works in one direction, i.e. why even when "monitoring, screening, and [deleting content]", a provider should not be considered a publisher, and thus ineligible for immunity under Section 230. The courts may not agree with that argument, but I would say that it highlights a serious deficiency, and the law needs to be changed in a similar manner as Josh Hawley's bill: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/191...

> In fact I would argue that his bill does not go far enough. Getting an FTC rubber-stamp certifying "no political bias" seems like a vague and squishy system that will be easy to game. Perhaps the law should state that any provider above a certain size which takes action to "monitor, screen, or delete content" that is not illegal, and does not respond to an appropriate claim by reversing this decision, should forfeit immunity under Section 230. This would be very controversial, because it effectively bans e.g. YouTube from having their own "code of conduct" independent of US law. But I think that is exactly what needs to happen - YouTube is far too big for a "community standard" to make sense, and any attempt to do this will be abused for censorship. These companies should be forced to engage with all of us in the making of laws about free speech, they should not effectively be able to declare what free speech is by fiat.


This happened to a friend of mine recently, who didn't care to fight it, so we all lost.

The part that I don't understand is: Shazam is really bad at classical music. Unless it's the exact recording of the piece as their database, it seems, Shazam won't recognize it at all. And a little noise or static is enough to throw it off.

How is it that FB/YT content detectors are so far ahead of the game that they can detect old music in completely new recordings? Or, alternatively, why can't FB/GOOG slap a simple UI on their services and make an app like Shazam for users but 50 times better?

We've got the worst of both worlds right now: bad detection of music when we want it, and overzealous matching of new recordings when we don't.


Is Youtube really better at identifying the music? For one video my father posted we got a complaint that some company owned the song for the part where my sister was playing the piano and singing. It offered the option of muting it or allowing ads with the money going to the company. What it didn't say was what song specifically it thought the video had. So though they offered the option to contest it there was no way for us to do that without this information. The lyrics were something my sister had written herself, so it was very likely that it was a false match. It obviously had a recording of what they thought matched or it couldn't have made the comparison. But without allowing me access to that recording there is no way to know if their algorithm is any good.

+1 this

I don't think a lot of people know how truly bad Shazam is at classical music. Stuff that should be very obvious (NPR Live From Here, for example) routinely gets misidentified for me.


I can regularly trick apps like Shazam by playing classical pieces on a Yamaha digital keyboard with only the built-in speakers being used. Its almost deterministic. I can get Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata to detect as one of several published recordings almost 100% of the time.

I feel classical music is especially tricky from a ML modeling perspective. How many unique recordings are there of Pachelbel's Canon in D?

This is probably similar in difficulty to identifying a specific bird in a flock of thousands, and then looking at another discontinuous (in time) photo of the flock taken from a slightly different perspective and being able to recognize the same exact bird again.


I used to record myself playing classical music, then listen to it later to find my weak spots to focus my practicing.

I was flattered and annoyed when one of my recordings was taken down. I contested it, it was restored. This was SoundCloud though


This only thing unusual about this problem for classical music is the extremely large repertoire of public domain works.

The article vaguely implies that there is also an issue of miscalibration of the matching due to emphasising commercial pop-music but I've never seen any evidence of that and wouldn't expect it from how these systems work. In particular, I've found various contentid services to be effective at identifying classical music-- so clearly their database contain plenty of it. I expect that this claim is pure speculation on the part of the article's author.


I think the idea of miscalibration of matching isn't that the system can't ID classical, it's that the system doesn't know that classical should have different rules apply.

A lot of pop music "sounds the same" but the songs are actually different in meaningful ways note-wise. When you're dealing with classical music it's all the same notes! Just different people playing it.

So probably what's happening (some-how, some-way) is that the ID mechanism is trained to find songs that are "the same" and in pop music they're only "the same" if they're the _same song_. But in classical there are many songs that are different that are the _same song_ and so the model which was trained with one set of assumptions completely fails when a different set of assumptions are in play.

And because classical doesn't register in a big way to the people in charge this doesn't get fixed because it only takes the algorithm from 99.85% accurate to 99.72% accurate which as we all know, is meaningless!


> So probably what's happening (some-how, some-way) is that the ID mechanism is trained to find songs that are "the same" and in pop music they're only "the same" if they're the _same song_.

Right. Pop music has a lot of variation in timbre even between 'covers' of the same composition, so if the notes match and the overall timbre matches it's a safe bet that you're looking at two instances of the exact same recording, or at most two versions by the same performer. In classical that just isn't true, the timbre of acoustic instruments is basically fixed and the notes are defined by the original composition. There's just too little variation for an auto-id system to work with.


We probably need a PBS equivalent for streaming, as FB and Google and huge businesses alike will always put their financial goals and liabilities before the general public interest. This has worked well for Wikipedia, where money hasn't been, at least in most cases, able to permanently wipe unwanted information off of articles.

This doesn't mean there won't be copyright claims, but the burden should be on the copyright owner not the user. If this platform is a "public streaming system", then no ads are shown and the limits of infringement will be constrained by the lack of ads (ie "fair use"). Having no financial incentives for people to make money off of other people's work makes it all much simpler.

A "Wikitube" would have its many challenges, certainly, but resolution would lean on the side of the public interest, something that has been wildly forgotten in the digital age.


> Duncan Hammons, considers copyright protection “among our chief duties per our relationship with our distributed label clients.”

> “We’re at the mercy of automation in order to uphold our obligations to our clients,” Hammons says in an email. Like other record companies, Naxos relies on Facebook’s and YouTube’s content identification systems to track potential illegal use.

Naxos, please explain who is forcing you to use software/algorithms implemented by other companies, that you implied you know is harming the classical music industry/community? It's clear to me who is at Naxios' mercy, but it's not entirely clear to me whose mercy Naxios is saying they are at.


Anecdote: I got silenced by posting a performance of Fur Elise by Beethoven on Facebook and Instagram. Really weird.

Was it your performance?


The automation of the law ranks very highly among the worst things in modern society.

> A few Sundays ago, Camerata Pacifica artistic director Adrian Spence, aided by his tech-savvy son Keiran, went live on Facebook to broadcast a previously recorded performance of Mozart’s Trio in E flat (K. 498), a.k.a. the “Kegelstatt” trio.

> an original performance of an hour-long piece composed by Mozart in 1786

I'm surprised the bot recognized the piece when it was apparently played at about half speed. :)


The fact that you can copyright a rendition of something that itself was created hundreds of years ago is appalling and shortsighted.

Why not make it so that you just can't own copyright on versions of Public domain music.

Makes life a hell of a lot easier the ai recognised this is public domain and so no one can make a claim on it.


The music or the performance of the music? Eliminating performance copyright would be a big deal.

Who owns performance rights? The person recording? If many people record the same thing who gets the copyright?

I'm not a lawyer, but I believe it's the performer.

Each performer currently gets copyright over their own performance



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