Lately, I’ve been posting videos on YouTube. Last night, one of them was muted because of a copyright violation. I think I’ve arrived…

I have sort of a fascination with YouTube. I love watching videos, especially of old TV commercials, PSAs, music videos, and television shows. Of course, most of those videos are uploaded without the proper authorization from copyright holders. It always amuses me when someone writes in the video description that they don’t own the copyright to whatever it is they’ve uploaded. As if the powers that be at some random media company or YouTube is going to care that you bothered to admit that you don’t have the proper license to share something. If they catch you and are so inclined, they’ll probably still yank the video or, perhaps less harshly, mute it.

It took me a long time to start uploading videos to YouTube, mainly because of copyright issues. You see, I am not particularly interested in being on camera myself. I am very self-conscious about how I come across on film. I sound better than I look. I’ve also been to a lot of interesting places and have a lot of photos and videos. Several months ago, I finally broke down and started using Garage Band and iMovie, two software packages that have been on my computer and went unused for years. I’ve discovered that I like making movies and videos, as long as I don’t have to be on film.

Maybe six or seven months ago, I started making videos with photos from my travels and music tracks. A few times, I used music made by a recording artist. Most of the time, I use karaoke tracks that I pay for and then provide vocals to. I know this isn’t quite legal and I would like to make it right, but they don’t make it simple to ask permission to use music. Wouldn’t it be something if music distributors offered a simple way to buy the rights to use music, kind of the way people who sell stock photos do? If I could find a simple and reasonably affordable way to purchase the rights to use music, I probably would in an effort to prevent copyright claims. I recognize that people who are creative should be getting paid for what they do. At the same time, I don’t have the ability to create entirely original music. Or, maybe I do… it would just take a really long time and a lot of effort.

One thing I have noticed from uploading my videos is that I am attracting other musically inclined folks. There’s one guy in Scotland who plays guitar and piano who has offered to send me a track that I can add vocals to. If I hadn’t illegally uploaded a few videos featuring my vocals, that couldn’t have happened. Perhaps the next step is to make something totally original with an original melody and lyrics. I don’t see myself as able to write a melody, but I could probably write decent lyrics. I’ve never tried to, but writing comes somewhat easily to me. I’d love to give it the college try.

Last night, when I saw the YouTube note letting me know that one of the music publishers had made a claim and the sound on my video was muted, I decided to remove the video altogether. It had been up for about six weeks and the people I wanted to see it had seen it, so it served its purpose. I still have the film on my computer and it still tears me up to watch it, even though it had only gotten about 25 hits on YouTube. I don’t tend to share my videos extensively, anyway.

Even though I know that copyrights are important, I find it very difficult to create something entirely original. Every idea has an inspiration and many times, it comes from an unoriginal source. Sometimes, if I am in a public place taking video, there’s music being played that I couldn’t turn off even if I wanted to. I have a couple of videos on YouTube like that, too; and they got the matched third party content notice, though the videos are still playable. And I see on YouTube that copyright violations, while not legal, are certainly rampant. If they busted every single user for copyright infringement, they would have very few videos to show.

Anyway, I don’t upload many videos to YouTube and after this first experience with a video being muted, I’m not sure how many more I will upload. I need to go on vacation again anyway, so I’ll have more photos and film. Even though I think I’ve arrived, maybe moviemaking isn’t my forte. On the other hand, the prospect of sharing music and collaborating with others from other lands is exciting to me. Maybe this will lead to another skill.

shargram (in Scotland) and Doc Protool (in Italy) collaborating on The Beatles’ “Yesterday”.