Sony accuses Beyonce of piracy for putting her videos on YouTube

Sony Entertainment has shut down Beyonce's official YouTube site. Congrats to Sony Entertainment for wisely spending its legal dollars and working on behalf of its artists. Truly, you deserve many laws and secret treaties passed to protect your "business model" (how else could such a delicate flower survive the harsh realities of the real world?).

YouTube - beyonce's Channel (via Motherboard)


  1. Isn’t it time for all those folks to retire already? Seriously. Budding artists, they’re not nearly important as you might believe.

  2. Sony messed with the wrong people this time. We all know Beyonce is associated with that infamous penis toting Illuminati puppet Lady Gaga.

    And you don’t anger the Illuminati… apparently.

  3. Apparently Sony liked Beyonce so much, they put a ring on it.

    If by ring you mean choke collar, and by it you mean her neck.

  4. Her videos are all on the BeyonceVevo account, so I’m not sure what the problem is (they even transferred the view counts). In fact, the same thing happened to a lot of artists, and it all happened months ago around when Vevo launched.

    1. I think you’ve nailed it with the Vevo angle; this is probably all about Sony’s dark lust over Google’s eyeball revenue.

  5. “This video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds”.

    well, we have a division of Sony Entertainment here in New Zealand, but guess they don’t want us buying their product.

    1. “This video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds”.

      Or in Canada either.

  6. If I were the artist I’d do my best to make that sort of action by the company the LAST actions they’d do with me as a client.

    Oh, well, she probably signed over all rights to her work to Sony, and can’t put it up anywhere any more than anyone else can: It’s probably not hers.

  7. And these guys still don’t understand why people aren’t buying cd’s anymore…

    I’m no fan of Beyonce or Lady Gaga, but if they decided to work on their own, Sony would be weeping and asking them to come back. After this stupid move, that option doesn’t seem so farfetched.

  8. I’m confused – I just went to Bey’s official youtube site and the videos were up and running just fine.

  9. Is it really Sony’s fault, or is it just a YouTube glitch?

    Yesterday, I found all the Channel4 content was giving the same error “This video contains content from Channel 4… ”
    despite being in the UK. It seems to be fine now (as does the beyonce link)

  10. It seems that Sony has made that claim against every other video on Beyonce’s “favourites” list. Not the ones her representative has uploaded.

    Although it’s a bit funny that Sony blocks artist’s (more like PR person’s) faves, but it’s not as sinister you make it sound.

  11. It looks perfectly lawful and logical to me, although totally stupid from a marketing point of view.

    Beyoncé is probably not the copyright holder at all: she’s (probably) “just” the artist executing a (Sony) copyrighted work. She (probably again, I don’t know anything of what she does, yes, that can happen!! it’s just not my cup of tea) is not the author of the songs she performs, nor did she produce the recordings, nor the videos.

    It IS stupid however: this was free promotion for a Sony product by one of the worlds most expensive artists. If I were a Sony exec, I’d say: “great!”.

    But probably their lawyers told them that there might be some caveats they should guard themselves for, like Beyoncé suing Sony for letting herself upload these videos on her own website: this could mean possible loss of royalties for the performer (Beyoncé herself), because if it had been done according to their contracts, she should (probably) have perceived money for ANY publication of works she participated in.

    That’s the world we now live in!!!!

  12. I think you’re saying that since Beyonce doesn’t “own” her own work, she’s not allowed to upload it. Sounds like good legal reasoning to me. (Though, since I’m not a lawyer, it actually sounds crazy.)

    All I know is that this is strike one for Beyonce. Two more strikes and she gets her internet cut off for life. That’s how the music industry wants it anyway.

  13. Note that the message says “blocked it in your country”. I would think that Sony Music Entertainment in the US operates the channel and has told YouTube to block the videos for users outside the US to avoid copyright conflicts with licensees in other countries.

  14. can we not try harder to put these idiots out of business sooner?

    it’s not like there once was this other free but ad supported music video delivery system thing called mtv that showed music videos *shudder* for free and made musician and executive piles and piles of gold.

    you know there’s rooms full of twenty something year old marketing peeps at sony and every other label just absolutely seething at how all their ideas of how to monetize informations shared on the internet en masse just gets flat out ignored by sell out record execs that can’t STFU about how amazing it was at woodstock.

  15. Wow – Sony, you’re geniuses. And by geniuses, I mean fucking idiots destined for the scraphead of history.

  16. That’s a genius move. Here’s how they will pitch it: Sony. Sign with us and we’ll guarantee no one will hear your music. Unless it’s on minidisc. So yeah, no one. WAIT, Beta!. ATRAC is a realistic competitor to mp3.

    if you only sell your music as blu ray, you’ll get paid (you remember the piece of pie that represents what people do with found money, welcome to charity)

  17. Mmm, Working in France, for now. C’est la vie.

    For those lacking sane access to youtube but in possession of a vivid imagination I’ll fill in the blanks.

    Three ladies.
    Oiled thighs.
    Quivering buttocks.
    Bit of thigh slapping.
    Lighting changes.
    It all gets a bit repetitive after a while, but still not unpleasant to watch.
    Ends on a bit of panting!

    Tres bien.

    1. I enjoy the video even though I’m not much of a Beyonce fan. She acknowledged that she was heavily influenced by Bob Fosse, which she didn’t really have to do since she wasn’t copying any actual choreography of his. Of course, the “Walk it Out Fosse” mashup featuring 3 incredibly funky 70’s-era women in sherbet-colored pantsuits doing some of the baddest moves I’ve seen has been removed from YouTube due to copyright infringement. Quite honestly, these ladies appear to be in the upper reaches of their 30s and kick Beyonce’s behind at dancing.

      Too bad I can’t post a link. YouTube fascists.

    2. Fair summary. The tune’s kind of catchy though. For some reason I saw this video when it was “video of the year” and was so underwhelmed that I watched the other nominees. It honestly is head and shoulders above the competition.

      Although the highlight of all this viewing was that the word “muffin” was bleeped in the Lady Gaga video.

  18. “Okay, gentlemen – there’s still a microscopic segment of the population we haven’t yet pissed off. What intensely stupid thing can we do to achieve our ultimate goal of angering the entire human race?”

    1. @ turnstyle & #5 – I noticed the Vevo thing too. I was curious who they are. Turns out they are co-owned by Sony.

      Check it out here:

      Vevo shares ad revenue with Google, but I bet all the ad revenue generated beyonce’s personal channel went straight to Google, hence Sony’s desire to redirect traffic to their Vevo channels.

      Regarding transferring the viewer hits, they didn’t always do that. The original video for Weezer’s “Pork and Beans” racked up 20,000,000+ views, but the Vevo one has 675,000.

    2. This video contains content from Vevo, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.

  19. @ Bellebouche – funnily enough, half of those descriptions describe most of the video content on the internet anyway… ;)

  20. Compare and contrast with “Telephone” by Lady Gaga, the video for which everyone was embedding and blogging about a week or two ago. I don’t know if Gaga is part of Sony too, but I imagine there would have been less blogging and discussion (and free publicity, duh) if bloggers had been unable to see and embed the video freely.

    -verb, to show you are hopelessly behind the times, as the corporation Sony.
    Ex: “They really walkmanned that all up.”

  21. I think that the most beneficial argument to make is that because of corporate arm-twisting, Beyond doesn’t own her own music. The “copyright holder” essentially owns her work and, despite all of this talk of fairness and the rights of artists, artists are not the ones in control.

  22. Oh, how much money I gave to Sony for my Walkman, which basically existed to I could play music I copied onto Sony casette tapes from my friends’ vinyl (and further tapes were bought so they could copy my vinyl). Sony made pirating easy back in the day and made a boatload of money doing it.

  23. At Sony, not only doesn’t the right hand not know what the left hand is doing, the right hand doesn’t even know there is a left hand. Dolts.

  24. Does Beyoncé have to pay a ridiculously bonkers amount of money now because she deprived Sony of sales?

  25. Makes you wonder who really is in charge over at Sony entertainment, the lawyers, the accountants or the stockholders ?

  26. We shouldn’t make fun of Sony, they’re doing the community a charitable service by employing developmentally disabled members of the bar association.

    1. I think that was the first time I’ve gotten to be comment number 42, and used it to say something dry and sarcastic.

      I’m so proud ;-;

  27. This is why the status quo cannot stand. Artist have no ownership of theri own work and are treated by publishers as merely employees, or worse, slaves.

    (how apt that the reCaptcha words were forced overwork. lol)

  28. That’s a nice blog post, and I’ma let you finish, but the Sony Root Kit was the worst Sony copyright madness of all time.

    OF. ALL. TIME.

  29. Tuesday: le voila! Not youtube, tiny video, but still hilarious.

    The origial “Mexican Breakfast” was shot on Ed Sullivan in 1969, making Gwen Verdon around 44 y.o. in the film. How awesome is she?

    The mashup of Gwen and Beyonce is still up at

    Other notable derivitaves featuring people who dance better than Beyonce include this one:

  30. One can only hope that Sony pulls back a bloody stump when they realize just how stupid they’ve been over this. It’s the only way they’ll ever learn.

  31. “Oh, well, she probably signed over all rights to her work to Sony, and can’t put it up anywhere any more than anyone else can: It’s probably not hers.” Worse than that, Sony’s lawyers will claim till their last dying breath that as a “work made for hire,” she never HAD any rights to sign over, and that SONY is the author of the work. She, the musicians, and the writers never had any more rights than the gofer that fetched the coffee.

  32. Big Artists often get song writing credits on their songs as part of their deal, it’s a financial thing; you write a song, if a big artist takes it you get more sales, they then want a share of the royalties, they get this by being a credited songwriter. Another fun aspect of the modern music industry, artists don’t need to produce any art :D

    Beyonce does write a lot of her stuff though, so perhaps this is irrelevant.

  33. There is in fact a punishment for false takedown in the DMCA — good thing nobody, not even google, would ever consider using it.

    Also, music companies need to pursue medium-level exposure for their top acts, or risk having to pay them.

  34. It occurs to me, were I to put my conspiracy tinfoil hat on, that Beyonce could be indirectly responsible for this takedown.

    Step 1: Beyonce Inc. puts up vid(s) on YouTube
    Step 2: vid(s) become wildly popular
    Step 2a: Google Inc. profit from this directly
    Step 2b: Beyonce Inc. also profits from this, albeit indirectly
    Step 3: Beyonce Inc. realises that she doesn’t like the ‘indirect’ bit of Step 2b – it’s just too nebulous.
    Step 3b: Beyonce Inc. also realises she has limited ability to pull content /she/ placed on YouTube.
    Step 4: Beyonce Inc. asks Sony Inc. to send Google Inc. a takedown notice
    Step 5: content taken down, and everyone* is happy

    I have no way of knowing whether the above is true, but it’s vaguely plausible, and makes for a fun conspiracy theory :D


    * for some definition of ‘everyone’ … presumably one that excludes Google Inc. and Beyonce fans.

  35. Funny that a company that sells millions of recording devices like VCRs,CD & DVD recorders would be so concerned about copyright infringement.Guess we should just buy them but not use them?

  36. I’m sitting here in a Georgian terraced house in Finchley, North London. They’re showing me Beyonce’s YouTube thing just fine.

    Is it because I’m frightfully British?

  37. Venezuela too. It is the same for most tv channels , you cant see them outside the US, You cant buy Uk ´s press books for kindle either

  38. this shows the real face of the companies fighting against piracy. The claim to do it “protect the artist”, but in reality they are protecting their own bankaccount…

  39. “Beyoncé – Naughty Girl”
    This video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment. It is no longer available in your country.

  40. It might be significant that Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) is on a different account, BeyonceSME. When I go to the channel page for BeyonceSME, I find that some of the videos uploadied to that account will play but others, such as Halo, just lead to “This video is not available.” messages.

  41. As stated by others here, it’s because of the migration to Vevo…..which happened months ago. Sloppy, yes, but not at all what is implied here.

    No one thinks the music industry is more ridiculous and pathetic than me, but chose your battles :).

    1. Probably because maura has no readership and no one cares.

      Hi maura! That’s right… no one cares.

  42. Why would any record label ever want a YouTube video taken down, regardless of who posted it?

    Back in the day, a record exec would cream his pants if Mtv played one of his artists. Now Mtv doesn’t play videos, and the best way to get exposure is on the internet. Now you have fans going out of their way to basically give you free advertising, and the labels pull them down. Stupidity like this doesn’t deserve our hard earned money.

    1. As a commentator above said, music videos aren’t advertising any more; they’re a product in their own right. You can buy music videos on iTunes. However, if you can capture a video hosted on YouTube you don’t need to buy it. And if you can extract the soundtrack you can put the song on your iPod.

      1. if you can capture a video hosted on YouTube you don’t need to buy it. And if you can extract the soundtrack you can put the song on your iPod.

        This is a baseless reason for pulling youtube vids. What is stopping me from doing the exact same thing to an HD broadcast of MTV? I’d get better quality, better sound, just as free, arguably just as easy (with modern HD recorders). People do this all the time when a radio station spins an album before its official release.

        It’s OK though…. the more money they waste on crap like this, the faster they will go down the shithole. Once upon a time records companies were a necessary evil because the technology required to produce recorded music was prohibitively expensive – far beyond the means of most musicians or groups. This has all changed and they are on a slippery slope to insignificance. Bye Bye turd-burger record industry!

  43. I am severely disappointed this article hasn’t been updated to include the VEVO info as other commenters have pointed out. Additionally disappointed that “music industry BAD” has trumped a simple Google search for fact-checking. Cory, I usually love what you have to say, so I would really like to see a little consideration here for something that doesn’t fit neatly into the general narrative that anything creative commons is inherently bad.

  44. I’m sure Sony’s master plan is less about controlling artists in the name of profit and more about opening the dark portal to summon the beasts of the 7th circle of hell onto earth. There will be human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

    I mean, really. There’s evil, and then there’s the music industry.

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