Sony licensed stock footage, then branded its creator a pirate for using it himself

Mitch Martinez licensed a stock footage clip to a Sony music label to use in a video; when the company proceeded to file a Youtube copyright complaint against him and refused to take his calls, he filed a copyright claim against them, told them he was cancelling their license to his footage, and threatened to make them re-edit the music video, removing his footage from it.

Epic Records, the Sony division that screwed Martinez over, had no directory info on its website, and its contact form was broken. The lawyers whom Martinez eventually reached took days to get back to him, and acted like it was all an honest misunderstanding and seemingly couldn't understand why he was making a big deal out of it.

False Youtube claims can cost video creators their livelihoods and result in the mass-censorship of their materials. When Sony perceives that its copyrights have been violated, they are relentless, merciless and impatient.

It's a neat illustration of the "one rule for you, another for me" thinking of the entertainment industry's lobbyists and lawyers. They demand policies that provide for easy censorship and harsh penalties for anyone who transgresses against them, and never consider, even for an instant, how these rules might be applied to them.

I'd contribute to a champerty fund for Martinez if he wanted to sue Sony for violating his license terms.

On the subsequent calls, the person in Epic legal acknowledged that the footage was, in fact, my footage and thanked me for allowing them to use the footage. That's a win for my side of things. He claimed that the person I issued the license agreement to no longer worked at Epic and this was the first he was hearing of the issue. Large companies, however, usually have a policy of having a forward of e-mails for employees that no longer work there, so that didn't really add up. But either way, I provided him all of the information again – including the fact that the footage they claimed copyright to was created and uploaded to my YouTube account almost a full two years prior to me issuing a license agreement to Epic/Sony and the upload of their video. The call ended with him saying he was going to review the license agreement I issued and get back to me. That didn't sound promising. I figured I was about to find out if there were any major loopholes in my license agreements…

The next call from Epic's legal department confirmed that they had officially dropped the copyright claim to my footage. I acknowledged and asked if they have removed or replaced all of my footage from their video. They had not. Instead, their legal department insisted that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and asked if there was any way they could continue to use my footage in their video.

I noted that there was no misunderstanding on my end. The terms of use were violated — whether it was done directly by Epic/Sony or by another company doing content IDs on their behalf. The copyright claim was made against my content and when disputed, the claim was maintained on their end. There's no misunderstanding there.

The purpose of my stock footage resource is to help people, though, so I stated that if I was fully credited and website linked in the video, I would allow them to continue using my content for the specific video. He stated that he did not have the specific authority to make that decision and we would check on it. I explained very clearly that if they did not comply with the conditions I stated that their only other course of action would be to replace or remove my footage from their video – and also noted that YouTube does not allow replacement videos so they would be forced to remove the video and lose their hit count on the video.

Sony Filed a Copyright Claim Against the Stock Video I Licensed to Them
[Mitch Martinez/Petapixel]

(via /.)