Music by VICE

Why Did EMI Music Try to Sue This Cat for Copyright Infringement?

Someone uploaded a YouTube video of their cat purring and apparently 12 seconds of it is an infringement of a musical composition called "Focus".

by Emma Garland
Feb 12 2015, 1:12pm

Much has been written about the flaws of YouTube’s automated takedown system. But for those who don’t know what it is, basically YouTube has loads of evil bots that detect and report millions of alleged copyright infringements everyday, and will one day rule the world. Those reports are then processed by the receiving site without ever being reviewed by a human person. Naturally, this frequently leads to a clusterfuck of false and inaccurate claims.

Last March, someone uploaded a video (above) featuring an hour's worth of loops of their cat, Phantom, purring. Don't ask why. Apparently it's conducive to studying, sleeping, relaxation and that junk. But almost a year on, YouTube's Content ID-System has flagged up part of the loop as an infringement of the musical composition “Focus”, which belongs to EMI Music Publishing and PRS. Torrentfreak reported that the video wasn’t removed, but monetization was disabled so the dude missed out on the stacks of cash generated by video hits from thousands of pet-less insomniacs such as myself who like to live vicariously through the internet. It has to be the first case of "pirate purring" ever recorded. The user, quite reasonably, filed a dispute and EMI has lifted its claim, but the whole ordeal shows how quick copyright law is to capitalise on pretty much anything on the internet.

This isn't the first time, either. This binge-drinkers spoof of Cheryl Cole’s “Promise This” was slapped with 18 separate infringement claims from music publishers last year, although the guy probably deserved every single one of them for using the word “minge” in a song tbh. Even so, YouTube has a history of making it easy for publishers to capitalise on people’s legitimate personal videos. It's only a matter of time before the fart enthusiasts of Vine start recieving claims from Universal insisting their gastronomic output is, in fact, the bass synth from a Lil Wayne track.

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copyright law