Sony cries foul over copyright infringement

video-1195129If this recent instance is to be taken into consideration, it appears that Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., (SME) does not follow the saying “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”; confused? It seems that one Mr. Mitch Martinez entered into a license agreement with Epic Records, a division of SME. Through this agreement, Epic Records was allowed to use a stock footage i.e. a video which can be used by others in their films or movies, in one of its artist’s video. However, soon after he received a YouTube notification, informing him that SME had issued copyright claim for his footage which he had uploaded on his YouTube account.

Even after following the routine procedure i.e. countering the copyright claim and explaining that the content in dispute was licensed by him to Epic records, the copyright claim was not withdrawn. In fact a few days after filing the counter claim, he was astounded to see a status update whereby SME confirmed their claim. Martinez tried to contact the person to whom he had issued the license, but to no avail.

The license agreement specifically states that “Mitch Martinez retains all right, title, and interest in and to the Stock Files not expressly granted by the License Grant above. Such rights are protected by the United States and International Copyright laws and international treaty provisions. You may be held legally responsible for any copyright infringement that is caused or encouraged by your failure to abide by the terms of this Agreement”[i]. Thus SME’s claim was in direct violation of the terms of use in the agreement.

When his explanations and clarifications fell on deaf ears, Martinez then filed a separate copyright claim against their video. Further, he also filled a feedback form on the SME’s website; he was soon contacted by a person from the legal department to whom he explained the whole situation, including the fact that he had uploaded the footage on his YouTube account two years prior to the execution of license agreement.

After back and forth communication, SME finally withdrew the copyright claim. While it is true that the claim was withdrawn, it couldn’t be denied that the terms of use were also violated. Therefore, Martinez demanded that for Epic Records to continue the use of his footage, they had to credit him as the copyright owner and link his website to their video, which they did.

This is not the first time when big enterprises have cried foul over copyright infringement. Over the years there have been numerous instances where enterprises’ have tried to twist the arms of small businesses and entrepreneurs alike, pressurizing them to yield to their copyright claims. While it is extremely important that one should be vigilant of his/her intellectual property rights, care must be taken so as to avoid interference with the rights of others.

[i] Mitch Martinez, Sony Filed a Copyright Claim Against the Stock Video I Licensed to Them, Available at: http://petapixel.com/2015/10/25/sony-filed-a-copyright-claim-against-the-stock-video-i-licensed-to-them/

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