Brown says that YouTube respects the ownership of its individual users and complies with any requests to remove material. Although the artists interviewed for this article said that they respected the authors of their music's source material, they didn't see a problem with rehashing a viral clip into an original work.
"I didn't contact anyone before remixing ["Slap Chop"], because I wasn't the first person to remix it," Porter says. "There was no thought about it, since it was already being done."
The damages that can result from this type of copyright infringement depend on the copyright owner, the specific infringement and who is infringing it, according to Prager. However, she advises anyone looking to remix a viral clip to check if the original video uses a Creative Commons license, which allows users to share and download their video and is easily searchable on YouTube.
LEAVING YOUR MARK
While artists who concoct original songs out of viral videos are exploring uncharted artistic territory, the most successful ones have abided by clear-cut strategies to have their voices heard on YouTube. For starters, they experience YouTube as users first before immersing themselves in the site as artists.
"The best thing I did to understand the YouTube community was to be a part of it," Relm says. The producer says that he learned to provide download links to his MP3s directly from his video, as well as tighten his video descriptions for optimum keyword searches. Relm also varies his audience by affiliating his videos with different YouTube channels, including humor site Barely
Political and his own DJ-centric Radio Fried Films page.
Artist management has also adapted to the rules of YouTube to raise its client's profile. Bennett has replaced Relm's electronic press kits with links to his artist's YouTube videos, and he has stressed the importance of social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
However, Bennett insists that consistency separates the legitimate YouTube artists from the flash-in-the-pan pretenders. After Relm stopped "putting stuff up whenever he felt like it" and uploaded work at regular intervals, Bennett says that a solid fan base started to form.
The Gregory Brothers believe that artists of their ilk will soon become more prominent, since the process of making music out of video clips isn't disappearing soon. In fact, guitarist Andrew Gregory can easily envision a world where songs like "Auto-Tune the News" are topping the charts. It's a world that may arrive sooner than expected: the Gregory Brothers' "Bed Intruder Song" debuted on the Hot 100 at No. 89 and started on the Hot Digital Songs at No. 89.
"There are plenty of comments that quote funny lines from the song," Andrew Gregory says, "but one of the comments I see most often on our videos is, 'I can't get this out of my head.' "