Artists Angry with TuneCore and INDmusic Over YouTube Claims

Artists and gamers have taken issue with TuneCore and INDmusic over the companies' recent efforts to claim YouTube videos that contain copyrighted music. 

The eruption of complaints on Twitter, Reddit and elsewhere this week gives a glimpse of how the complex and awkward nature of managing music rights on YouTube is playing out as songwriters and labels rush to claim as many user-generated videos as they can in order to begin collecting advertising money from the giant video platform. Their collective efforts have led to a recent flurry of videos being flagged as having a copyright claim -- and catching many YouTubers and composers such as Gavin Dunne by surprise.

Dunne, who writes game music, told The Escapist that his YouTube channel was "riddled with third party claims from INDmusic -- the irony being they were being claimed on my behalf for using my own songs which I wrote and performed." Dunne said the company was claiming 20% of his videos' advertising revenue "without my consent." 

Terry Cavanaugh, another music composer and game developer, received similar notices from INDmusic and TuneCore, according to Giant Bomb. Cavanaugh Tweeted to TuneCore that "You forgot I never agreed to anybody collecting anything ever on YouTube. You guys did that together with Indmusic."

INDmusic and TuneCore, through a spokeswoman, insist the companies are simply trying to help artists make more money from YouTube videos.

TuneCore struck a deal with INDmusic last month to monetize YouTube videos. The deal allowed INDmusic to scour YouTube for videos that play any of TuneCore artists' music and then claim copyright ownership of those videos. Because Dunne and Cavanaugh use TuneCore to distribute their songs to iTunes and other online retailers, INDmusic automatically flagged the videos on Dunne's YouTube channel as well.

YouTube's system allows uploaders to dispute copyright claims. During the dispute, neither party is allowed to collect advertising revenue until the conflict is resolved. After some negotiation with the companies, Dunne and Cavanaugh were able to get TuneCore to "whitelist" their channels to prevent INDmusic from claiming 20% of their ad revenue.

However, both continue to object to the companies flagging videos that fans have made using their music, including those who post video reviews of their games. In the same Twitter exchange with Cavanaugh on Dec. 17, TuneCore requested a list of fans and their videos. Cavanaugh said he doesn't know who all his fans are and simply wanted anyone to be able to post videos using his work without getting a copyright infringement notice. TuneCore replied, "...don't know them, how could you give them permission to use your music? It's claimed for you, since you wrote it."

Billboard requested a fuller explanation from TuneCore and INDmusic and will post any response via an update to this post.