It is common knowledge that YouTube is full of copyright pitfalls. Less known is that some of the troubles are a very peculiar case of copyright trolls who exploit the automated system of ContentID. I am rather convinced that at least to some extent there is a defraud of advertisement revenue involved, yet Google is not the victim, but rather users of iLife music.

I have in the past been notified of copyright infringement of my work on YouTube. More than once did a third party claim they held the rights to the music I used in my tutorials. I don’t know the motivation behind the claims, it may well just have been a matching algorithm going wrong, yet I do know that they were in error. As a consequence my ad-free videos were no longer ad free, and the spoils went to the party who claimed they had the rights, as confirmed by a matching algorithm of YouTube.

The thing is, though, that the Content ID database has never been updated to eliminate false positives from Apple’s royalty free iLife sound library. Which puts a lot of Apple users in the position of being confronted with unwarranted copyright claims. Once one of the Apple stock loops is being used in a track that is in the YouTube Content ID database, the algorithm returns a match for your videos whenever they also use that loop.

This is not a new problem. Google has at least acknowledged that their previous process for users to dispute copyright claims was plain ridiculous and at least made it manageable, as the video above should explain. But they know about the whole false positive issue with iLife music. As does Apple. Lots of angry mails have been sent both ways. And yet, neither party has introduced a process that would simply prevent iLife music to trigger the content matching algorithm.

Raoul Pop has located the problem and monitored user rage a few years ago. Still, the false positives hit users today.

I have traced back the pesky Kahuna Jack “Avon” track that blatantly uses an iLife music sample with a few added vocals to a self publishing service1 and did the same for

William Pasley: Music for Hyper-Teens, distributed by: CD Baby and 4Century: Side by Side, distributed by: Believe 2

I don’t think playing a game of whack-a-mole is going to do any good, though. While I hope that YouTube may some day come around and put their users first3 and update their data base to eliminate the false positives that iLife users have to deal with, I went another route.

I’m producing my own tracks to avoid the issue in the future. Like I promised in a previous post, I’m making the track where I used absolutely no loops or samples freely available to you. Do whatever the heck you want with it. I won’t hold you, nor be held accountable for any mischief you intend to cause with it, mind you.

Here you go: Electric Sheep.


  1. about the exploitative nature of which I hesitate to speculate for fear of litigation. ↩︎

  2. I’ll add to the list if I get more YouTube copyright notifications in the hope that Google may help others. ↩︎

  3. Which may be naive, because YouTube does profit from having ad-free videos being turned into ad-serving content, after all. ↩︎

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