Yearly Archives: 2014

Eric SoundCloud and copyright: an overview

Building a platform that helps creators of music & audio share their original content is at the heart of everything we do at SoundCloud. From the outset, we wanted to build a diverse, collaborative community of creators, where everyone gets credit for the content that they make and own, and where the rights of creators are respected. That’s one reason why we take copyright so seriously.

Understanding copyright

We also take copyright seriously because it’s the law. The internet provides amazing opportunities for creators to reach millions of people around the world. Laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the US, and other legislation in other countries, have helped enable this. But the existence of these laws doesn’t mean that companies like SoundCloud that provide content-sharing platforms, or the people who use these platforms, can ignore the rights of copyright owners. Copyright law ensures that copyright owners can control how their work is used — if a copyright owner decides that they don’t want their work appearing on SoundCloud, even in a way that others might think is promotional, that’s their right.

We believe there’s a distinction between piracy, which is malicious and damaging to artists, and the use of someone else’s tracks in new, creative and transformative ways. The latter is an important form of creative expression, but that doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all or something that exists outside the law. Generally speaking, the copyright owner still has the right to decide whether or not someone else should be allowed to remix their track and upload it to SoundCloud. If someone remixes a track without permission, they are likely infringing someone else’s rights. It doesn’t matter if the remixer credited the original artist, or that they’re not making any money from the track; in most cases, they still need permission. The same applies to DJ mixes, mashups, mixtapes and all other uses of someone else’s content. We expect everyone posting content to SoundCloud — whether they are a musician, producer, comedian, podcaster or anyone else — to have all permissions that they need; our system is focused on protecting, not clearing, these rights.

Creating an ecosystem where creativity thrives

We want SoundCloud to be the place where all kinds of creativity thrive, and that means creating an ecosystem where copyright owners have control over the use of their work and can be compensated for it. When we launched On SoundCloud in late August of 2014, a key part of the program was to help creators to monetize their original content. In this initial phase, we’ve been joined by a wide range of Premier Partners, from up-and-coming indies to artists associated with major labels. However, this is just the beginning. You may have heard that we’ve added Warner Music Group to our list of Premier Partners. Working with them, along with other Premier Partners such as indie artist Sizzlebird, music label Spinnin’ Records, and podcast network Earwolf, is a step towards building a new creative ecosystem. We will always fight against piracy, but we are on a path that we hope will expand opportunities to DJs and producers who remix others’ content. No one has done this before. Some services have tried to use existing licensing models to clear some rights in some countries, but no one has solved this problem globally at scale. It’s a huge task that requires collaboration and buy-in from many different groups and rightsholders. It’s not going to happen overnight. But in time, we believe we can make it happen.

There will be some short term pain. We are making some big moves and need to do this in the right way, which may mean that, as a listener, some content that you’re used to finding on SoundCloud may not be available for a short while. Rest assured, we’re doing everything we can to ensure that SoundCloud remains a truly global platform, where anyone can share their creations and connect with a worldwide audience in real time.

In the meantime, we‘ll continue to ensure that artists and copyright owners have the tools they need to control how their work appears on SoundCloud. With that in mind, we wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the tools we have in place today — both automated and manual — and how we are using these to look out for the rights of creators.

Protecting copyright at SoundCloud

Automated content identification on SoundCloud isn’t new. We implemented it back in 2010. Here’s how it works: when you upload a track, our system checks your upload against a database of tracks that copyright owners have asked us to block. If the system detects a match, then your upload is blocked, because that’s what the copyright owner has asked us to do. We also run the system in the background to make sure that we’re picking up infringing content on an ongoing basis after upload.  If we detect a match, the track will be removed.

All kinds of people post to SoundCloud: major labels, indie labels, micro labels, artists, publishers, individual creators, and more. The system is looking out for all of them equally. We don’t choose or prioritize the identifications that the system makes which lead to takedowns. We don’t treat long pieces of content differently from shorter ones. We don’t give labels or anyone else access to the automated system to choose or prioritize the identifications, other than selecting which of their tracks they want blocked, and who (if anyone) should be allowed to upload their work without it being blocked. That means that when it comes to identifying copyright through our automated system, no content is favored over any other.

In addition to the automated system, we have a manual takedown process. Manual takedowns happen when people submit a report directly using our webform, which can be found by clicking on the ‘Report Copyright Infringement’ button that appears on every track page. Anyone can report a copyright infringement if they are the relevant copyright owner, and every report results in the same thing: the reported content is removed from SoundCloud while the dispute is resolved. In some cases, copyright owners can remove content from SoundCloud directly using a takedown tool. This tool has been available for several years, and provides the most effective means for copyright owners to remove unauthorized content. SoundCloud is no different from other big hosting platforms in this respect, and our policy hasn’t changed because of any deals we’ve made with labels or other copyright owners. Copyright owners are not able to terminate anyone’s account — only SoundCloud can do this, and we will do it if we receive repeated reports of infringement. Whether a copyright owner removes content directly, or reports it to us for removal, the result is the same: the content is removed until the dispute can be resolved.

Why remove the content first? Because that’s how the law works. That’s why all responsible user-generated content platforms operate in this way.

Fundamentally, our approach to copyright protection hasn’t changed since we launched the platform in 2008. SoundCloud has always focused on the needs of creators, and that means protecting the rights of creators — if it seems like there’s been an increase in takedowns over the years, it’s because the amount of content and number of creators on SoundCloud have been growing, not because we’ve chosen, or been forced, to do things differently. We haven’t.

Resolving copyright disputes

Mistakes can be made, particularly when using automated systems — sometimes tracks get mistakenly identified, and sometimes they get blocked when the person uploading them has the right to post them. For these reasons, anyone who has a track blocked or removed from SoundCloud is notified — every time — and has the opportunity to dispute that decision, every time. That is the same for all users, without exception, and applies to all blocked or removed tracks, without exception. We have a dedicated support team working across our global offices to manage takedowns and to help resolve disputes as quickly as possible.

If a track gets flagged by our automated system or gets reported manually, that track is removed until the dispute can be resolved. The process is exactly the same whether you’re a bedroom DJ or an A-list artist. There have been several cases reported in the press where high-profile accounts have been impacted by our copyright policies — that’s always unfortunate, but it’s important to us that all creators on SoundCloud are treated equally when it comes to reported infringements.

Leveling up the copyright protection process

As with all of our technology, we’re constantly working to improve things. In the case of content identification, that means working to increase the speed at which we can analyze content, but more importantly, to improve the system’s accuracy. No system is perfect, and we recognize how frustrating it is to have a track blocked or removed because our system thought it was something else. This creates work for you in filing disputes, and additional work for us in processing those disputes. Reducing the number of false positives remains a top priority for our team and the technology partners we work with.

As we said, our ultimate goal is to create an ecosystem where new forms of creative expression can live, and to do so in a way that benefits everyone. That’s not going to happen overnight, but we are actively working towards it. Thank you for continuing to join us on the journey.

If you find a track on SoundCloud that infringes your rights, you can report it to us here. If you want to talk to someone about adding your content to our automated content identification system, so that you can stop other people uploading it to SoundCloud, please contact us.

Darrell Introducing Collection, your new SoundCloud home on the web

We designed Collection to make it easy for you to build your own home on the web for your favorite music & audio.  Follow artists, like tracks and playlists, build your own playlists of favorite tracks, and be the first to hear what’s new from your favorite creators. Whether you’re using SoundCloud on web or on iPhone, you’ll find everything you love in your personal, private Collection (we’ll be bringing it to you on Android in 2015).

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You can play your liked tracks in the order that you’ve added them, or mix it up with the Likes shuffle.

Get to your Collection on the web by logging in and clicking https://soundcloud.com/you/collection. We hope you’ll settle in, hit play and enjoy — with your Collection, you’ll hear all your favorites for hours with just one click.

Brendan Meet On SoundCloud Premier Partner Cyra Morgan

On SoundCloud Premier Partner Cyra MorganToday we’re checking in with On SoundCloud Premier Partner and longtime community favorite Cyra Morgana folk singer-songwriter based out of New York.

Please introduce yourself to the SoundCloud community.

Hey everyone, I’m Cyra Morgan, a singer songwriter based in NYC. I’ve been singing and writing for as long as I can remember, this self expression is essential to me, my therapy. I describe my style as intimate acoustic folk. Over the past couple of years I’ve been building my career and sharing bits of my soul on SoundCloud and have connected with some incredible artists and some amazing people. This experience has become the beginning of a beautiful journey. My listeners and friends, give me the courage to keep going, to keep writing and allow me to be my most vulnerable, my most authentic self through my music. For this I am forever grateful.

How do you use SoundCloud?

I like to release my music on SoundCloud in it’s most authentic stage, that is, right out of my head and heart. When I write a song, I feel this need to capture the raw emotion of whatever I’m feeling as accurately as possible, there is immense vulnerability in that and SoundCloud is a safe place for me to share. Community connection has always been huge for me on SoundCloud. Listening to other artists, supporting and being supported by them has been incredibly inspiring and encouraging. Engaging with the community has been invaluable, leading to friends, collaborative projects, opening doorways to new music genres… The comments is a feature that I use constantly, responding to listeners is something I try to do regularly, showing my appreciation to those who take the time to listen is really important to me. Spotlight is also such a great tool allowing my more relevant tracks to be heard first. I always post on SoundCloud first, then share to other social networks from my SC page. The visual player looks so beautiful on other platforms. I tend to repost collaborations that I’ve done with other artists as well as songs that really touch me. Also the embedding is priceless, I have the player and playlists on my website, it looks great and can direct listeners right back to my SC profile.

Describe your creative process. What is your set up like?

I’ll have a phrase and a little melody playing over and over in my head until it becomes a song. It’s an organic process for me, coming from a place of necessity more so than creativity. Once I have a solid melody, I pick up my acoustic guitar and work out the chords, usually with an entire string section playing in my head. I record guitar first, a Martin acoustic, using Reason Essentials, a Shure Mic and my Mac. Then I record vocals and harmonies. I tend to use Garage Band sometimes for mixing, because it’s so simple to use. Then I export and upload to SC, after listening to it, arguing with myself over whether it’s good enough to post yet. After I remind myself that it’s all about the authenticity, I’ll take a breath and upload.

How have you reached certain goals or steps in your career?

Four years ago, I couldn’t play an instrument. I picked up the guitar and learned a few chords in order to get my songs out of my head. Joining SoundCloud was a life changer for me, sharing my music here and connecting with this community confirmed my life long belief that singing and writing is what I’ve always been meant to do. Through SoundCloud, I’ve gone on to do projects for companies like Propellerhead software, features for Flipboard, Jivewired America, The Financial Times, The Jimmy Lloyd Songwriter Showcase for NBC, The Guitar Center Singer Songwriter Finals in 2013, I’ve signed a publishing contract with North Star Media. I’ve learned that my fans like when I’m honest, when I stay true to myself and to them. Staying connected and living in a state of gratitude reminds me that I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without them. I think that the best advice that I’ve gotten is “Just keep on doing what you’re doing”. Do what you do because you love it, because it brings you joy, don’t try to be anyone but yourself and be the best possible “you”. My style is a bit unique in a bare bones, imperfect sort of way. But every day I do what I can to be better, I practice playing guitar, I try to learn a bit more piano, I write a little and record snippets of ideas. I play live whenever I get the chance to get comfortable accompanying myself on stage. And I search for future band members so that some day soon, I’ll have an album to share. No matter how many “No’s” you might hear, if you love what you do, you keep going, because one big “yes” can change everything.

What does it feel like to become a Premier Partner? What’s next for you? 

Becoming a Premier Partner has been an amazing opportunity. The monetization of tracks has been such a cool feature, the idea of my music bringing in income is really promising. Making a living doing what I love is the goal, so having that option is wonderful. Also, the exposure from being a Premier Partner has connected me with new fans and listeners which I am always grateful for. For the next phase in my career, I would like to get some musicians together to record a debut album. I’d like to take my music to the next level with placement in film and television and touring around the world. Playing on the tonight show with Jimmy Fallon is on the list too, I mean, how high are we reaching here?

Who or what is inspiring you creatively? Are there people that you’d like to collaborate or work with?

Generally, my songs come from a place of intense emotion. Emotions that are almost too much to contain. I feel like if I can capture that feeling as authentically as possible, it helps to carry the emotion, lessens the weight of what I’m holding. Much of my inspiration comes from the tiny details in life, in nature, in the phrasing of how people speak to one another, the thoughts in my head, things I want to say but won’t say out loud, or can’t say out loud. One of my most memorable collaborations on SoundCloud was when I posted a vocal track of a song called “New Day”. I had put it out to the community, asking for folks to add to it. The response was amazing to me, at least fifty Clouders added their magic and each version was so different from the last. The fact that so many took the time to work with my creation was humbling and inspiring. There are so many artists that I admire, number one would have to be Regina Spektor. I also adore Damien Rice, Ingrid Michaelson, Ray LaMontagne, Bon Iver, I also love The Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, there really are just so many. I would LOVE to collaborate with Damien Rice at some point in my career, that is my dream collab right there.  

Closing thoughts.

It’s very difficult for me to describe how significantly SoundCloud has changed the course of my life. I was a different person before I became a part of this community. I had thought, at that point in my life, that I had missed the chance to live this dream that my heart had held for as long as I’ve had memories. SoundCloud gave me a second chance to live it. It was a metamorphosis, like I had been sleeping, for years, and then woke up and learned what it feels like to fly.

 

You can hear Cyra’s latest track Solace on her profile or below.

For more about becoming a Premier Partner, visit on.soundcloud.com. To read more interviews from On SoundCloud Premier Partners, click right here.