UPDATE: News.com reports in greater depth on this situation, and as it turns out, the system isn't a unilateral, automated removal of soundtracks at all. Apparently,YouTube identifies videos with unlicensed music using an automated filter, and then notifies the uploader/user of the situation, giving the CHOICE to mute the audio, or remove the entire video. As commenters have pointed out, this is still problematic, as it fails to consider Fair Use as a possible defense or justification for the inclusion of the music. YouTube's already been taken to task in court once over indiscriminate take-downs…
In this post, Read Write Web reports that YouTube has apparently instituted an automated system to remove unlicensed music tracks from videos posted to the YouTube site. The altered videos appear without audio, apparently the ENTIRE audio track is removed, even if only a short segment contains the unlicensed music. If true, this concession to interests of copyright holders in music will have far-reaching implications for the site.
Will YouTube be liable to its users who upload material that the system “edits” erroneously? (likely covered by the Terms of Service)
Will users be notified of this policy formally, when uploading, or will the “edits” just occur?
Will YouTube also implement similar filtering for unlicensed video, photos, etc? What about videos featuring people who've not signed releases allowing the use of their likenesses, performance, etc.
Seems to me, this opens a real can of worms. Should keep the entertainment and internet lawyers busy for years to come.
What do you readers think?