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Websites confused about intellectual property ownership

It is the dream of many New York musicians and songwriters to create a legacy of music that will live for generations. Most composers find it flattering when other musicians cover their songs in concert or on recordings. Composers of the classical genre may never have imagined how long their music would thrive or how many musicians would honor them with performances of their songs. Unfortunately, some of those musicians are finding themselves facing intellectual property disputes because of content filtering systems used by many websites.

Content filtering systems on YouTube and Facebook locate copyrighted material that members post on their pages, and flag them as violations. While music in the classical genre is often in the public domain, record companies own the modern recordings of those pieces. Recently, a classical pianist posted on Facebook a video of himself playing a piece by Bach, which was then flagged by the website’s filtering system. Sony Music Global then sent the musician a notice of copyright infringement.

The problem is that so many performances of classical pieces sound familiar if they are true to the original composition. While Sony may own the rights to a specific Bach recording, website filtering systems cannot tell the difference between two similar performances. Apparently, the same is true for similar photographs or pieces of writing on similar topics. One writer even received a copyright violation notice for quoting himself on Facebook.

Technology can be helpful in protecting the rights of composers, artists, writers and others. However, it may also lead to disputes and hassles when copyright owners rely entirely on filtering systems that are not able to detect when intellectual property is in the public domain. Those in New York who are dealing with similar disputes over the ownership of creative material may benefit from seeking the advice of an attorney.