It’s not that I have already to deal with a lot of crap at the moment that something that just happened a few days ago has to come on top of all of it to “make my day” and “make my head shake in disbelief’“.
It started with a big fat screen where you can see the snapshot of below, when I logged into one of my YouTube.com accounts. I was forced to acknowledge the message, before I could do anything else.
I was upset at first, because I thought that once more some idiot would claim something that is not his to begin with to cause trouble and inconvenience for YouTuber’s, because they are full of themselves.
Dreyfus – Jarre – Oxygene & The Demoscene
Wouldn’t be the first time. I still remember when in February 2008 a company with the name FRANCIS DREYFUS MUSIC came along and claimed the video recording of the PC/MS DOS demo called “Contrast” by the French demo group “Oxygene” from 1996 as their intellectual property that I was supposed to be infringing on. Well, Dreyfus did believe back then that any video with the word “Oxygene” in the title must be automatically infringing on the rights they hold for the music by the French musician Jean Michel Jarre with the same title.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Right …
Anyhow, I did a Google search for the name of the somebody who claimed ownership of material used in some of my videos. Matt Swoboda, the plaintiff, turns out to be Matt James Swoboda, better known in the scene as “Smash” of Fairlight, Razor 1911, Beam, Insanity, Shadow and a few others.
The two video(s) in question used 12 and 45 seconds of a demo from 2008 by Andromeda Software Development (ASD) & Fairlight & Alcatraz, titled “Realtime Generation” (watch demo on Demoscene.tv), where “Smash” actually was one of the guys who created it, thus his claim was not so far fetched and absurd. I don’t want to start debates about fair use and all this. I did use a fragment of the demo as back-drop for the intro of two of my amateurish videos with semi-professional background, but non-commercial use. In other words: I spent time on them and didn’t receive a penny for it myself.
The full videos in question are available for viewing online and also for download in AVI video format at the following URLs below (in the case that you would like to make up your own mind about the use of the demo material).
Anyhow, I do not intend to start a legal debate here, because that is not the reason why I blog this. My problem is the fact that a scener (Smash) filed an official copyright complaint against another scener, me, for something that could have been resolved quickly via a few emails, a phone or Skype call or chat instead. Since when did this become the means of communication in the scene? The time it took to prepare the official complaint was most likely more than the time it would have taken to check the background of the person behind the videos and to find the means to contact me. I did plaster the URLs to my web pages, including this one and all my other YouTube channels (including SACReleases) on the profile page of the YouTube account that hosted the videos in question (yeah, PAST TENSE is correct here, HOSTED).
Update/Addition: I just also recalled an incident at Dailymotion.com in January this year regarding the same material actually. There was a company called “Toei Animation” who claimed intellectual property ownership of one of the two videos. There was also no advanced email or anything, just a take down based on the claim by that company. I am unaware that anybody involved in the creation of the demo has any ties to that company and that they own anything of that demo.
Team Mates or Hates?
Gosh, Smash and I were even in the same group once, Razor 1911. Both words in “team mate” seemed to have lost their meaning at one point from what it looks like.
I believe that I found Smash’s LinkedIn profile and contacted him via the LinkedIn mail system (asking first, if the Matt Swoboda from the UK, is “my” Matt, who I am trying to get in touch with. A Finish scener with the name “Mandibular Joint Dysfunction” also contacted me via Facebook regarding this issue. He did not refer to the actual source of his information for me to check and follow up on, but I asked him to clarify where he heard of this “misunderstanding” (I hope that this is what it is).
The problem with those complaints in YouTube is that they don’t go away and that my one account is now in jeopardy of being suspended because of anything that might comes up. YouTube does not care, double check or listens to anybody than a lawyer who threatens with legal actions in writing. I know this from first hand experience, since I got myself already an account suspended once, because of some BS, which caused some major pain in the ass for me, hours and hours of work lost and the unpleasant experience of “talking to a hand” that completely ignores you.
So resolving this “misunderstanding” means for me also that the official copyright complaint (actually two, one for each of the two videos) will be retracted that YouTube will remove those from my account history. Here is how it looks right now. Not very pretty, isn’t it.
Here is the video recording of my two little intros that started all this trouble
Backup Link to Video at Motionbox.com
As you can see, I did some modifications to the original video recording of the PC demo to make it suit my own purposes. Could I given credits? Sure I could have, but I didn’t for several reasons. First, I didn’t know who did what to be able to give accurate credits (I am still not sure about this part).
Furthermore, I only used tiny fragments of the demo and distorted it with effects and content that I created in front of the original video. The 2nd place demo at the party where Realtime Generation won 3rd place did a homage to some well know PC demos as well and also did not properly credited those, but everybody knew which demos were depicted.
I didn’t give it another thought actually.
If you ask the question, how I would feel, if somebody would do the same with my art work, I’d say:
“No Problem” and I actually made that one clear publicly in 2006 with clarifications added to it in 2008.
Update/Addition: I’d say something, if somebody would rip off my stuff and actively run around claiming that he did it. Not saying anything does not mean making a claim. If you want to know if somebody did something himself, entirely, partially or not at all, ask and see what the answer is.
If credits are “forgotten” and the creator asks for them, I would be the last to deny it to him. It usually boils always down to the question where and how to put them, without having the credits taking over the actual piece or destroy the setting where it is in. I added additional credits to stuff where I missed them myself and also asked others to add credits to their stuff, not always myself, but credits to other artists as well.
Well, I hope that the the “Matt” at LinkedIn who I contacted is “my” “Smash” and that we will be able to sort things out. The LinkedIn profile says that he works at Sony now. Maybe he spent too much time “under some bad influence”. Sony’s approach to deal with copyright issues is not what I would call “consumer friendly” (I just say “root kit”, do a Google search for “Sony root kit”, if you don’t know what I am referring to).
We will see. I will write another post, if something comes out of this.
Carsten aka Roy/SAC
Update June 9, 2009.
Somebody pointed me via a comment here at my blog, to the original Pouet.net forum thread where it all started (the one “Mandibular” mentioned in his FB message). I joined the discussion there and addressed more comments than I probably should have, but then it wouldn’t be me I guess. Anyhow, the discussion seems to have shifted to over there. It’s already three pages long, but I hope that this will not scare you off from checking it out anyway. I hope that in all the BS that also seems to be part of the discussion there actually a resolution will be found that makes everybody happy again.
p.s. Also a message by Smaash (misspelled) turned up. It was sent via the contact form at Cumbrowski.com about one day before the videos were already taken down by YouTube. The message was unfortunately sorted away with all those messages about “link exchanges’“, “web development in India proposals” etc. and I didn’t get a chance to look at it in time (yeah, my main computer is still broken, I got a new main board, but now miss a power connector for the GFX card fan to the mother board. I was already checking at RadioShack and other stores, including a PC repair shop to get such stupid connector that fits, but nobody has this. I found something online, got that one shipped as well… and guess what, wrong size! Gosh, how many versions of a three pin cooler fan to mother board connector are there?
Gateway still gives a crap. I hope that they will be out of business soon too. Bastards.
Update June 18, 2009
I had some extensive email communication going with Smash and tried to elaborate the reasons for my rage and what I saw as the biggest problem with his actions. I thought that I made it already clear enough that I also admit that I made mistakes too. In case that it was not clear for somebody yet, here some quotes from my emails to Matt.
I admit my own mistake. It taught me the lesson that whatever you put anywhere online, publicly or or not public and not protected, will be out there for anybody to find, if you only look hard enough for it. In this case my experiments of the creation of a short video introduction (there are more of those by the way, nothing I would be particular be proud of, but once they are out there, there is nothing I could do about them now). It was used for something small and semi personal to get some feedback and along the way learn how to do things better (testing is one of the key elements in marketing that you cannot ignore or neglect, no studies in the world can replace actual tests) .
Where there was the discussion about it, I provided honest information about the source of the material and included references and credits. Then it was “over” and I moved on. However, the “pilot” or “test” did not disappear how it usually does in the offline world. If it happens online, it’s there virtually forever. I did not think about that somebody would even care about those experiments from yesterday, and certainly did not assume that somebody would have any issue with them.
My biggest mistake was to forget that it can look for somebody else completely different and all brand new, because that person just got exposed to it now and stuff in the digital world does not age or decay. It’s there, brand new, like on the day it was created. I also did not include ALL details related to every bit of the content, which gave room for miss-interpretations.
Matt understood the issue and said that he will try to retract the complaint at YouTube.com. That was 6 days ago on Friday June 12, 2009, but today Thursday, June 18, 2009 does it still show in my YouTube account the complaint and that my account is not in good standing.
I provided him with a lot of material regarding the copyright issue on the Internet, including some very bad examples where it is clear that the system is completely messed up and a harm to society in general. I hope that he now also understands my rage about the way he acted on the problem.
He is surely not a large corporation like Sony and just an individual like, but he unfortunately acted like a big corporation and used by extension another big corporation (Google) to get things his way. I believe that he was not aware that the corporate system in place today is truly against individuals and often creates significant collateral damage and overall more harm than good.
I also asked him for his advice regarding Pouet.net. I am still undecided, if I should post once more to apologize to the folks who I gave credits for comments that they did not make or if I should just let it be the way it is. My error was pretty obvious (afterwards) and I also was consistent with it, so folks should have been able to figure it out. I did not get a response regarding that from Mark as well. It is kind of odd, because he usually responded within less than 24 hours to my emails, until Friday.
I will send him another email about this blog update. The matter is still not completely resolved, because the main issue for me is still there and that is the note in my YouTube account.
Update July 14, 2009 and Conclusion
Matt hold true to his word and also be able to get through to somebody at Google to retract the Copyright complaint as promised. I Just check my YouTube account today to see, if anything changed and yes, the Warning is gone and the status shows “Good Standing” again. Phew… I think that this could have been resolved much easier and without creating as much headaches, but then I believe that everybody involved in this mess, learned some valuable lessons for the future.