Confirming reports that cropped up today about how YouTube handles copyrighted music, the site has clarified its policy with a blog post. The issue came to the fore when YouTube watchers noticed videos that had no audio, and were accompanied by a warning that read “This video contains an audio track that has not been authorised by all copyright holders. The audio has been disabled.”
Music is a contentious issue on the Google-owned (s GOOG) video site, as demonstrated when Warner Music Group music videos were pulled off the site after licensing negotiations broke down. Wired Epicenter points out that the muted videos in question feature music from Warner artists.
YouTube explained in its blog post that the muting occurs when a copyright holder claims that a video uses its music illegally. The uploader now has the option to take out the music and leave the video up.
Previously, when a music label or other rights owner issued a copyright claim to block audio, the video was automatically taken down. Uploaders had two choices: dispute the claim or use our AudioSwap tool to replace the track with one from our library of pre-cleared music. Now we’ve added an additional choice. Instead of automatically removing the video from YouTube, users can choose to leave the video muted and live on the site, and many of them are taking that option.
This makes me wonder if YouTube could introduce something similar to selectively block images of copyrighted logos and the like. Hopefully they can mock up some cute “censored” graphics.