Copyright and Communication

Posted on by Larry

This week a vigilant member of our Final Cut Pro community alerted me to a video on YouTube that he thought might be mine – but wasn’t on my site. I clicked the link and went directly to a recently created YouTube channel, that was, in fact, displaying one of my video tutorials as their own. In an effort to hide the tutorial’s identity, the channel owner had cut off my introduction and failed to acknowledge my work. Worse, they had pirated 87 more of my videos, and given them the same treatment! He was promoting them, not as my work, but as his own.

I try to make my materials as widely available as possible, many at no cost. But that doesn’t mean I have given up ownership. Also, some of the videos they had posted were ones that I offer for sale in my store. By him distributing them for free, this deprived me and my company of income.

Piracy, I know, affects all of us. But, this isn’t a rant on piracy, its an illustration of what we did.

Laura, in my office, immediately set to work to figure out how to get the videos taken down. She looked at the YouTube Copyright Infringement instructions. YouTube requires a detailed form to be submitted for EACH infringed video. This presents an almost insurmountable burden when dozens of videos are involved. Laura realized that it would take hours to prepare one form for each of the 88 videos. So, while she pondered a legal solution, she took the path of least resistance and sent a direct message to the channel owner requesting that he remove all 88 videos immediately, and explaining why.

To our amazement, the channel owner complied immediately! All 88 videos were removed and he put up his own Final Cut training.

Several morals apply to this story. One is that polite, direct contact from one person to another is the most efficient means of effective communication. Two is a reminder to everyone that when you make copyrighted material available for free, or download a program from a source like Pirate Bay without paying for it, you are depriving someone of an income, and possibly someone from having a job. As a small business owner the majority of my income comes from the tutorials I sell in my store. I depend on this income to support my company. I love doing my work, but I also love paying my team and my mortgage, with a bit left over to create new products. I can’t do that when items that I sell get distributed for free.

My situation is not unique. All of us work hard to create good products. Sometimes those products get ripped off, which is really demoralizing. But, sometimes, when you ask nicely, these problems can be fixed.

I’ve decided to call that a reason for hope.


9 Responses to Copyright and Communication

  1. Patrick says:

    I agree with you.

    But be prepared for an onslaught from pirates. The main argument they will make will be against your statement: “when you make copyrighted material available for free, or download a program from a source like Pirate Bay without paying for it, you are depriving someone of an income”.

    They will come after you with pitchforks and foaming mouths, claiming that people don’t lose money due to piracy, that in fact piracy increases the income of the person the material was taken from (as the increased exposure leads to more sales).

    • Larry says:

      Yeah, I’m somewhat skeptical of the “piracy increases your sales through visibility” line…. When I ask my students how many of them buy a piece of music after getting it for free, very, very few of them raise their hands.

      Obviously, this means that my students never get their music from pirate sites.

  2. Patrick says:

    One other thing – I’m suspicious (not of you) that the violator had a set of his own training ready as a backup. If he had already produced that, why use yours without attribution?

    It’s possible that his new set of training is also taken without attribution from someone else. Possibly he just recorded their words in his voice over their video.

  3. Rob Moragas says:


    Re “having to write 88 forms to get the videos taken down.” You would only have to submit 3, as once the person in question has received 3 warning violations for copyright, his account would be closed by Youtube.


  4. Rob Moragas says:

    Piracy of any kind only increases sales when the product goes viral from my experience or at least when u are getting thousands of viewers.

    When it comes to software I have often used trial or extended the trial 🙂 just to see if it is really worth having. Then purchase it.

    My philosophy is that computers and hard drives fail. So owning software or music is the way to go and I think many have realised this when losing years of music. How many times have you heard. I lost my ipod, drive , computer etc and thats the only place I have it. Just some have to learn the hard way. Gordon Gecko is wrong 🙂


  5. Todd says:

    Terrific article. Thanks, Larry.

    I’m working on a version of the same issue, but maybe from another side. I develop education programs for emerging and high tech subjects. Maybe it’s my plodding educator attitude, but it’s taken me quite a while to figure out that a lot of the best teaching in the world (a LOT) is now “in the cloud” (YouTube, SlideShare, podcasts, etc.).

    Thanks for your clarity here about the true issues involved: attribution, integrity of the content itself, and decent ethics.

    I’d like to think we could take it one step further and actually figure out how to integrate great “cloud-based” teaching into a course structure (much like our fourth grade teachers did with film strips, I suppose). The key issue seems to be making sure the original content provider not only gets credit, but to figure out a way to enhance visibility – and income – while honoring the provider’s content and brand.

    YouTube et al uncouple great learning from the “course,” per se. Maybe this is a way of doing the reverse: Uncoupling content from the course process, and distributing the benefits fairly.

  6. Just a clarification on YouTube’s policy; it used to be that three take down notices and they would discontinue an account. They have slightly modified their policies, and now they are more flexible in the way they treat transgressors.

    Still, three take down notices should be enough to have an effect:

  7. Sarah Larsson says:

    If I can’t get the media I want in the form I want it, I pirate it. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes the media it’s available on isn’t worth the cost (nature, shipping and my personal space).

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