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The Moon

UMG Has Copyrighted The Moon (Or Was It Facebook?)

(Alex Andrews)
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(Hypebot) — Citizens of the earth have historically enjoyed unfettered access to the moon, albeit from afar, but a new copyright claim by Universal Music Group of a video (notably devoid of audio) of everyone’s favorite lunar entity calls this into question…

Op-ed by Timothy Geigner of Techdirt

[Hypebot Editor’s Note: Others are placing blame on Facebook. See an update at the end.]

We have seen and covered a great many ridiculous copyright issues here at Techdirt. It is, after all, sort of our thing. Still, some attempts at enforcing copyrights are so ludicrous that they take your breath away. Now, granted, often times the most egregious of these stories arise out of the use of automated bot systems that troll all the places for copyright infringement and often times get it completely wrong. But that isn’t so much an excuse for those situations as it is a spotlight on how brutally terrible the current iteration of copyright enforcement has become and how despicable it is that the wider copyright industries just shrug their shoulders at all the collateral damage they cause.

And then there’s the moon. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “The moon? Is Timothy having another stroke while writing a post?” First off, my personal health is none of your concern. And secondly, nope, because a video recording of the moon as seen from Greece, which included no audio, was blocked all over the place due to a copyright claim made by Universal Music Group.

British filmmaker Philip Bloom recently filmed the Moon during sunset Skiathos in Greece. After sharing it on social media, he was surprised when the video was blocked due to a claim by Universal Music Group, which claimed copyright to the generic shots of the Moon. Here’s the audio-less video that Bloom shared to his personal Facebook account while on his holiday:

Yup, that’s it. So, how did this get flagged for copyright by UMG? Well, according to the block notification, UMG says the video contains “30 seconds of video owned by UMG”. How? Well, who the hell knows. If I had to guess, I would speculate that there is some music video out there or something that also contains footage of the moon and that somehow has resulted in an automated system flagging this video of the moon as copyrighted content.

But, just so everyone is clear, UMG does not actually own footage of our nearest celestial neighbor. The person who filmed the footage, filmmaker Philip Bloom, is understandably not pleased.

“I uploaded some shots of the moon to Facebook late last year shot with the Canon R5 but it was a 2/3rds moon,” Bloom tells PetaPixel. “It looks like their AI is looking for full moon shots.”

Bloom then filed a dispute against the copyright infringement block, explaining to Facebook: “It’s a shot of the moon I personally filmed tonight!!! UMG doesn’t own the moon!”

But because, again, the way copyrights are enforced currently is a goddamned nightmare, the footage is still offline for those social media channels in all those countries while Bloom is going through the appeals process. And it’s very much worth considering that this isn’t an isolated case, either.

Bloom says that after he shared about what happened on social media, one of his followers shared that the exact same thing happened to them.

And so here we are. During the appeals process for Facebook at least, it appears that the assumed state of things is such that UMG owns the copyright on footage of the moon. If the fact that the setup of the DMCA and our enforcement of it allows this result makes any sense at all to you, then perhaps you’d be better off living on UMG’s moon.


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