Rin on the Rox - YouTube account suspended - copyright breaches
Rin on the Rox - Ellen Show favourite has YouTube account suspended
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They're a young, very talented pair of girls who found fame singing in
their bathroom (great acoustics). Their YouTube account received millions of hits, and that was even
before the Ellen Show, hosted by talk show
queen Ellen DeGeneres, took notice and invited them on her
Their fame spread, and Ellen helped it along even more by inviting them to
report for her show on a couple of high profile media events, including the
Grammys. Customers at their "day job" in the food service industry made things
even more interesting by continually asking for autographs.
Things hit a bump in the road when all of a sudden their popular YouTube account
was unceremoniously removed - suspended. Why? Quite simply, copyright
infringement. To the many fans of Rin on the Rox, two Californian girls of
Filipino descent named Erin and Roxanne, this is a tragedy and has prompted an outcry.
What the fans fail to understand is that YouTube may well have had their hands
tied. All of the songs Rin on the Rox sang (very well I might add) on their YouTube channel
used karaoke styled backing tracks - so not only are the lyrics copyrighted, the
music is as well. Any one of the record companies or even the artists
themselves may have made an official complaint to YouTube, whose Terms of
Service are quite clear - you MUST own the copyright to the content in your
video, or have the permission of the copyright owner.
When a public performance
of a song that belongs to someone else occurs, usually there are royalties to be
paid - regardless of the reasons for the performance. And, after millions of
hits, one could hardly argue Rin on the Rox were not public performances!
YouTube may well have taken the action themselves to make this point loud and
clear, however it is more likely they received a complaint after the very
popular Ellen show not only played one of their videos (more than once), but
invited them on the show to sing live - again to a backing track.
Some of their "influences" are Leona Lewis, Rihanna, Beyonce,
Alicia Keys, and
more - and YouTube is one thing, but appearing on an internationally syndicated
television show with a daily audience in the tens of millions, is another.
Implications for other YouTube users
What are the implications here? It's nothing new - the Terms of Service
have been in place for a long time. Anyone who uses copyrighted material in
their YouTube video could potentially have their account suspended without
notice. Interestingly, at the time of writing this article, the YouTube Terms of Service were unavailable.
Does your video feature any of the following:
You singing along to your favourite artist's backing track?
Your video has copyrighted music playing in the background?
You've uploaded your favourite artist's live performance?
You've uploaded a recent episode of a TV show just in case anyone has missed it?
There are many more potential breaches, however, if you take their Terms of
Service to the letter, you would not upload any video that you didn't film
yourself - and if it has music in the background, it must be royalty free. The
exception is if you have the copyright owner's permission. For example, in some
cases Network Ten (Australia) permits people to upload their content, with the
caveat that the videos may be removed at a later date, or display ads whilst
An intellectual property lawyer comments
Sydney intellectual property lawyer,
Noric Dilanchian, says: "The Rin on the Rox copyright breach story illustrates a
legal issue which is of growing significance online and in law in Australia and
"There are several separate but related developments. For example you have the
ongoing billion dollar U.S. litigation by Viacom against Google's YouTube due to
the uploading of Viacom videos onto YouTube. Viacom owns MTV.
its prior terms in response to significant criticism online.
"To take a professional, serious or commercial approach," says Noric Dilanchian,
"ask questions such as these:
1. what am I seeking to achieve by sharing my video online?
2. what copyright items are in my video (eg audio, music, video clip, graphics)
and what rights or permission do I have for them?
3. what other potential legal issue could affect my video's survival online, eg
breach of privacy or confidentiality?
6. how much time, energy and money will I invest prior to getting serious about
the intellectual property of myself and others?
"From Ray Charles to James Brown to David Bowie and onwards we have performers
in music who have taken their own copyright seriously and built
a fortune on it. What is needed is a legally-informed right approach."
What can you about it?
Not very much - if YouTube (or copyright owners) decide to use a big stick, you
don't really have any recourse. That is, unless you can obtain the copyright
owner's permission. Good luck getting that permission from a big TV network, or
Beyonce, Rhianna, Katy Perry, or anyone else for that matter.
The amazing (yet not surprising) result is a ground swell of support from fans
of Rin on the Rox. Other YouTube accounts now show some of their videos,
so one has to ponder why these accounts are not suspended.
could be because their channels contain many other non-Rin on the Rox
videos, or it could simply be they are not perceived as a "threat" to artists
and are therefore tolerated. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear - these two
talented girls should enjoy a great future in the music industry, all thanks to
YouTube and The Ellen Show.
want to support the girls in their quest to have their YouTube channel
reinstated, please visit their MySpace page:
UPDATE (April 2009): exclusive preview
Visit the Rin on the Rox page to hear an exclusive preview of their new single, "Torture".
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