The Joys of Free Music

One might think is is simple to record music and distribute it for free online, but there are companies that work against people who do this.

Recently, I was sent a round-up of a very nicely organized pile of issues. You can check it out here: (Thanks, Leo!)

I have issues with everyone on this list. But let me take just one of them, and explain exactly why they are a pain: The Harry Fox Agency.
These guys are amazing. They have entered a giant pile of public domain compositions into YouTube’s ContentID database. Not recordings (which are still under copyright) but compositions – some of which date back 300 years or more. Do they have the rights to do this? Not by any laws I’ve ever seen. Why does YouTube allow them to claim ownership of compositions written hundreds of years ago? I have no idea.

According to Leo’s list (linked above), they will (through their own inaction) eventually release the claims that are placed on videos uploaded to YouTube if you contest them, so I guess that is ‘good’.

What The Harry Fox Agency should do is remove all claims to music in the Public Domain, and refund all of the money they earned on those claims to the people who uploaded the videos.

There is a notable absence on this list: The Orchard Music. This company had erroneously claimed an large number of videos that used my music. I contacted them many times to remove the bad assets from the ContentID database. Well, they didn’t actually do that at first – but they did release the claims on all of the videos that I found.

So I did some more research, and provided them with over 100 falsely claimed videos (and zero correctly claimed videos). They eventually removed the bad asset from the ContentID database. They kept all of the money from the false claims, but persistence can pay off! :-)

The sad note on this is… after all of those false claims were cleared up, Harry Fox came in and laid claim to those videos.

So if you work for Harry Fox, or know someone who does, I would love to talk to you about how it is possible to claim ownership to Public Domain compositions.


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