This article is more than 1 year old

YOU. Your women are mine. Give them to me. I want to sell them

YouTube's copyright killjoy bots amok

Something for the Weekend, Sir? A friend of mine had his wife stolen three times this week. The first two times, they gave her back within hours. On the third occasion, however, they seemed determined to hold on to her for a month.

This is the risk you take if you insist on uploading your wife to YouTube.

I’d better explain. Be prepared for a sorry tale of sex, lies, videotape and attempted copyright theft. Are you sitting comfortably? No, I mean it: are you feeling relaxed? Reeeeaaally relaaaxed? Lean back and let Doctor D administer the treatment. The room is warm, the furnishings are soft and you feel all cosy. A joss-stick is fizzling away in the corner. Here, let me ease you down with a shoulder rub. And might I gently massage your forehead?

I said forehead. Oh for heaven’s sake, you guys.

The name of the relaxation game these days is autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), a little psychological trick to make your brain feel all gooey. Science hasn’t yet determined whether it’s real or a fad, but the idea is that certain sounds and/or visuals can trigger a nice tingling feeling, most typically in your head.

For example, you might not need a shoulder rub to relax: merely the thought of having your shoulders massaged, watching a massage video tutorial or listening to a soft voice describing the massage might be enough to trigger the response. Add some soft music and some slow-moving background visuals, and it’s supposedly enough to send even chronic insomniacs to sleep in no time.

Of course, a One Direction video could also send you to sleep very effectively but then you wouldn’t get any sensation of pleasure. Instead, you’d drift off wishing you were dead.

Now this friend of mine and his wife – both scarily smart but, y’know, a bit kuh-razy in their down time – were larking about with some recording equipment and video-editing software, and thought it might be a laugh to see if they could produce some ASMR material. Faster than you could knead a knuckle into the back of a neck, they bashed out a few short-and-cute psychedelic video samples and uploaded them to YouTube.

The next thing they know, YouTube has slapped them with an official notification that a company has claimed the copyright on their video. Er, what?

More specifically, a company representing another bunch of creative types had decided that my friends – let’s just call them "David" and "Heidi" to protect their identity – had nicked their content in the production of their ASMR videos. This came as quite a surprise, since these videos were composed of Heidi’s unique vocal talents set to original, random computerised backgrounds produced on the fly by David using Final Cut Pro X animation generators.

Compare for yourself. Here’s their ASMR experiment:

Youtube Video

Yeah, I know, kuh-razy, I did warn you. It’s an acquired taste, of course, and it’s funnier when you know the people concerned. Anyway, the copyright claimant believed my friends had created their sensory experience by stealing from this tiresome bunch of music video nonentities:

Youtube Video

One video concerns a woman talking over an animation of bubbles; the other is a song with a cheap-looking studio video of some women prancing around in alien gray costumes they’d bought from a cheap fancy dress shop. And the similarities are…?

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