My First Copyright Infringement Story

Hi All !

So in my last post I mentioned that there were low moments in the last couple of weeks as well as the high Beyoncé henna moments.  I guess it’s true to say that good can’t come without the bad.  A couple of days after the Coldplay video came out, I got a message from my friend, Amirah (YouTuber: Beleza Artistica), informing me that a YouTube account had uploaded one of my videos on their channel.  I immediately went to take a look and I was pretty shocked, not because I didn’t expect this to happen at some point, but because seeing it in reality for the first time has a definite effect … you know, such as the loss in faith in human decency.

This channel had uploaded my most popular YouTube video onto their account (“white henna design for beginners”: https://youtu.be/tmlYGk1eUQQ ); but they hadn’t just done that.  They also changed my royalty free background music to a copyrighted track, before uploading the video onto their account – twice – and then monetising.  There was nothing unintentional about this especially when you consider the actions required to get my video re-uploaded with a different track in the first place.  There is no way, in my opinion, that anyone would have gone through that process thinking – yep, I’m doing absolutely nothing wrong.

Copyright © 2016 Shahema Tafader

Screenshot of the first account to infringe my copyright | Copyright © 2016 Shahema Tafader

Naturally, the first thing I did was issue a copyright infringement notice with YouTube, which is technically the start of the legal process.  I also left a message asking them to remove the video before YouTube does it for them (a courtesy on my part which they did not deserve, because it would allow the account holder to avoid a copyright strike on their account by removing it before YouTube notices).  I received no response from this channel owner, but it didn’t matter, because within hours YouTube had removed the videos.

The next day my instinct took over and I felt the need to do a simple search on YouTube for beginners’ henna designs.  Sure enough, on the first page of the results there was a video tutorial of one of my most favourite henna designs.  This user had recreated my henna design, which I already had a YouTube tutorial on, and then uploaded the design on their channel as their own.  This video had 4,000 more views than mine did, which naturally would have taken away from the views on my own video.

Second infringement by another henna artist and YouTuber !  Copyright © 2016 Shahema Tafader

Screenshot of the second infringement by another henna artist and YouTuber ! Copyright © 2016 Shahema Tafader

This copyright infringement was so much worse though because, firstly, the YouTuber was a henna artist who had about 27,000 subscribers compared to my measly 1,500.  I’d imagine that if you are a content creator, that you would understand how wrong it is to infringe copyright, especially like that, because the same could easily happen to you.  Secondly, this user didn’t just re-upload my video, which would have made it easier to identify a copyright infringement simply by comparing the videos; instead she recreated my design on her hand and then uploaded it as a video.  The description under the tutorial stated that the video had a pretty heart henna design … with no mention of me whatsoever.  As far as I’m concerned, her actions were completely intentional.

Again, I immediately issued a copyright infringement notice through YouTube and – courtesy that she did not deserve – left a message asking her to remove the video as it infringed my copyright.  Within a couple of hours she removed the video before YouTube could see it. … If I’m honest with you, I had half a mind to not let her know that I had issued the notice, that way YouTube would see the video, will remove it and will add a strike on her account. … On this occasion, however, I chose not to; but I will be keeping an eye on this account !

I think it’s fair to say that I have officially begun to make headway with this YouTube business, because as terrible as it is to have someone claim your design as their own and then earn money off of it, it’s also a sign that I’m doing something right.

If I can give any advice from this experience I will say that you should never – ever – be afraid of another infringing your copyright, because this is one of the major reasons why people don’t share their work online !  If, however, you don’t share your work then you won’t get the recognition you deserve for your talent and your business will not thrive as well as it could.  It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t decision, so if you’re damned either way – you may as well share your work ;-p !

The second advice I will give is, use whatever medium you have to issue a complaint against the person who has infringed your copyright.  Do this before giving the person notice to remove the infringing material, because often this person will block you if you complain against them, making it harder for you to get the work taken down.  If you’re on Instagram, that would mean reporting the person by clicking on the three dots on the bottom right hand corner of the picture.  On YouTube, that means filling in this complaints form here: https://www.youtube.com/copyright_complaint_form .

I hope this blog post will have helped you in some way even though, if anything, it was more a rant on my part.  Please comment below what you would have done in my position, I would love to know how you would have handled these situations !

So that’s it – thank you for reading and I will speak to you next time …

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