Cat fights with record labels for rights to its own purr, after YouTube copyright dispute

Complaint has now been lifted — but not after wrangling by the cat

A cat has been locked in a copyright dispute with two of the world’s biggest music rights companies.

The dispute arose after the owner of the cat, who is called Phantom, posted a video of it purring. YouTube’s automatic system for recognising copyright infringement flagged the purr as potentially being stolen — the automated system thought that the sound was owned by EMI Recording and PRS, so the video was locked and no money would be paid to its owner.

The automatic system is similar to that used by YouTube to spot pornographic videos — which also sometimes goes wrong. It emerged this week that porn films had been hidden on the site by using Irish language titles.

YouTube’s system is built to look for evidence of copyright infringement, and stop people making money from uploading other people’s songs and films. The automated program scans videos and matches their soundtracks to existing songs — if they’re too similar to something on its database, it stops uploaders from making money from the posts.

But the process can sometimes go wrong, accidentally flagging posts that aren’t infringing as doing so. That happened when user Digihaven uploaded the video of Phantom the cat, which featured one hour of video loops of the cat purring.

Nearly a year after it went up, Dighaven was told that the sound was infringing copyright, according to TorrentFreak. The video wasn’t taken down, but Digihaven was no longer paid for views on the video.

“I’m sure EMI/PRS made Phantom a sad kitty,” the user told TorrentFreak. “It seems like companies such as EMI are pirating ads on people’s legit videos, so I’m wondering if they apologize to, or reimburse people for those false claims.”

Digihaven filed a dispute. That seems to have worked and EMI has lifted its claim to the video.

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