You’ll almost certainly know by now that US ‘axe-hero’ Joe Satriani is suing Coldplay for plagiarism. He claims that Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’ (an EMI recording) stole from his 2004 track ‘If I Could Fly’ (a Sony recording). This was becoming a PR disaster for Coldplay and a couple of videos on YouTube comparing the two songs were each getting a couple of million views. In short the controversy was generating a lot of online buzz. Some commentators were advising that Coldplay should kick their PR machinery into action.
Well it looks like that advice has been heeded. As of today those videos on YouTube comparing the two songs (and other similar ones) have been removed, in their place is the following message
This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by EMI Music
Because YouTube has licensing relationships with the labels it has to be sensitive and responsive to their requests. It looks like copyright infringement has been used here as a pretext for removing an awkward embarrassment. Indeed a quick search finds other non-official copies of ‘Viva La Vida’ available for viewing, some (such as this one) with nearly 1 million views i.e. videos that are infringing copyright on the same song but not including reference to the Satriani controversy. It’s somewhat ironic that copyright infringement has been used as the reason for pulling a video that discusses a copyright infringement controversy.
But this isn’t the first time the ‘copyright claim’ has been used to cover up YouTube embarrassments. Back in July 2007 Beyonce Knowles took a dramatic tumble at a gig and mobile phone video footage spread like wild fire on YouTube. In a desperate bid to airbrush out history SonyBMG got all the offending videos pulled, under the cover of the same ‘copyright violation’ tactic EMI have used here. Similarly as now, plenty of other bootleg Beyonce live footage, some from the same gig, remained untouched.
What I said in my post at the time about Beyonce’s fall applies here also:
“What I find particularly interesting about this though is the fact that it is YouTube’s close ties with the record labels that has resulted in them filtering out the footage. To much of its audience this will feel like police-state style censorship and the curious will look elsewhere. Perhaps this an early sign that YouTube is becoming too closely aligned with ‘the establishment’ for ‘the kids’?”
And finally, if you want to judge on the Satriani / Coldplay controversy for yourself, here are YouTibe clips of both songs. For ‘If I Could Fly’ move in 50 seconds and you’ll hear the part in question.
What do you think?