The claims process is really messed up on YouTube; we can all agree on that. There are countless stories out there that prove that as fact. However, Adam Neely has a claim story involving Warner Chappell that is very unique.
A couple of months ago, Neely made a video defending Katy Perry and Warner Music who were in a lawsuit filed against the song “Dark Horse.” The lawsuit alleged the song infringed Flame’s song “Joyful Noise.” In the video, Neely argued why, in his own words, the lawsuit was “absolute garbage.”
“There’s a similar, but not the same melodic ostinato that is that is shared between the two songs,” Nelly says. “However, because the melody is so simple and so short you can find similarities between any number of different songs.” Basically, the lawsuit made no sense because the melody was so simple; there’s countless numbers of examples of songs using similar melodies.
Despite his support, Warner Chappell still copyright claimed Neely’s video
Neely’s video quickly became viral, racking up millions of views, allowing him to talk on new outlets about his support for Warner and Perry in the lawsuit. Though Warner ended up losing the lawsuit battle, this didn’t stop them from abusing YouTube’s messy claims system. Warner Chappel, even after losing the lawsuit battle of the rights of the melody, claimed all the revenue from Warner’s video because he used ‘their’ melody from “Dark Horse” in his video.
It’s not just crazy that Warner Chappell claimed the video after losing the rights to the melody in court. Neely was also using the melody under fair use. He clearly was analyzing and commenting on the melody, which falls under fair use. Now you might think this is just one of those automated mistakes YouTube is notorious for. YouTube’s algorithm automatically throws claims on content it thinks is using copyright material. However, it was manually claimed by someone at Warner Chappell.
Neely wins in the end
We are happy to report that in the end, Neely’s claim was lifted. Still though, this is one of the many examples where YouTube’s claims system isn’t working. A company that legally doesn’t hold the rights to a melody was able to manually claim the ad revenue from a video using the melody under fair use. While in the end, Neely was able to get the claim lifted, it is a long and tiring process. Also, it might have turned out differently for creators not as big as Neely. It is a system YouTube really needs to fix so this kind of claiming isn’t possible.