Archie vs. Pulp: Common People (Again)

This entry was published at least two years ago (originally posted on April 23, 2009). Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed (in general, assume a more open and liberal current viewpoint). A fuller disclaimer is available.

Slightly over a year ago, I found an inspired bit of silliness which replaced the text from an old Archie comic with lyrics from Pulp’s “Common People.” Deciding to continue the silliness, I used iMovie to put the audio of Pulp’s song under some simple ‘animation’ of the altered comic panels, and uploaded the end result to YouTube. At the time I did this, YouTube’s draconian audio scrubber that the music groups use to try to assure that we only listen to and enjoy music in ways that they approve of told me this:

Dear Member:

This is to notify you that your video Archie vs. Pulp: Common People has been identified as containing content that may be owned by someone else. The material identified in your video, the person claiming ownership of the material, and the policy they have designated for its use on YouTube are detailed below.

Material Copyright Holder Policy Countries
Audio from PULP-COMMON PEOPLE UMG Allow Everywhere

If the policy listed is “Allow,” you do not need to take action.

All seemed fine — though the song had been recognized and flagged, UMG had an ‘allow everywhere’ policy, so the video was fine. I thought that was nice, and thanked them in my blog post and on the YouTube page.

Apparently something has changed at UMG, and they’ve decided that graciously allowing fans to use bits of their artist’s music in projects like this isn’t kosher, because this morning I got a somewhat innocuous sounding email from YouTube…

Your video, Archie vs. Pulp: Common People, may have content that is owned or licensed by WMG.

No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.

…which didn’t sound too horrid. My video “may have content” they own, “no action is required,” if I want to know how this affects my video, etc. Well, sure I wanted to know how this affected my video, so I went to YouTube, and found out that this affected my video quite a lot: it doesn’t exist anymore.

Your video, Archie vs. Pulp: Common People, may have audio content from COMMON PEOPLE by PULP that is owned or licensed by UMG.

As a result, your video is blocked worldwide.

What should I do?

Use AudioSwap to replace the audio in your video with a track from our library of prelicensed songs. After you swap, your video will be available globally.

Under certain circumstances, you may dispute the copyright claim from UMG. These may be any of the following:

  1. the content is mistakenly identified and is actually completely your original creation;
  2. you believe your use does not infringe copyright (e.g. it is fair use under US law);
  3. you are actually licensed by the owner to use this content.

Great. So I can replace the audio with different music — which wouldn’t exactly make sense — or I can enter the dispute process and try to convince someone that my use is Fair Use. I believe it is, but I’m guessing I’d probably end up on the losing end of that conversation.

And, of course, I don’t have the original iMovie file, so I can’t re-export the video to find some other way of hosting it.


When I loaded my blog post, it seems that the block wasn’t totally implemented yet, as the embedded version of the video was still active (though I don’t expect this to last very long). After switching the video to High Quality to make sure the best possible version was downloaded to my computer for playback, a little bit of digging into Safari 4’s Web Inspector gave me the Google Cache URL of the video.mp4 file. A quick copy-and-paste of that URL into Safari’s URL bar, and a few moments later, the video file was sitting in my Downloads folder.

So, once again, after an upload to my webserver and through the magic of self-hosting, the video lives!

[flashvideo file=files/2009/04/archiepulp.mp4 /]

As before, credit where credit is due: