Does Storyblocks License Supersedes Creative Commons License?

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

On my YouTube channel, there are two types of videos that get copyright claims I can do nothing about.

  • Copyrighted music at public events
  • Videos I make on purpose with copyrighted music

A copyright claim allows a collection agency — a third-party working on behalf of a copyright owner — to collect ad revenues from videos with copyrighted music.

A third type of video that sometimes get copyright claims are the videos that I make with Creative Commons music. I always appeal to release the copyright claim on these videos.

Creative Commons is an irrevocable license. If a musician signs a label deal, their new licensing doesn’t affect my usage of the music under the Creative Commons license.

The relevant part of the license is this: “The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.”

When I cite that line in a appeal, the collection agency releases the copyright claim within hours or a few days.

A recent copyright claim on the behalf of Storyblocks took a bit more effort to resolve because they tried to assert their licensing over the Creative Commons licensing. That was unacceptable.

Once a week, I check to see how many videos I have on my channel with copyright claims. That number should be an even dozen, at the time of this writing. I noticed a new addition to the list.

Copyright Claim List Image by C.D. Reimer

My “Black Friday 2019 @ Fry’s Electronics (Campbell, CA)” video had a copyright claim on it. The video used the song, “I Gave You A Flower” by Le Gang, under the Creative Commons license.

Copyright Claim Info — Image by C.D. Reimer

This copyright claim was for the song, “I Gave You A Flower” by Ken Berglund, by HAAWK on the behalf of Storyblocks. Let’s break that down.

  • Same song title but different musician names, probably the same person.
  • HAAWK is a third-party rights manager (a.k.a., collection agency).
  • Storyblocks provides stock content for a monthly fee.

I appealed the copyright claim by citing the Creative Commons license.

After the first 24 hours, I wondered if HAAWK would let the clock run out on my appeal. If the collection agency doesn’t respond in 30 days, both the appeal and the copyright claim expire. Meanwhile, the collection agency collects the ad revenue for “considering” the appeal.

HAAWK rejected my appeal on the second day.

According to the email from YouTube: “The reason you gave for disputing the claim may have been insufficient or invalid.”

Storyblocks doesn’t have an email address or contact form on their website. They have a message bot instead. After playing message tag with the bot, I got two solutions for resolving the copyright claim.

  • Become a paid customer to get my YouTube channel ID whitelisted for Storyblocks licensed content.
  • Appeal the copyright claim with the following note: “I purchased this audio from Storyblocks Audio and received a commercial license to use their content.”

Both solutions require that I acknowledge the Storybooks license as superseding the Creative Commons license. That’s unacceptable.

While I was playing message tag with the bot, I tweeted my progress out to Twitter. Companies with message bots on their websites tend to ignore anyone asking for help. But they generally don’t ignore a squeaky tweet on Twitter.

I got this tweeted response from Storyblocks:

Storyblocks reply to cdreimer tweet: “Hey there — we are sorry to hear about this inconvenience. We know how frustrating YouTube licensing issues can be. Please email support@storyblocks.com and we can try and walk you through some solutions.”

As I told Jason (who may or may not be a bot), I found those solutions unacceptable. He instructed me to email the video URL and a screenshot of the copyright claim.

I emailed the video URL, the Creative Commons license attribution text for the music, and the screenshot that highlighted that this was their copyright claim.

That squared away things for Storyblocks. HAAWK released the copyright claim two days later.

How would I handle a Storyblocks copyright claim in the future?

For the appeal, I would add this line: “If you don’t release this copyright claim, I’ll contact Storyblocks support to release the copyright claim.”

If that doesn’t work, I’ll send the video URL, the Creative Commons license attribution text for the music, and the highlighted copyright claim screenshot to support@storyblocks.com.

Either way, the copyright claim comes off of my YouTube video.

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C.D. Reimer

C.D. Reimer

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C.D. Reimer makes topical videos about comic cons, pop culture, Silicon Valley and technology on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/cdreimer