YouTube Mutes (Some) Copyrighted Music

    January 14, 2009

If you happen to come across some silent YouTube videos today, there’s no need to start investigating your speaker settings and browser defaults.  It seems that the "problem" is on YouTube’s end; the site’s owners have chosen to mute certain clips as a way of dealing with copyright violations.

Look beneath affected videos, and you’ll see the short, simple, official explanation: "This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by all copyright holders.  The audio has been disabled."  Google’s no doubt hoping this step will allow it to avoid lawsuits and expensive payouts, and it does seem like a logical enough solution. 

YouTube Muted

Look even lower on the pages, though, and you’ll be able to read outraged comments from any number of users.  Some rail against the RIAA; some criticize YouTube.  Others go straight to suggesting possible solutions, and these include visiting other video-sharing sites or turning to things like Limewire and the Pirate Bay.

Still, it appears that YouTube hasn’t gone all-out with this answer to the copyright problem, since it’s far easier to find videos that haven’t been muted than ones that have.  Stan Schroeder provided a link to "Laundromat Blues" by Albert King if you’re looking for an example of a clip that was hit.

We’ll try to monitor whether the muting experiment – and the backlash to it – spreads or dies in the weeks ahead.