Audio copyright: Who wins in a fight between Audioboom and Soundcloud?


Last week Nieman Labs reported on audio hosting service SoundCloud‘s ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach to content containing copyrighted material:

“If your content contains any copyrighted material to which you haven’t secured the rights — even if you have a valid fair use claim — SoundCloud may take it down at any time.”

The story came from a podcast hosted — you guessed it — on SoundCloud (also embedded below). It suggested that even if you are adhering to local laws, laws in other countries may trump those. An appeal under US fair use exemptions brought this response from SoundCloud:

“We understand that US copyright law includes a doctrine of fair use. However, these rules are limited, difficult to apply outside of a court of law, and in any event do not necessarily apply outside of the United States. As SoundCloud is a global platform, we expect all of our creators to respect copyright law, and the rights of copyright owners, on a global basis.”

Translation: we can’t be bothered to know every copyright law around the world, but we expect our users to.

Following up on the article, I asked Amanda Brown, the COO of competing audio hosting service Audioboom, whether that service took a similar stance. Her replies are embedded below:

PRS is the organisation overseeing copyright for music in the UK.

Amanda did not respond to questions about laws in other territories. However, Audioboom do say in their page on filing a copyright notice that:

“We’re based and hosted in the United Kingdom and work under UK/EU laws (specifically the UK’s Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 and EU Directive 2001/29/EC).
“However, like many other UK/EU sites that work with user uploads, we use the framework and guidelines of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to make handling claims easier for everybody … we are not bound to follow the US DMCA laws or process [but] the guidelines are familiar to everyone and do work well for resolving these kind of situations.”

On this basis it does seem like Audioboom may be a better choice for journalists seeking to host content without the danger of it being taken offline.

And given that the platform is moving into publishing as well as hosting, and actively work with news organisations in the UK and US, it may well be that they are more receptive to communication on rights disputes than SoundCloud appear to have been.

Since then Scott Greer has also written about his experiences of falling foul of this:

So far, I haven’t seen any cases to prove otherwise (if you know of any copyright cases involving Audioboom please let me know).

If you want to listen to the full podcast on SoundCloud, here it is (at around 41 minutes):

This post originally appeared on Online Journalism Blog