Skip directly to content

Open Goldberg Variations now recognized by YouTube's ContentID

on Fri, 08/02/2013 - 11:40

UPDATE 2: We have added a claim release form specifically for those who wish to have their "AdRev for Rights Holder" claim released.

UPDATE: Anyone interested in this topic should absolutely read the blog at Free Music Archive (who did their due dilligence better than I did), because some of the claims of border on being outright misleading.

One of the distinct benefits of having the Open Goldberg Variations free for use by everyone has been the plethora of great YouTube videos that have made use of the content. From fractal animations, to dance videos, to nature collages, people have chosen Bach and Kimiko Ishizaka to enhance the message of their film. We've recieve endless words of thanks for providing this, and we've enjoyed watching these videos appear.

YouTube is very careful about protecting rights holders. They use a technology called ContentID that is pretty good at identifying music in videos. Overall it's a good system that allows for the wide use of a lot of music without it being considered theft or copyright abuse, because the rights holders are compensated. The problem that we've run into, and that we've heard over and over again from others, is that ContentID falsely identifies the Open Goldberg Variations as other people's copyrighted recordings. This puts a burden on the creator of the video to dispute the claim, and it creates a dependency on the falsely identified rights holder to then acknowledge the dispute. Overall, it's been quite a headache.

To counter this, we've taken the step of joining the program at We've uploaded the Open Goldberg Variations to their system and explained to them how the rights structure works. They then represent us on YouTube and scan videos to see if any of them use the Open Goldberg Variations. Today I received first evidence that the system is working, and that they correctly identify the Open Goldberg Variations any time they're used on YouTube.

This is a good thing. YouTube is a for-profit venture, and if we want to be part of their universe we need to play by their rules. Their rules are that a portion of revenue is set aside for rights holders, and they've designed a very elaborate system for identifying these people and ensuring that they get their money. The money comes from advertising. The advertising is going to be part of YouTube one way or another. The only question is who gets the money. When people use the Open Goldberg Variations in videos, there are only three options:

  1. YouTube gets all the money
  2. YouTube and a completely unrelated rights holder with an unjustified claim split the money
  3. YouTube and Open Goldberg split the money


Given those three options, you can see that the third one is the best, and now that's exactly what will happen. If we receive any money from YouTube we'll use it to make more open source recordings. 

Here's how you know that ContentID has appropriately identified the Open Goldberg Variations in a video. First you'll see a message like this stating that there is "Matched third party content" in your YouTube video manager:

Then you click through you see to whom the content is attributed. If it looks like this, it's us:

The key is that it says "OpenGoldberg" at the beginning, and "AdRev for Rights Holder" at the end. That's us!

You are then asked to Acknowledge or Dispute the claim. Please acknowledge these claims. That's how the system is supposed to work and it's the best way moving forward to ensure that people can use the Open Goldberg Variations for their YouTube content, and that no other record company unfairly profits from our hard work.