Fatso the Cat playing "You Make My Dream Come True" to images of Helen Hunt throwing herself out a window may have gotten over 376,000 views on YouTube, but Warner Music wasn't about to let the owner's violation of its copyright go unpunished.
This week the music company decided to pull its Hall & Oates audio from a Keyboard Cat video and put an end to the video's viral growth.
Instead, Warner lost an opportunity to monetize its back catalog and angered plenty of web surfers in the proces.
The offending video, a mashup of Keyboard Cat playing Hall & Oates hit single “You Make My Dreams Come True,” and Helen Hunt's most bravura performance (in 1982's Desperate Lives) now runs silently above these words:
"This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG. The audio has been disabled."
According to CNET:
It's a quintessential example of the music industry missing the point. The presence of a funny video that makes it look like a cat has joined Hall & Oates' band is not going to suddenly make hordes of people start pirating the duo's songs who otherwise would've paid for them.
Pairing a popular 1980s band with an internet meme has the potential to breathe new life into an old song. CNET's Caroline McCarthy even admits to purchasing the single after the video got it stuck in her head.
But Warner wasn't interested in sales that may have resulted from the video's popularity. Beyond that, they weren't even interested in making money from the video itself.
Music and film companies are finding a second life for much of their back catalogs on sites like Hulu and Netflix, but they can be forgiven for cracking down on copyright violations of their content online when they have few ways of profiting from it. While a viral video is likely to increase sales of a one popular song, it's not guaranteeed.
However, on YouTube, copyright owners have the option of earning a few dollars off of a video creator's hard work — and generally earning some goodwill in the process.
Warner may have used YouTube's ContentID program to find the offending Keyboard Cat video and silence its song, but they could have easily made some money from it.
Rather than simply take videos down, YouTube now allows copyright holders to put advertising on their content being used elsewhere. YouTube's informs copyright holders that they can block, track or monetize their copyrighted content found on the site:
"For a Monetize policy, the video will continue to be available on YouTube and ads will appear in conjunction with the video. The policies can be region-specific, so a content owner can allow a particular piece of material in one country and block the material in another."
But Warner Music wasn't interested in that. And now they've sent viewers to other sites (like FunnyorDie, where I found the video I've embedded below) and generally upset YouTube viewers. There are over 800 comments on the video. Including this one from YouTube user BarkingToad:
"Bye record labels. Your practices made sense for a while. Now they don't. The world changed, and you didn't.
You used to pay people to get your music on radio. Now you pay people to get your music OFF where people listen. Why not leave it and share publishing revenues with Google? Bullying easier than innovating?
Play the labels off, keyboard cat."
Play Helen and Hall & Oates Off, Keyboard Cat - watch more funny videos