Soundcloud is often referred to as ‘the YouTube for audio’, and to date has over 175 million active users. In the ten years or so that Soundcloud has been established, copyright infringement has always been an issue, but with an exponentially increasing number of users this is a problem that is only getting worse as time goes on. Because of this, it’s no longer feasible to leave the job of checking for copyright infringement to human beings, so Soundcloud has to resort to other methods in order to detect copyright.
How Soundcloud Detects Copyright
With so many users on Soundcloud, artist have to be confident that they can control how their work appears on Soundcloud. If they were unable to do this then they would be reluctant to use Soundcloud’s services, which means that they would go elsewhere and Soundcloud would make no money. It’s therefore very much in the interests of the management of Soundcloud that copyright issues are identified, addressed and solved without delay.
Automated Content Identification
Since 2010, Soundcloud has used automatic content identification. Automatic content identification works in the following way. When an artist uploads a track to Soundcloud, the system checks the audio against a database of tracks that copyright owners have asked them to block. If the system is able to detect a match, then the artists’ upload is blocked, as per the request of the copyright owner. Another system is also run in the background to ensure that infringing content is being picked up on an ongoing basis – even after the initial upload. Any content that is picked up in this way will automatically be removed.
In addition to automatic content identification, there is also a process to manually take down offending content. How manual takedowns work is a lot more simple. Whenever someone submits a report via the ‘Report Copyright Infringement’ webform on Soundcloud, a member of Soundcloud staff review the request to make sure that it’s genuine, and then if appropriate will remove the offending content. There is a button to report such content on every single track page on Soundcloud, so it’s always easy to locate and use. In some cases, copyright owners can even directly remove content from Soundcloud using a special tool. Both of these methods have been available for several years, and they are two of the most effective ways for copyright owners to remove infringing content form the Soundcloud website.
Soundcloud Copyright Warnings
If Soundcloud receive a valid notification from a third party via their reporting process that someone’s content is infringing copyright, then they will take the offending content down immediately and send a written notification to the offending user’s registered email address. This will give the uploader the opportunity to clarify and defend their rights to display the content by filing a dispute. If the takedown is not successfully disputed (ie. It has not been disputed within 7 days or the appeal has been rejected), then a copyright warning will be sent to the same email address and the offending user will receive a ‘strike’ on their account. A user who has more than two strikes will more than likely have their account permanently terminated.
Only Soundcloud themselves are allowed to terminate a user’s account, unlike the option to remove offending content, which can be given as a privilege to selected copyright holders.