In 2015, when Australian music technologist Sebastian Tomczak uploaded a 10-hour YouTube video featuring nothing but white noise, he was, in his own words, “interested in listening to continuous sounds of various types, and how our perception of these kinds of sounds and our attention changes over longer periods.”
Instead, Tomczak learned a lesson in internet-age distribution. Even though his clip was composed entirely of indeterminable, staticky sound, it has received five Content ID claims since its initial upload date, the last of which arrived on January 5.
Some of the claims accuse Tomczak of infringing upon white noise videos that are designed to help people fall asleep. All five claimants have chosen to monetize Tomczak’s video rather that requesting a takedown of it, so the university professor’s white noise clip is now generating revenue for other people.
Though Tomczak’s tangle with Content ID lends more credence to the imperfect nature of YouTube’s rights management system, the technologist isn’t worried about feeling any effects on his channel. “I’ve had quite a few copyright claims against me, usually based on cases where I’ve made long mixes of work, or longer pieces,” he told Torrent Freak. “Usually I don’t take them too seriously.”
Tomczak’s channel hosts multiple ten-hour videos. One of his clips, for example, is a perfect fifth interval stretching across a massive expanse of time. As Torrent Freak notes, that video has no copyright claims against it.