More than two years back, I received an email notification from 4shared customer support that one of the songs I posted there (a cover version of the Malayalam sing “Anthiveyil Ponnuthirum”) violated the original copyright and had been taken down. Then just about six months back another one on a Hindi cover version of the song “Main Agar Kahoon” was reported and taken down with a warning that a third instance would end up with my account being banned. Then I learn from Rahul Soman that the website Muziboo has been shutdown permanently due to such copyright infringement claims. All these removals and warnings involved DMCA (The Digital Millennium Copyright Act), which is a US copyright law that is supposed to protect the intellectual property.
I had sent an email to 4shared contesting the copyright infringement claim but I did not receive any reply but further warnings without addressing the real issue here. Make no mistake, I respect intellectual property rights. But here I was, or many people like me who makes the majority of users at Muziboo, posting the karaoke/cover versions of the original songs with leaving original credits with their owners. Obviously, we do not make any money out of it. And these cover versions help audience remember the originals and appreciate it once again. At times, we also get applauded for our own efforts too, sometimes people commenting that our amateur, home-recorded versions were better than the originals.
If DMCA continues to make such claims of copyright over these harmless cover versions, how is it going to end? Is this restricted to the karaoke/cover songs uploaded over internet? Or does this extend to the music troupes who make a living out of singing the cover versions? Or the large number of celebrities and YouTube stars who made big with their versions? Can we not even sing at home, tuned to the karaoke tracks? Why are these big shots afraid of the music lovers like us, who aren’t in this for money but just the love of music?
I was thinking that if this was going on earlier, I would never have met M G Radhakrishnan and sang for him. I know many people in the industry who has made it big or is starting to make it big have started with singing the cover versions. I hope they will do something about it. To bring it to the attention of the biggies in the industry and get them to do something about it. On a large scale in the future, this move will put a cap on many amateur talents.