Facebook mutilates videos of musicians

Complaint to Consumer and Market Authority

Ten musicians have filed a complaint with the Consumer and Market Authority against Facebook. They accuse Facebook of mutilating music videos of them by muting their sound. ‘Partially muted due to copyright claim’ then appears on the screen. Facebook asks its users to respect copyrights and intellectual property of others. In practice, however, Facebook routinely mutes recordings of professional musicians that do not violate any rights at all. This also happened to pianist Martin Oei, who will tour in the spring with the program ‘ A touch of Paris.’ In the Concertgebouw, he will play on an authentic Erard grand piano from the era of composers Debussy and Ravel. Oei posted a video on Facebook in which he played a section of a prelude by Debussy behind an Erard grand piano. The recording was barely online when Facebook decided to mute the sound of the excerpt, citing “copyright infringement. Oei filed a dispute right away because there was no violation in any form. The recording was Oei’s own and Debussy died in 1918. Facebook accepted the dispute and turned back the audio “in part” as the company put it. However, Facebook only turned back the sound of the first chord; the rest of the music remained muted. Oei asked on Facebook if several musicians had been affected by this, and the responses poured in. He filed a complaint with the Authority for Consumers and Markets on behalf of Nicolas van Poucke, Joop Celis, Sebastiaan Oosthout, Wouter van Belle, Jacob Schenk, Robert Vrijland, Harry Koopman, Bernd Brackman and Rhonda Branneky, among others, denouncing the unreasonable course of action. ‘Facebook’s practices are unlawful and I request that you summon Facebook to cease these practices immediately. ‘ so states Oei.


Music performances are subject to copyright by the composer (author) and the performer. Copyright lasts until 70 years after the death of the author. After this period, the works enter the public domain and can be exploited without the permission of the copyright holders. This means that all music by all composers who died before 1948 is not copyrighted. Regarding the performer’s rights: the musicians are entitled to their own recordings and interpretation of the composer.

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