Sony Music Entertainment has been forced to abandon its claim that it owned 47 seconds of video of musician James Rhodes using his own piano to play music written by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Last week, Rhodes recorded a short video of himself playing a portion of Bach’s first Partita and posted it to Facebook. Bach died in 1750, so the music is obviously in the public domain. But that didn’t stop Sony from claiming the rights to the audio in Partita’s video.
“Your video matches 47 seconds of audio owned by Sony Music Entertainment,” said a notice Rhodes received on Facebook. Facebook responded by muting the audio in Rhodes’ video. Remarkably, when Rhodes disputed Sony’s claim, Sony stuck to its guns and denied the appeal. As far as we know, Sony hasn’t commented publicly on the dispute or explained why it continued to claim Rhodes’ music.
But whereas Facebook’s formal appeals process didn’t work for Rhodes, public shaming seems to have done the trick. Rhodes’ tweet on the topic got more than 2,000 retweets, and Rhodes also emailed senior Sony Music executives about the issue.
As one commenter noted:
Guys, let’s be reasonable here.
Without strong copyright enforcement, composers like Bach will have no incentive to produce new music.
Sony is just ensuring that Bach has the financial freedom to release his next album. Really they’re doing you a favor.