Saturday, November 24, 2012

Music Industry Predators

The music industry is fighting back against copyright infringement in the same way that Japanese pilots turned their planes into missiles near the end of the war.  In a desperate attempt to win in a war that is already lost, the music industry has cast a broad net to try and clean up the copyright violations on YouTube.  At the time of this writing I have responded to five false claims of copyright infringement on this video.  There is no music in this video, yet each time it is tagged there is a digital rights management company (Often "The Orchard" or one of its subsidiary companies) claiming that some obscure piece of music is being played in the video.

When a claim is made against a video, all ad revenue is stopped.  This means that I, as the true rights holder to the video, can no longer earn any income from the video.  At the same time, the company making the claim now has the ability to post ads on my video, and all ad revenue goes to them, as they have made a claim that they own the rights to the content.  In a strange twist of the rules, the music industry is now making money on media that they did not create, and that they have no rights to whatsoever.  They have found a way to steal digital rights income from other people, even when there is no music involved.

There is no human involvement in this process.  The digital rights management company simply makes a claim to the YouTube machine and starts making money on the videos.  As a YouTube up-loader I have the right to appeal the decision, but losing a series of appeals will result in having my YouTube account flagged for copyright violations.  The on-screen warnings indicate that this can lead to having my account closed and all videos deleted. 

If I file an appeal, it is not heard by YouTube staff.  The appeal goes to the company that filed the claim.  They have the ability to insist that they are correct in the absence of any evidence and without arbitration.  The music industry can shut down any YouTube user and eliminate their ability to make legitimate money on their own material.

The music industry has become the new cyber-bully on YouTube.  They are not making these false claims against obscure videos that are not being viewed.  They are targeting videos that are being viewed and generating ad revenue.  They are stealing ad revenue from people like me by doing this on a massive scale and making claims on (probably) hundreds of thousands of videos.  Others have posted that they have finally given up on the appeals process and just let it go.  Now the digital rights management company is making the ad revenue on those videos and earning large sums of money every month on material they do not own.

YouTube needs to wake up and modify their digital rights process.  They have allowed a bull to run freely in the china shop because they don't want to be the target of legal action.  Google and YouTube are a part of the problem.  They don't care if the ad revenue goes to the wrong person, because they make the same amount of money either way.

Click the image below to see the last two claims made against my video:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Watching the Amazon Sales Rank

The Amazon Sales Rank is a very dynamic rating of how well a book or product is selling on Amazon.  The number is updated about once an hour and does not reflect any sales that are happening outside of the Amazon domain where you see the number listed.  Amazon keeps separate sales rank numbers in each of their markets, so good sales at will not influence the calculation of the sales rank in the US.

As a CreateSpace author I can see real time reports of book sales and watch the changes in sales rank that result.  Amazon reserves the right to make occasional adjustments to the sales rank even when sales are not occurring, and they will occasionally do this.  The sales rank will climb during any hour-long period where there is no sale, and it will drop to a lower number when a sale occurs.

Amazon decided recently to credit the self-publishing authors with sales after the book was printed.  We were previously credited with the sale at the time of the sale.  Amazon is able to print books for Print-on-Demand sales in usually just a few hours.  As a customer I have been notified of shipment within three hours of placing an order for a book that was printed after I ordered it.  This shift to reporting sales after printing has has an odd impact on my daily monitoring of sales.  Many of the sales now get reported while I am sleeping!  Now I am often finding that I can wake up in the morning and see sales that were credited to me during the night.

Amazon sales ranking is very dynamic for books that are not best sellers.  While books in the top 100 will not show a lot of movement throughout the day, books ranked lower can see their ranking jump several hundred thousand places with just one sale.  I guess it is hard to calculate the hourly sales figures on an item that does not sell every hour, or even every day.  Amazon wants the number to reflect sales during the last hour, and is not so concerned with the sales rank of less popular titles, even if they are selling consistently over time.  As a result, you may see large shifts in sales rank for books that are not best sellers.

There is another fun twist to sales ranks.  As a CreateSpace affiliated author I can ask that my books be listed in specific "browse categories" on Amazon.  The sales page for each book will show the ranking for the book in the chosen sales category any time that it is in the top 100 titles of that category.  My three books on Stirling engine construction all happened to rank well enough to be in a top 100 list at the same time recently, so I took some screen shots of the sales rankings to memorialize the moment.

The first book that I released is called "Three LTD Stirling Engines You Can Build Without a Machine Shop."  Here is what the sales rank looks like for that title (click for a larger view):
I was very excited to see that sales were good enough to be placed in the top 100 sales for Science Experiments and Projects and Mechanical Engineering!
The second book I released is "Quick and Easy Stirling Engine."  Here is the sales rank for that title (click for a larger view):

The third title I released is called, "Eleven Stirling Engine Projects You Can Build."  It was also recently listed in the top 100 for two different categories (click for a larger view):