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A DJ claims that SoundCloud is accusing him of copyright infringement over a silent song

A DJ is claiming that Soundcloud deleted one of his songs and accused him of copyright infringement — despite being a remix of total silence.

D.J. Detweiler posted a screenshot to his Facebook page of an email allegedly sent to him by the music-hosting website. In it, Soundcloud apparently tells him that its “automated content protection system” has flagged up one of his songs “may contain copyrighted content,” and has been removed. (We first read saw the news on Dancing Astronaut.)

The song in question? “John Cage — 4′ 33 (DJ DETWEILER REMIX).”

If you’re not familiar with 4’33, it’s not ordinary song. Written by the late American composer John Cage, it’s 4 minutes and 33 seconds of, well, silence. Here’s a performance — if you can call it that — by a full orchestra:

Dj detweiler soundcloudD.J. Detweiler/FBThe letter D.J. Detweiler says he received from Soundcloud.

It’s not clear exactly how Soundcloud apparently decided that D.J. Detweiler’s remix was infringing. Music blog Your EDM speculates that “instead of paying to help keep musician’s music protected from false copyright claims, Soundcloud took the easy way out and will remove your music just based on the title of the track.” Business Insider has reached out to Soundcloud for comment and will update this story when it responds.

Some content-hosting sites — notably YouTube — use systems like Content ID, which scans the content of videos for infringing material, taking it down (or monetising it) accordingly.

D.J. Detweiler told Business Insider that his track was intended “to start a conversation about copyright for fun” — suggesting he expected it would be removed.

SoundCloud is increasingly strict on alleged copyright infringement. It has largely grown off the back of a DJ community — but the remixes they upload can sometimes exist in a legal grey area due to their use of other people’s work. The company is now cracking down, and many long-time users aren’t happy.

Detweiler is a frequent critic of SoundCloud’s copyright policies. He has replaced all of the audio on the songs on his profile with satirical messages mocking SoundCloud. One says a track “may contain copyrighted content by some d**khead’s label.” Another calls the D.J. a “bad boy.” “Hello, this is a message from Soundcloud,” says a third. “The major labels make us cry, so we have to do everything they tell us.”

The DJ told Business Insider that he doesn’t hate Soundcloud. “I just find ridiculous the fact that if I’m not generating any profit from remixing a piece of sound, I get the song taken down,” he said.

He added that “the creative process is based on copying and transforming ideas.”

Detweiler points to YouTube as a good example of how copyright can be effectively policed. “I can upload a remix or a mashup to YouTube,” he said. “And I will get a email saying this is using 3rd party rights, and the video will start being monetised towards them.

“That’s a better system to deal with copyright. I think it should be changed in some way too giving some percentage to whoever remixed it too. As they own a percentage of the creativity of that piece.”

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