Back in August of 2014, I received this frightening notice (below) from SoundCloud about a song that my ex-husband Suresh Shottam and I wrote in 1975, in India. We had performed it several times with our band Human Bondage, and then when we went to America, where we recorded a demo tape of the song with Joe Farrell, Richie Beirach, Jeff Williams, Frank Tusa and Lois Colin who are probably some of the finest jazz musicians in the world. It was a beautiful recording.
I am trying to get the music extracted from the cassette to digital format so I can listen to the better version of me.
That was then.
The song ‘Call’ has always been one of my favourites. My grandmother used to sing it. The lyrics are a sort of a dedication to one of our Indian gods, Krishna… my name is Radha, you see, and Radha and Krishna were quite the item. Suresh Shottam, my husband then, who wrote the beautiful music for the song, didn’t mind since there was no humanoid named Krishna to compete with him.
In 2012, I decided to record ‘Call’ again, with my present band UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble, as one of the songs on our album ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ and then my very talented cousin Indu Krishnan made a video for YouTube.
So imagine my horror when I received this (below) on my personal email ID, on Aug 5, 2014:
Our automatic content protection system has detected that your sound “Call” may contain the following copyright content: “Call” by Radha Thomas Ensemble, owned by null. As a result, its publication on your profile has been blocked.
If you are the copyright owner of this content, please notify us of this by submitting a dispute, and we’ll be able to help out quickly. You can file your dispute at the following link: https://copyright.soundcloud.com/dispute/soundcloud:disputes:10624631
If you are not the rights holder, but you have gotten permission to share this material on SoundCloud from the copyright owner, please send us proof of this permission in a dispute for review: https://copyright.soundcloud.com/dispute/soundcloud:disputes:10624631
To learn more about what kinds of content you are allowed to upload to SoundCloud in order to comply with copyright law, please visit our copyright information page.
The SoundCloud Copyright Team
Well, I wrote back to them through their website immediately, since you can’t reply via email or call and speak to someone and they sent me this email on the same day, kind of an ‘oops, we’re sorry,’ and I forgot all about it, but saved the emails fortunately. I usually delete everything.
Thank you for providing feedback in regards to the upload:
This notification is to inform you that your upload has been released to your account.
The SoundCloud team
I thought that all was well with the world.
Until yesterday. When I received this email, on my band’s email ID, and via YouTube this time.
Hi Radha Thomas,
After reviewing your dispute, The Orchard Music has decided that their copyright claim is still valid.
Video title: Call
Copyrighted song: Call
Claimed by: The Orchard Music
Why this can happen
• The copyright owner might disagree with your dispute.
• The reason you gave for disputing the claim may have been insufficient or invalid.
– The YouTube Team
So here are my questions to SoundCloud / YouTube / The Orchard / Google and anyone else preying on the music of people who have spent their lives thinking, creating, modifying and perfecting their art.
1. After reviewing what dispute? I am not disputing that ‘Call’ is my song. I know it is. And if you are referring to the above email from SoundCloud, did you not get their ‘Oops’ email?
2. Why should I prove that it is my song? Why don’t you prove it to me first?
3. Who is The Orchard anyway, and how can they listen to a song and say it is theirs?
4. What gives you the right to make me jump through hoops just because you are rich, powerful and no one apparently can touch you?
5. Lastly, but MOST IMPORTANTLY… can you please let me hear the song you believe I have ripped off? Send it to me, and if there’s any truth to your claim, I’ll give up chocolate for the rest of my life.
In total disgust,