On YouTube, Vidal posted a humorous video tribute to John Williams, the man who scored the soundtracks for such blockbuster films as Indiana Jones, and Star Wars. In his clip he included some of Williams' music. By now, everybody knows that YouTube removes videos that violate copyright law. What's different about Vidal's work getting pulled is that when he posted it in October, he was permitted to use Warner's music.
Until last month, YouTube had an agreement with Warner Music--one of the four largest recording companies--that allowed video creators to include the label's content in their clips. Last month, talks to renew the deal broke down and that means YouTube and its users no longer have access to Warner's library. For this reason, the case is much different than YouTube's high-profile fight with Viacom or run-of-the-mill piracy that once flourished on the site.
But I'm not certain Sandoval is quite right when he says that when Vidal posted his video, "he was permitted to use Warner's music." Here's what I mean: it's true that back in 2006, YouTube and WMG entered into a deal. My understanding of the way the deal worked is that when a user uploaded a video containing WMG music, YouTube employed an automated content identification system (Audible Magic, I believe) that recognized the audio. Instead of blocking or taking down the video, the system enabled some form of revenue sharing between YouTube and WMG.
The interesting existential question is this: though YouTube and WMG worked out a deal such that YouTube wouldn't be liable for copyright infringement for keeping the video on its site, is the uploader himself still an infringer? One way of looking at it is that no one gave him permission to upload it; YouTube and WMG just worked out a way to both profit from his act of infringement. Another way of looking at it (which seems to be Sandoval's take) is that the deal basically gave permission to anyone to upload WMG music; with such permission, there's no infringement at all.
I'm not sure which view is correct; the YouTube/WMG deal probably contains clues as to how those two view the status of the uploader's actions, but it isn't public. Keep in mind that YouTube's terms of service provide:
you further agree that you will not submit material that is copyrighted ... or otherwise subject to third party proprietary rights ... unless you are the owner of such rights or have permission from their rightful owner to post the material and to grant YouTube all of the license rights granted herein.
Again, did WMG, by entering into its 2006 agreement with YouTube, grant permission to everyone to upload its music? Did WMG inform them that they did? Does it matter?