Title is pretty wordy, so I'll begin with an example.

Jincheng Zhang is an artist who adds slight voice-overs to popular free music, and often becomes the default result when you Shazam a song, as a smart device 'what's playing?' or other algorithm-determined methods. This generates a significant amount of 'free' clicks per month that make it more difficult for music fans to identify music.


As you can see by a quick 15 second listen, the copy has very slight voice clips added to the music, and additionally, the music is 'fuzzed' a little bit, similar to how laptops and low quality speakers render this music. This makes it a 'more unique match' by measure of tools like Shazam, Google identify song, etc. Both of those services identify the 'copy' from playing the first 10 seconds of the original song.

This was discussed previously on this forum here: (long google webcache link which is a cache of https://musicfans.stackexchange.com/questions/7562/is-jincheng-zhang-copying-instrumental-work-of-others

I'd like to

  1. Ask if there are general laws about this somewhat unique issue: taking 'undeserved clicks' by modifying free music for profit
  2. Find out if there's a way to report this to services like Shazam, Google identify, they seem fully algorithm based at this point.
  3. See if anyone else has experienced this in similar forms and found success in doing so

The song Letter Box by Up Above is part of Youtube Audio Library (YAL), so people are free to use it on any youtube content they want.


Note that on this particular track, there is no obligation to credit the original artist.

You can see thousands of youtube videos everyday with soundtracks from YAL (some of them from successful youtubers earning money) and they do not credit the artists. So for your question 1, I don't see nothing illegal here.

My guess is library artists have already been paid for their work, and Youtube will not care who and how the track is used as long as it generates traffic.

For the question 2, yes these services have support contacts and if you suspect something illegal, you should alert them.

I suppose Shazam will compare tracks with their own data base and the guy has submitted his work to Shazam, that's why his tracks come first in the search results.

Note that according to new laws of copyright (if I understood correctly), owner of rights will have to claim if they spot a content with their work, and not the opposite.

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  • Marked as answer. I agree that since the music is free it doesn't need to be credited, but when it starts making it hard to find music for other people, and seems intentional considering the effort put in, it feels like it shouldn't be allowed. Thanks for the Shazam link. I'll see if I can give them some context. – user10285455 Jan 4 '19 at 8:39
  • @user10285455, great :) let us know their answer. – Bebs Jan 4 '19 at 8:42
  • @user10285455, this question addresses the issue of identifying Library music... and I have the feeling that there are not supposed to be easily identifiable. – Bebs Jan 4 '19 at 8:47

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