Viacom Takes YouTube Lawsuit Into The Court Of Public Opinion

from the and-rewrites-the-DMCA-in-the-process dept

The Washington Post has handed over column space to Viacom's general counsel Michael Fricklas to explain the company's position in its lawsuit against Google/YouTube. It seems like Viacom is realizing that plenty of people seem to think it's making a pretty big mistake here (including some of its own employees), and thinks that a little explanation can sway public opinion. It's unlikely to help. Fricklas explains why Viacom thinks that the DMCA's safe harbor provisions don't protect Google -- something some legal experts disagree with. However, Fricklas may damage his own case towards the end where he talks about how unfair it is to put the burden of tracking the content on companies like Viacom, noting how difficult it is: "Putting the burden on the owners of creative works would require every copyright owner, big and small, to patrol the Web continually on an ever-burgeoning number of sites. That's hardly a workable or equitable solution." Yet, somehow it's "workable and equitable" to expect Google to do the same thing? The safe harbor provisions of the DMCA are there for very good reasons: to keep the platform providers from being responsible for what their users do. If Viacom is upset that fans are promoting their shows for them (and we still haven't quite figured out why), then why don't they do what the law says they should, and sue the fans uploading the content?


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    James, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:27am

    Perhaps Viacom will realize that the viewers will do what they want to with the content whether Viacom approves or not. That being the case, Viacom should sit down with Google and figure out how both parties can make take advantage. If Google can figure out which clips are Viacom's, then it seems possible that an arrangement could be struck for Google to embed ads at the head of those clips for Viacom.

    If Viacom stopped to think about this for a minute, they might see that there's a big chance to score some PR points. Deal with the "problem" and come up with a simple solution that benefits everyone - and that includes the viewers for a change.

     

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      Russ, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 2:40pm

      Re:

      The problem with that is most content providers have a very inflated idea of the value of the content they are trying to reach.

      Like going into mcD's and asking $15/hour with no experience. You may think you are worth it but McD' business model won't support it.

      Of course, you could pull a Viacom and start your own Hamburger stand. But I doubt u will make money paying everyone $15 per hour

       

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    TheDock22, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:33am

    Battle

    There is no simple solution for this problem. My only problem with Viacom is why are they only going after YouTube? Why not sue every search engine for allowing them to show websites with unauthorized video clips?

    I mean, they've already hurt their image by making such a fuss over YouTube. The fans aren't going to think any less of them then they already do by suing everyone over this issue.

     

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    ehrichweiss, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:35am

    restraint

    "If Viacom is upset that fans are promoting their shows for them (and we still haven't quite figured out why), then why don't they do what the law says they should, and sue the fans uploading the content?"

    I SUSPECT that it's because they've seen what results the MAFIAA's have had. Uploaders who think they'd get sued for uploading would instead move over to more "conventional" P2P services so that the distribution model then changes and it becomes harder to figure out who to sue. Moving to P2P would also probably get entire episodes uploaded instead of 10 minute clips making them even more furious.

    I think right now they're showing an INCREDIBLE amount of restraint with the uploaders; I'm not saying I support their position but they're not sharing Metallica's*** kneejerk reaction at least.

    ***we call them "Woodica" around here since they ceased being "metal" long ago.

     

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      YouKnowNothing, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:00am

      Re: restraint

      In my circles they're called "Alternica."

      Remember: Alternative music isn't. Alternative is just Mainstream 2.0.

       

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    Casper, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:36am

    To the life rafts!

    Seriously, what did they think would happen. They were generating far more interest in their shows when they were on YouTube, and pulling them off made people annoyed. Now, leaving it there would be one thing, but they thought they could do one better. So, they Turn around and sue YouTube, which is obviously the peoples favorite new toy, and have no case for doing so. No, that won't piss anyone off.

    Let's see, how do you get out of this situation? Oh that's right, you just explain your self. That always helps when there isn't a misunderstanding...

     

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    RandomThoughts, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:39am

    Mike, does YouTube qualify under safe harbor? The provisions are:

    (i) does not have actual knowledge that the material or an activity using the material on the system or network is infringing;
    (ii) in the absence of such actual knowledge, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent; or
    (iii) upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material;
    (B) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity; and
    (C) upon notification of claimed infringement as described in paragraph (3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity.

    I am no lawyer, but it does seem that YouTube doesn't qualify under a few provisions.

    That being said, I doubt it will ever get to court. As for going after the people who upload the content, why should they? Sometimes its better to drain the swamp rather than just swat at flies.

     

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      Luci, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:45am

      Re:

      ---
      (i) does not have actual knowledge that the material or an activity using the material on the system or network is infringing;
      (ii) in the absence of such actual knowledge, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent; or
      (iii) upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material;
      (B) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity; and
      (C) upon notification of claimed infringement as described in paragraph (3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity.

      I am no lawyer, but it does seem that YouTube doesn't qualify under a few provisions.

      That being said, I doubt it will ever get to court. As for going after the people who upload the content, why should they? Sometimes its better to drain the swamp rather than just swat at flies.


      I am not a lawyer, either, but it would appear to me in reading this, and your take on it, that you have missed a certain conjunction at the end of paragraph 2. Said conjunction, 'or,' indicates that they must only meet the qualifications under ONE of the three paragraphs, and they certainly do meet it under paragraph 3. They do not question DMCA notices, but act upon them almost immediately. That is what they are legally obligated to do. No more. No less.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:52am

        Re: Re:

        I agree with your point, however:

        (B) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity; and

        They are generating ad revenue while the content is there ... I guess defining the word 'ability' is the key sticking point ...

         

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        TheDock22, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:53am

        Re: Re:

        indicates that they must only meet the qualifications under ONE of the three paragraphs, and they certainly do meet it under paragraph 3.

        upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material;

        They don't meet this criteria. YouTube tried the best they could to disable access to Viacom content, but in the end they couldn't get rid of ALL Viacom content. That paragraph is pretty clear that YouTube was to get rid or disable access to ALL of Viacom's content, not just make a reasonable attempt to do so.

         

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          Chris, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          They don't meet this criteria. YouTube tried the best they could to disable access to Viacom content, but in the end they couldn't get rid of ALL Viacom content. That paragraph is pretty clear that YouTube was to get rid or disable access to ALL of Viacom's content, not just make a reasonable attempt to do so.
          So what? That's not how a DMCA takedown notice works - it's not legally viable for Viacom to say, "take down anything we own." They have to submit specific DMCA takedown notices for each and every work. That's why they're suing- it's just easier.

           

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        squik, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:58am

        Re: Re:

        I'm not a lawyer either, but the "and" at the end of (B) means they must satisfy that clause. It isn't clear to me that they do. They do receive financial benefit from the traffic driven to the YouTube site by the expropriated material.

        Techdirt continues to spin this as "Viacom getting promotion". The fact of the matter is that Viacom creates content to make money from it. They own the content. Only they have a right to control its distribution and use. YouTube clearly assists people in violating Viacom's property rights and they make money doing it.

         

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          YouKnowNothing, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "YouTube clearly assists people in violating Viacom's property rights and they make money doing it."

          Most people are using Microsoft Windows software to upload/view the content on YouTube. Therefore, Microsoft clearly assists people in violating Viacom's property rights and they make money doing it.

          Most people are using Dell Computers to upload/view the content on YouTube. Therefore, Dell clearly assists people in violating Viacom's property rights and they make money doing it.

          Most people are using Cisco routers to upload/view the content on YouTube. Therefore, Cisco clearly assists people in violating Viacom's property rights and they make money doing it.

          Shall I go on?

           

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          Casper, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:31am

          Re: Re: Re: by squik

          "YouTube clearly assists people in violating Viacom's property rights and they make money doing it."

          So any medium which may help assist someone in violating a law is now at fault? You might want to think about that one. That's like saying that a bank is at fault if someone uses them to hold money they have obtained illegally.

           

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            RandomThoughts, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: by squik

            Casper, ever hear of Anti-money laundering laws? Know Your Customer laws? Customer Identification Laws?

            Bank of America paid a $38 million fine for actions its customers undertook. IDB just paid a $12 million fine. RBS paid a big fine.

            Of course they are held at fault when their customers use them to hold or transfer money for illegal purposes.

             

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      Paul, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:56am

      Re:

      As far as I know, they meet the requirements under those provisions.

      "Sometimes its better to drain the swamp rather than just swat at flies."

      Just because something is better or easier doesn't make it legal.

       

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    billy, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:55am

    the DMCA

    That of all the things I have heard (I have not read it all myself) is the one thing I like about the DMCA.
    That platform offerers cannot be held accountable for how people use it.
    It does make perfect sense.
    No matter what goes out into the world, somebody will find a use for it the creator never thought of. That just seems to be how it is.
    I like that little bit.
    It should just be a simple one line sentence, but apparently it is a huge legalese tangle largely open to interpretation, how sad.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:55am

    Full paste:

    (c) Information Residing on Systems or Networks At Direction of Users.—
    (1) In general.— A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or, except as provided in subsection (j), for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the storage at the direction of a user of material that resides on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, if the service provider—
    (A)
    (i) does not have actual knowledge that the material or an activity using the material on the system or network is infringing;
    (ii) in the absence of such actual knowledge, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent; or
    (iii) upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material;
    (B) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity; and
    (C) upon notification of claimed infringement as described in paragraph (3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity.

    Doesn't seem to me that its a pick one and your safe, looks like you have to do all of them to qualify for safe harbor.

    Its sad, but I have read articles with statements quoting law experts stating both sides.

    The best question could be why doesn't the government write laws that can be undersood?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 1:35pm

      Re:

      If the government wrote laws that could be understood, we wouldn't need lawyers. And then the world would be lost in trying to figure out what occupation would become the butt of so many lawyer jokes.

       

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    Jack Sombra, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:02am

    "If Viacom is upset that fans are promoting their shows for them (and we still haven't quite figured out why)"
    2 possible reasons:
    *The marketing and PR people are starting to feel the job insecurity
    *Fans promoting stuff means viacom don't control how the show is promoted, which for control phreaks like them is highly distrubing

     

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    RandomThoughts, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:12am

    Chris, you can't say that the DMCA notice requires takedown notices that Viacom must use if YouTube doesn't qualify for safe harbor in the first place. You can't accept part of the DMCA without accepting it as a whole.

    In my legal opinion, I have no idea if YouTube qualifies for safe harbor(probably because I am not a legal expert). If they don't, they can be held financially responsible for what its users put up on their site.

    Understanding what the law says isn't easy, I asked our corporate lawyer and he had no clue and said you would have to talk to IP experts and such.

     

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    DCX2, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:31am

    Substantial non-infringing use

    YouTube has substantial non-infringing use...see all the non-copyrighted content that exists on the website.

    In order to cover bandwidth/support costs, YouTube will put up advertisements on their web site.

    Notice that no ads are actually on the pages with video...

    Also,

    The "or" applies to i, ii, and iii. The "and" applies to A, B, and C.

    So, that YouTube obeys A-iii clears the A clause.

    The B clause is covered because they aren't making direct financial benefit from the infringing videos. After all, minus copyrighted content, there is still traffic to YouTube. You can't show that the copyrighted content is the only reason YouTube gets traffic.

     

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    Geekfather, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:33am

    Idea

    They should post this to YouTube... that'd get it the attention it deserves.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:42am

    You know, laws are made because of specific circumstances. Often, the laws revolve around common sense regarding a certain issue, which as we all know is in short supply these days. The whole idea of a copyright is that if you create some form of new content that is unique and original, it is wrong for somebody else to take that content, claim it as their own, and profit from it. That's basic ethical code, and honestly shouldn't need a law to state that.

    But nonetheless, there are laws about it, and the instant somebody creates a law about something, somebody somewhere starts picking it apart, trying to find loopholes to use to their advantage. Viacom is doing just that. Uploading their content to YouTube is in no way claiming that somebody other than Viacom created said comment. There is no profit from sharing the content on Google, unless you count the income from advertisements on the website, which is arguable at best. If anything, Google and Viacom need to work out a deal for how to split that income.

    Viacom has an oppurtunity for its content to be hosted and promoted completely free of charge, and even make some money at it in the meantime. I'm not a business strategist, but that sounds like a pretty smart idea to me. After all, I thought the phrase was "money talks." How they going to come out ahead on this moneywise?


    Instead they seek to ruin their reputation in the marketplace and alienate their customer base, all for maintaining their precious little copyright. And in fact they are breaking the law while doing all this, and they need to be brought into court and shot down once and for all. Hopefully that will serve as an example for all. Even if they do somehow win the lawsuit, their reputation will be damaged beyond repair for the forseeable future. I will mention one more time how this is a perfect example of an utter lack of common sense. You gotta wonder how these lawyers sleep at night.

     

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    Wisdom Only, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:46am

    There are two groups of people out there... those who want to dictate how Viacom does business ("illegal uploaders"), and those who are happy to let Viacom run their own business.

    I think Viacom is doing a wonderful job protecting their assets by pulling their property of Google. The only thing they could do to diminish their PR rating is by making a deal with Google. They need to get a judgment, not settle.

    Anyone who advocates uploading copyrighted materials, or the failure to police such uploads, is like a squatter. They take over another person's house, use it as their own, always claiming they have a right to so because of some imagined "wrong" done by the owner , the government or "society."

    If people were moral and ethical they would report all all copyright infrigments themselves to Google, then there would be no need for lawsuits like this one.

    But people are not moral or ethical, people are corrupt. Their lives are so empty that they see something and they automatically think they own it and are free to share it.

    The reality is that it takes serious money to create media and companies have a right to control that media so they can make money to produce more projects and to make a profit.

    Those who think:

    - there is a loophole to ownership,

    - that companies who give away products are doing themselves a favor,

    - distribution can't be controlled

    are just wrong.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:47am

    Casper, banks are held responsible when their customers hold or transfer money for illegal activities.

    Anti-Money Laundering, Know Your Customer, Customer Identification Programs, these are all laws that hold financial institutions responsible when their customers break the law.

    Bank of America paid a $38 million fine, IDB just paid a $12 million fine. It goes on an on. Sure, YouTube has a lot of video's uploaded, but think its more than the number of financial transactions that go on each and every day?

    Anyone holding or transmitting funds are held to these standards. I recently saw that eBay was hiring an AML expert. From PayPal to Bank of New York, they are all held responsible.

     

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      Casper, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 12:11pm

      Re:

      Yes, but there are no such laws in place establishing a minimum requirement of prevention for uploading of media. You have to have a base line of comparison to find out if they have done enough to prevent the problem.

       

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    reed, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 12:18pm

    Get with the 21st century!

    Wisdom said,

    "Anyone who advocates uploading copyrighted materials, or the failure to police such uploads, is like a squatter. They take over another person's house, use it as their own, always claiming they have a right to so because of some imagined "wrong" done by the owner , the government or "society."

    You can't compare squatting on actual physical property with reproducing digital media and uploading it. They are not even close to the same.

    "If people were moral and ethical they would report all copyright infrigments themselves to Google, then there would be no need for lawsuits like this one."

    Yes, everyone should protect corporations interests because corporations are always protecting our interests LOL.

    "But people are not moral or ethical, people are corrupt. Their lives are so empty that they see something and they automatically think they own it and are free to share it."

    Great generalizations! Considering all people are corrupt then of course the whole idea of "owning" art and media must also be completely corrupt.

    These corporations that think they can own a millions of individual works of art and media that they had little or nothing to do with other than buying them are insane. They prey upon humanity's natural ability to create art and then expect the people who created the culture in the first place to pay for it.

    I will make this plain and clear, a closed copyrighted society only benefits the top 2% of people. It is an unfair system that gives a minority group of people an advantage in acquiring wealth and manipulating popular culture.

     

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      Wisdom Only, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 4:32pm

      Re: Get with the 21st century!

      >>> Yes, everyone should protect corporations interests because corporations are always protecting our interests LOL.

      LOL??? This isn't funny. This is tragic! It is the heart of the matter, however. It's not so much about being ethical as individuals and holding corporations to a high ethical standard, it's all about negative rants against corporations, isn't it?

      This is a kind of "cultural communism." Those people I mentioned previously... whose lives are so empty that they see something and they automatically think they own it and are free to share it (you know who you are out there!)... can't produce, so all they can do is bitch at those who do, in this case corporations like Viacom.


      If you think capitalism is " insane" Reed, then you need to visit Cuba, almost the last place on the planet where property rights mean almost nothing. Everyone "shares" everything, that's why nobody has anything.

      Corporations are an essential element of society. There are good ones and bad ones. In this case it is my opinion that Viacom is the good one, Google is the outlaw for not supporting intellectual property right of individuals and corporations.

       

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        reed, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 7:37pm

        Re: Re: Get with the 21st century!

        Wisdom said,

        "This is a kind of "cultural communism." Those people I mentioned previously..."

        Insert buzzword communism here!? It is hard to take you seriously when you try to bring non-relevant things into the discussion. Sounds like you like to spread FUD more than talk sanely about an issue.


        "Corporations are an essential element of society. There are good ones and bad ones. In this case it is my opinion that Viacom is the good one, Google is the outlaw for not supporting intellectual property right of individuals and corporations."

        If they are so essential then why did we do fine for so long without them? Corporations are only about profit. If you actually understand corporate law then you would know that officers in a corporation are legally bound by law to put the profits of the corporation above even things like public welfare.

        Try watching The Corporation if you want to understand the other side of the argument. Here is a link to it

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pin8fbdGV9Y

        It is not about black and white or capitalism and communism. These are just propaganda terms invented to confuse and distort the real issues at hand. By the way, welcome to the United Corporations of America, I hope you enjoy the fact that profit is more important than any moral value in existence.

        Google is a shining beacon in a world of dark and destruction corporations. It is sad you would portray them in such a negative light.

         

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    Not a Lawyer, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 12:19pm

    Musings

    Speaking to "Wisdom Only": there is a big difference between the videos and a person's house. The videos themselves are information, not physical property. Your analogy does not work because of this. A person cannot properly use their house if a squatter takes over it. Owners of information (videos, data, music, etc) can and do have multiple copies. Yes, if people were moral, they would observe copyright laws. The question is not morality, however, it is whether a service provider (upload and store your files here) is liable for the copyright infringement of its users. According to the DMCA YouTube meets Aiii, B AND C, therefore there is no basis for the lawsuit.

    YouTube does NOT DIRECTLY profit from Viacoms videos, it does not charge anyone to view the videos. It does make money by selling ads, but those ads are NOT directly attributable to the Viacom videos.

     

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      Wisdom Only, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 4:44pm

      Re: Musings

      >>> The question is not morality, however, it is whether a service provider (upload and store your files here) is liable for the copyright infringement of its users. According to the DMCA YouTube meets Aiii, B AND C, therefore there is no basis for the lawsuit.


      Couldn't disagree with you more, Not a Lawyer. All law is (or must be) based on ethics and morality. The separation of "morality" and "law" is at the root of the decay of American culture. Nothing is about right and wrong anymore, it's all about "me" and "how I feel."

      There are a million examples of how divorcing morality, ethics from law is ruining America, but I'll provide just one: The Iraqi war.

       

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    norman619, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 12:29pm

    Huh?

    I am a very busy guy and as such don't have too much time to watch the shows I want. So what do I do? I download the shows and watch them as I can. I usually wind up buying the DVD set of the shows I watch plus I tend to tell other friends of the shows and get them usually hooked as well. So should I be sued into the poor house becasue I download the content then BUY the DVD later? I think not. Here's another example. I recently downgraded my cable service and lost access to some of my favorite channels. A friend told me of a mini series he thought I would like that aired on scifi a while ago. I went ahead and downloaded the series and watched it. Now I am looking forward to buying it when it's available on DVD. I am pretty sure I am not in the minority in this regard. The content providers have much to gain from making their stuff available for free download on their own sites AFTER they ahev aired on regular TV. I wouldn't even mind if they placed a few commercials in the download. The very fact the people download their content should tell them it is in high demand and they CAN take advantage of this if they had any kind of imagination. We are no longer tied to the TV as we used to be. This pretty much invbalidates their current business model. When will they wake up and smell the possible revinue slipping away from them? If they made their own content easy to access there would be no need for youtube and other places like it.

     

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    RandomThoughts, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 2:07pm

    "If the government wrote laws that could be understood, we wouldn't need lawyers. And then the world would be lost in trying to figure out what occupation would become the butt of so many lawyer jokes."

    Customer service reps for cable and telco companies? They would be perfect, they can talk for days and say absolutly nothing that the caller could understand.

     

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    Nick Burns, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 6:14pm

    YouTube != 'Safe Harbor

    Viacom will succeed in their lawsuit. YouTube does not qualify for safe harbor. YouTube is like a TV channel broadcasting other channels' programming without licensing or syndicating the content. More on Google vs. YouTube at my blog.

     

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      Jack Sombra, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 6:31pm

      Re: YouTube != 'Safe Harbor

      "YouTube is like a TV channel broadcasting"
      Youtube is nothing like a TV Channel,

      With TV channels nothing they did not authorize will appear.

      With YouTube unless they have a reason to take it down and know about it, they maintain no control over the content

      If you want to compare youtube to something try Citizens' band radio, but maintained by a private for profit company

       

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    jack Sombra, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 6:21pm

    "All law is (or must be) based on ethics and morality. "
    While my heart can agree with your sentiments my head cannot, especially on the "morality" side.

    Why? Because if you grab 10 random people and sit them down and discuss what they consider moral vs immoral on a wide range of subjects you will 10 very different sets of answers

    For a good example, some consider homosexuality immoral and think that it should be made illegal, while others consider it immoral that homosexuals don't have 100% equality to hetros in all aspects of their lives

    Hell part of reason the law systems of the world are in such a mess is because so many laws were based on morals that existed at the time and ten get amended time and time again as societies morals keep changing

     

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    squik, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 10:04pm

    Re: Get with the 21st century!

    If they are so essential then why did we do fine for so long without them?

    Fact is, we didn't do fine without them.

    If you actually understand corporate law then you would know that officers in a corporation are legally bound by law to put the profits of the corporation above even things like public welfare.

    You are wrong. The corporate officers have a fiducial responsibility to act according to the law and to implement the interests of the shareholders. Laws, which de facto serve the public welfare, cannot be ignored merely because greater profit can be made by violating them. Further, if the shareholders want the corporation to use only renewable energy sources, though that might reduce profits, then it is incumbent on the officers to do exactly that, lest they be removed from their positions by the board.

    "Maximize shareholder value" was indeed the mantra of b-schools in the 1990s. This might lead you to believe corporations are only about profit. However, service to the customer and society is not necessarily the antithesis of profit. A 21st century understanding of "maximizing shareholder value", is to give the best possible service to the customer.

    By following law and meeting customer demands, a corporation serves the public welfare and maximizes shareholder value. Companies which fail in one or both of these tasks fail to maximize shareholder value.

    Google is a shining beacon in a world of dark and destruction corporations.

    Google is actually not a shining beacon. It violates copyright laws for its own monetary benefit, an act which will eventually catch up to it. Money it spends fighting lawsuits and posturing detract from shareholder value. Money it will pay in settlement will also reduce shareholder value. Violations of the law are diametrically opposed to public welfare.

    But, perhaps worse, Google assists the Chinese government in censoring political speech by altering search results to comply with the communist government's world view. If totalitarian governments are your preference, then I suppose you would find Google a shining beacon.

     

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      Reed, Mar 27th, 2007 @ 1:24pm

      Re: Re: Get with the 21st century!

      Squik squeaked,

      "Fact is, we didn't do fine without them. "

      The whole industrial revolution happened without corporations as we know them today. Your falling into a line of argument that corporations have used for many years to justify and create their outrageous privileges in our society. I don't buy their arguments at face value though!

      "You are wrong. The corporate officers have a fiducial responsibility to act according to the law and to implement the interests of the shareholders. Laws, which de facto serve the public welfare, cannot be ignored merely because greater profit can be made by violating them"

      Your so full of crap your eyes are turning brown (if they aren't already :). Corporation willfully and constantly violate laws in the pursuit of profits. You must have some real special sheep blinders on to ignore this fact.

      "Google is actually not a shining beacon. It violates copyright laws for its own monetary benefit, an act which will eventually catch up to it. "

      Once again I will point out this is the 21st century world and we have entered a post-copyright era according to most of the influential experts. We must begin to re-think how we deal with intellectual property in order to balance the unfair system that exists.

      Google is a shining beacon because it puts the value of information first and foremost ahead of all the money grubbing corporations that would have us be spoon fed by their media conglomerations. Google isn't perfect, but compared to the values of other corporations it seems almost saintly!

      Get with the 21st century and stop coming at this discussions with 20th century propaganda.

       

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    Ed, Mar 27th, 2007 @ 7:21am

    Questions....

    It seems to me that there are indeed two groups here. Those who side with Viacom, and those who side with Google.

    On the Viacom side there seem to be:


    On the Google side there seem to be:

    Those who want what they want no matter what.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2007 @ 7:49am

    Love the Viacom troll

    Keeps the FUD flowing in here.

     

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    Ed, Mar 27th, 2007 @ 8:21am

    Questions....

    Sorry about that last post, I started to write something, decided I was on the wrong track. Then slipped and sent it rather that erase it and start over.

    Here is attempt two:

    Should Youtube be protected?
    Well, I am no law expert. Laws are mostly written by lawyers is such a manner as to exclude any now lawyer from truly understanding them. But Morally I have questions, and an opinions on the answers.

    Are there uses for Youtube, other than unauthorized, Copyrighted material?

    Clearly, since there is non-copyrighted material up there.


    Is Youtube making a profit from advertising?

    Well, revenue, certainly, profit, don't know.

    Does some of the money come from viewers who visit expressly to see copyrighted material?

    Of course. It can't be separated.

    Do people choose to post material for which someone else holds a copyright, without the express permission of YouTube?

    Also Clearly.

    Does this benefit the Copyright holder in any way?

    In some cases yes, but while they may indeed be foolish to withhold permission, that is their right. While I also agree that copyrights, patents, etc are often abused by the owners, until such time as the laws are changed to permit such things, posting clips, without the owners consent is not allowed.

    Does Youtube endorse Copyrighted material posting?

    Not that I can see. Just because it happens, and Youtube benefits from the traffic does not prove endorsement of it.

    But, the key question is,

    What can YouTube do to prevent people from posting copyright material, while permitting non-infringing material?

    Not much as I can see it. There is literately no automated way for Youtube to ID copyrighted material. Given that people are recording video in dozens of ways, editing it, rescaling etc. The computing power is not there. Nor could they possibly employ human beings for this purpose. Yes people could possibly ID some things. But never all. Even Humans could easily mistake Legal things (like parity) for Copyrighted material. For this reason, the law was written requiring the Copyright holder to ID the material, then once ID'd, Youtube must remove it. As long as they follow this, it seems to me that they are obeying the law as best they can. And therefore are entitled to protection, under the law as written. This seems within the spirit of the law. Forgetting all the moral issues, the law is the law. You don't like it (either to tough, or to lenient) change it. Don't play games with courts, trying to get laws re-interpreted to mean something else, that suits you better, change it. Courts, even judges are far to swayed by personal opinion and misunderstanding. I once had a Judge tell me to my face that he did not care what was allowed by law, he did not approve, and therefore I he would not permit it. Fortunately, it was a minor financial matter, not worth appealing, so I did not fight, but it illustrates a problem with the court system, I have no better system mind you, on the whole it is the best I can think of, but opened to abuse.

    As to what I would like to see happen.....
    Viacom et. al. should reach an agreement with Youtube. It seems to be in everyones best interest that they do so. Some profit (profit mind you, not revenue) sharing scheme for viewing of such clips. Seems fair. The problem is neither side most likely wants to be fair.

     

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      Steve, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 1:14am

      Re: Questions....

      You are trying to creat a technical sofution, which really wont work. It generally never does.

      What would work, is FEAR.

      What? Yes, fear, Youtube, should ask for every ones, address, phone #, track their IP, their ISP.

      And CLEARLY point out that they are not allow to post copyright material.

      And I mean big one, huge RED page.

      And if they do post it, they too will be liable.

      That will stop most people, and for the ones that it does not well then Google, should take them to court.

      If we have no copyright or Int. Property laws that work, there will be less reason to invest personally or from a corp. in creating content, And what are you left with.......Mentos and diet coke...forever.

       

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    CRTisMe, Mar 27th, 2007 @ 8:50am

    Storage issue

    c) Information Residing on Systems or Networks At Direction of Users.—
    (1) In general.— A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or, except as provided in subsection (j), for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the storage at the direction of a user of material that resides on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, if the service provider—

    Everyone is overlooking one of the core issues that YouTube/Google is going to have to address per the law. YouTube can finesse its way to show it meets the fairly loose definition of being an ISP. But notice that the above law protects "Information Residing". Then later "storage" and then again "resides". YouTube is able to claim immunity for "storage" fairly clearly under this definition. However, there is no provision or protections noted for the "rebroadcasting" that YouTube does. YouTube even throws in the software for the video viewer. Therein lies first major hurdle in court for Google. In fact, do you know of other ISPs that would be so sanguine about also providing all the video viewers and supplies that help in this "rebroadcasting"?

    Storage is one thing but actively helping with moving it out of storage with your own software viewer seems a little aggressive according to this law. The words "storage" and "residing" all strongly connote things that are kept private, not publicly displayed.

     

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    squik, Mar 27th, 2007 @ 2:01pm

    re:reed

    The whole industrial revolution happened without corporations as we know them today.

    The industrial revolution created corporations. And corporations sustained the industrial revolution. The two go hand in hand.

    Corporation willfully and constantly violate laws in the pursuit of profits.

    Then stop electing corporatist shills into office. If a corporation breaks the law, then there is remedy for its violations. If you elect people who refuse to prosecute, or worse give the wink and nod to lawbreakers, then you have only yourself to blame.

    we have entered a post-copyright era according to most of the influential experts

    Name three. Though changes in media may demand changes in its implementation, copyright is here to stay.

    We must begin to re-think how we deal with intellectual property in order to balance the unfair system that exists.

    Viacom spends 100s of millions per year producing/commissioning video that people want to see. Viacom wants to retain the right to control its distribution and make money to pay its costs and make a profit. You call it fair to allow YouTube to strip the video of its value by providing it for free? Your "21st century" values were clearly described in the 19th century by Karl Marx.

     

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      reed, Mar 27th, 2007 @ 10:14pm

      Re: re:reed

      Squik spouts,

      "Your "21st century" values were clearly described in the 19th century by Karl Marx."

      I am sure Karl Marx understood the digital age and the ramifications of being able to store our entire history of ideas on a hard disk ...?

      Sometimes ideas are more powerful than labels like communism or capitalism can explain. The idea of a community working together transcends what Karl Marx talked about and is seen in new movements like Open Source. Marx is only one of the more known writers to talk about this sort of thing and he is often used to stir up oppressive ant-communist feelings.

      Are you rich from copyrights? If your not your playing a sad tune that was taught to you by your media conglomerations. Stop protecting the lie and free the knowledge and art so we can grow as a people instead of trying to cater to the conglomerations. Unless of course you think that protecting stolen ideas like Mickey Mouse for the next 100 years is a swell thing!

      These laws no longer serve any purpose but serving a select percentage of the population by giving them special and unfair rights.

      Experts for Copyright Reform:

      Bruce Lehman, who now heads the International Intellectual Property Institute

      Congressman Rick Boucher

      Gigi B. Sohn President of Public Knowledge

      There are tons of other people, but I am not sure if I can back up "influential" as people probably would disagree on that.

       

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    identicon
    squik, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 3:58pm

    Well, I have to hand it to you. You named three people. But you said there were "influential experts" supporting your view. None of those people has influenced me, nor are they moving the general public. So, I guess we'll have to disagree about the "influential" part.

    I have used copyrights to protect software that I have written. I have used patents to protect inventions. Both have protected companies I have created from being ripped off by bigger companies. Those companies have made money for myself and investors. One company I started as a one man operation and grew to IPO. Had it not been for IP protections, that might not have happened.

    So, I'm not singing a sad tune. I am a little guy who used the protections of the law to win in a business environment that would have otherwise chewed me up and spat me out.

    As for your rhetoric about Mickey Mouse, I think Disney has had that franchise for a long time. I understand why Disney wants to continue to protect it. They created the value that is Mickey Mouse through massive investment over many decades. They built a media empire and several theme-parks around Mickey Mouse as their unifying logo. Without copyright protection, the unimaginative, uncreative peddlers of crap will use the image of Mickey Mouse as their selling gimmick and drain massive value from the character.

    You may call Mickey Mouse a stolen idea, but it really wasn't. Steamboat Willie, the cartoon that propelled Mickey Mouse to popularity was a parody of a Buster Keaton film. Parody is permitted by copyright law.

    In fact, Mickey Mouse was created by Disney Studio because their previous animated character "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" was created for and owned by Universal Studios. Walt was a smart enough cookie to set about creating a character he owned and Disney Studio came up with Mickey Mouse.

     

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    98 cents left, Mar 31st, 2007 @ 12:02am

    yeah, ok, my $0.02

    Viacom has a right ro demand the takedown of it copyrighted material from YouTube. It owns the content, it is allowed to make decesions about where the content can be displayed, even if the decesions are on the dumb side.

    YouTube, In my opinion, should be protected by safe harbor.

    And here is what I think the ultimate response from google would be:
    http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20070327

     

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    Ancient Meat, Mar 31st, 2007 @ 8:52am

    Copyright vs. public needs

    I need to be permitted to comment, to spoof, to criticize, to make a statement, about copyrighted media. If prohibited, who will know, or even remember, that it once existed, and possibly was a portion of the lexicon of the society?

    There are many books, and many films, and many works of art, that I would not have known of, if they hadn't been spoofed, critiqued, or noted, in some other work.

    I believe the body of work that is YouTube does nothing more than promote otherwise forgettable works, through the parody of them. To obscure that living artform deprives Viacom of an audience, probably little missed by the audience, but, necessary to the employment of Viacom workers, and artists.

    I see it simply as my own quest for knowledge, and I end up paying for the entire work, if I ever hear of it.

    To me, YouTube is just a work of current art, ever changing, that exposes my brain to new works that I can quest after. Viacom is like Microsoft, the RIAA, and SCO, willing to sue it's own customers, in suicide mode.

    How stupid can these executives be? Do lawyers control everything at a corporation? No wonder the lack of imagination and sparcity of new developments!

     

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    weirdowaldo, Mar 31st, 2007 @ 9:03am

    Lawyers seem to lack passion for art.

    All the lawyers seem to lack any passion for art. In a world of lawyers, there are no parachutes, airplanes, fast cars, risky rides.

    In fact, the only food is bland pablum, as the only utensil is a wooden spoon!

    The public doesn't go to Youtube or Google for full length books, or movies. We go to the Internet to get information about those arts, because it is a better form of advertising, criticism, and sharing of opinion. Not perfect, but fast, and usually balanced through a larger sampling.

    Lawyers seem to be bland, stupid, dis-passionate, in reality. None appear as wonderful as those protrayed in books or movies, or on the TV.

    Too bad. I like to watch passion play out. Blandness bores me. I run http://pclinuxos.com on my curbside donated computers, immune to all the "114,000 Microsoft Virus Definitions", and "outside the box" that the great felon Microsoft built. Now there is a lawyer run business with some great convictions, on several continents!

     

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      Steve, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 1:48am

      Re: Lawyers seem to lack passion for art.

      All the lawyers seem to lack any passion for art. In a world of lawyers, there are no parachutes, airplanes, fast cars, risky rides.

      In fact, the only food is bland pablum, as the only utensil is a wooden spoon!

      The public doesn't go to Youtube or Google for full length books, or movies. We go to the Internet to get information about those arts, because it is a better form of advertising, criticism, and sharing of opinion. Not perfect, but fast, and usually balanced through a larger sampling.

      Lawyers seem to be bland, stupid, dis-passionate, in reality. None appear as wonderful as those protrayed in books or movies, or on the TV.

      Too bad. I like to watch passion play out. Blandness bores me. I run http://pclinuxos.com on my curbside donated computers, immune to all the "114,000 Microsoft Virus Definitions", and "outside the box" that the great felon Microsoft built. Now there is a lawyer run business with some great convictions, on several continents!.



      that is total and absolute ...................RUBBISH

      CNET (download.com's ) own stats say most popular downloads.......

      #2............ bitcomet
      #1............ Limewire

      Over 80 million downloads.

      and you say people dont download movies, or books

      dude......GET REAL

       

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    Steve, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 1:36am

    Dont you see where this is going.........

    I think that there is a much bigger part of this that a lot are not seeing.

    Google with its books, and youTube, break, even indirectly, copyright and int. prop rights, and laws.

    Lots here complain about big bad corps.

    But lets stop and think for a moment, if these infringements continue, and this combined with the bit-torrents of the world, and we say there are no repercussions to doing this (taking content) then where do we end up?

    Am I going to spend my time creating content, at my expense, only to have it stolen? Would you?

    Simply put, if your house was broken into many times, you would think about getting a better door, or more locks. Right?

    The DCMA, and DRM, are such devices...

    Google and YouTube, are only creating the REASON to make things more locked down, more restrictions, more more more.

    But Ironically thats what you as consumers are complaining about too.

    Again simply put, you cant have your cake and eat it too.

    The more they (and you) infringe the more actions will be taken, again take a look at the levels of copy protection on HD.

    And for smaller independent producers the cost of implementation eg HD restrictions is too great. But if they don't it gets stolen.

    The upshot of this, is there will be less choice in the end. We'll be stuck with large "summer blockbuster" movies. And "mentos and diet coke" at the other end, and nothing else in between.

    You better start thinking now, exactly what kind of world you want, and what kinds of entertainment you want, otherwise before you know it you wont have any choice at all.

    Google too should take this into account, regarding their posters, and collect information from them, ip, isp, name, phone, city etc. And start informing them they too will be liable for illegal content posts. Thats the least they could do, and i mean make it clear, make it big, and make it red.

    IF they don't do this, and you (the generic you) post copyrighted material, then get ready for a world of "mentos and diet coke".....................forever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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