by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 6th 2012 1:21pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 4th 2012 5:42am
from the is-it-so-easy? dept
I received an email from him, however, after he got a note from YouTube about how the video infringes on content from Universal Music. His concern -- and remember, he works in the industry -- was that he knows the camp has an ASCAP license, and he couldn't figure out why that didn't allow him to post the video. He was asking what he should do and if there was any way to make sure the video was legal.
The problem (well, one of many) here is simply that the ASCAP license only covers a limited set of rights under copyright law, and does not cover things like putting music to a video. In fact, without knowing the details, I'd bet that the ASCAP license his camp has really just covers performances at the camp. But, still, here's a guy who works in the industry who naturally assumes that what he's done shouldn't violate copyright law. Because it seems ridiculous to think that it does, especially when the camp that the video is for has "an ASCAP license."
The idea that anyone should need to understand the differences between performance rights and reproduction rights and performance licenses and sync licenses, just to post a fun slide show of a summer camp, doesn't make any sense at all. It's a serious problem borne out of a history of copyright law that was designed for an entirely different purpose. It's supposed to be for commercial infringement, not personal use, and copyright law has been built by simply duct taping on new or different rights every few years as the technology changes. What you get is a hodge podge mess that's impossible for most people to understand, even those who work in the entertainment industry and who that same industry insists only wants ever more draconian copyright law.
The system is hopelessly broken. But rather than looking to fix it, we have Congress trying to duct tape on another batch of rules and rights. What a shame.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Dec 16th 2011 8:58am
from the but-it's-still-sleazy dept
The legal fight between Megaupload and Universal Music Group keeps getting more and more... odd. After the court gave UMG basically a day to respond, the company filed its response and made a rather surprising point: that a deal with YouTube/Google lets it take down videos it has no copyright over. This seems odd, and lots of people are screaming about some crazy clause that lets UMG censor anyone's videos. But I think I understand what's going on here -- and it's a very specific situation, where UMG sorta used a loophole -- so read on for the details. UMG is still being questionable, sleazy and short-sighted... but probably legal.
The key part of the company's legal response likely is accurate and probably kills MegaUpload's case. There are a few different ways that content can be taken down off of YouTube concerning copyright claims. One is via ContentID, the automated system that matches fingerprints. One is via a DMCA takedown notice. And one is via YouTube's Content Management System. This last one doesn't get much attention and isn't that well known, but it's basically halfway in between the other two (loosely speaking), granting partners the ability to spot and block videos that aren't matched by ContentID, but without sending a DMCA takedown. If you're familiar with the details of the system (which it appears MegaUpload and its lawyers were not), it was actually easy to tell this was a CMS block by the message that appeared on the blocked video. It said "This video contains content from UMG, who has blocked it on copyright grounds." That's the message that shows up on CMS blocks. DMCA takedowns say that the video is "no longer available."
So, on that point, UMG may very well be correct in its filing, that it's not subject to DMCA sanctions because it didn't actually file a DMCA notice. This is kind of a weak excuse, frankly, and really calls into question how YouTube's CMS system works, more than anything else. In theory, this also means that the only retribution that can happen for UMG wrongly taking down the videos of others is that Google cuts them off. But seeing as Google has a big partnership with UMG to build and run Vevo, that's unlikely to happen. That's a bit scary, but it suggests UMG more or less has a free pass to shut down certain videos it doesn't like without much recourse (well, beyond public ridicule).
That said, a part of UMG's explanation isn't entirely clear, but I have some guesses as to what happened. UMG claims that its agreement with YouTube goes beyond just copyright, and that it's allowed to pull videos for other (unnamed) reasons. This is new, in a sense, because YouTube has always suggested that CMS is for copyright issues -- and, in fact, the original message on the video, did, in fact, say that it was a copyright issue. YouTube later changed that message to say it was a terms of service issue. And that provides a clue.
I believe that part of the Vevo agreement is that UMG gets to "pull" videos of its own artists from YouTube for the purpose of putting them on Vevo. That's the intention anyway. I know when Vevo launched, that was part of the deal. All the YouTube videos of UMG artists magically jumped over to Vevo. So, I'm guessing that UMG basically used this loophole, which was supposed to be about taking videos off YouTube for the purpose of putting them on Vevo, and realized it could just "take the videos off YouTube" as long as they had UMG artists in them, without ever putting them up on Vevo.
In other words, due to the specific nature of the Vevo agreement -- which was intended to move videos from YouTube to Vevo -- UMG can pull videos that show its artists off of YouTube. Of course, in this case, it used it for an entirely different purpose, which was to try to censor this ad. That backfired in all sorts of ways, and it sounds like YouTube told UMG to knock it off, knowing that this was not the intention of the agreement at all. And, for what it's worth, UMG has stopped getting the video blocked, and says it will allow it to stay up for now.
This situation is messy and silly, but it seems like an unintended result of contract language over Vevo that UMG exploited. It may be legal, but in the end, it was pretty dumb by UMG. This whole thing, in true Streisand Effect fashion, actually drove a lot more attention to the ad. And even if it was legal, it sure makes UMG look petty and vindictive.
Update: Received a response from a YouTube spokesperson which makes this a little more interesting.
Our partners do not have broad take-down rights to remove anything they donít like from our service. In limited cases, if they so choose, and based on exclusive agreements with their artists, partners can take down live performances.That confirms some of what I thought: that UMG does not have the right to take down any videos (as people keep implying), but that it may be able to take down some videos. The new bit of info is that it's just live performances. So, that would suggest UMG is even slimier. They tried to claim that those video clips of artists in the MegaUpload song were "live performances." That's clearly bogus.
Update 2: And... MegaUpload has conceded that its restraining order request is moot, and so the judge has denied it (pdf), while giving the company the right to file for a preliminary injunction and for discovery. So, not much of anything, but the case will likely continue.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 12:45pm
from the privacy-violations? dept
the dissemination of photographs and videos in addition to the names and affiliations of those police officers therein were treated as privacy violations. The court cites Art. 2 of the law of January 6, 1978, which makes makes it illegal for private sector entities to process personal identifying information without first registering with a government commission (CNIL). Moreover, dissemination of that personal identifying information has to be done under conditions that respect the privacy of the persons in question. The court also treats certain statements made about the police on the website as defamatory.The "defamation" claim at the end may make some people think that this move is more justified, but a later comment clarifies the statements seen as "defamatory." None appeared to implicate any individual, but rather complain about the police in general and seem to be pretty obvious hyperbole -- i.e., things that wouldn't normally be seen as defamatory. The privacy claim is simply ridiculous. It seems to assume privacy rights where none exist.
It's difficult to see how this decision is anything other than an attempt by the French courts to hide police misconduct. That seems rather shameful.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 12th 2011 1:12am
The Rest Of The Story: Fair Use School Created To Respond To YouTube's Questionable Copyright School
from the fair-use-tube dept
The winner has been announced, and it's Patrick McKay for his "Fair Use School," that takes the same basic style and makes a video about fair use, and which explains YouTube's DMCA counternotice setup:
by Michael Ho
Thu, Jun 23rd 2011 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- This is possibly the most unintentionally-funny video of a robot that can bundle matching socks. Insert phallic joke here. [url]
- Robotic jugglers aren't quite perfect at juggling 5 balls at a time yet. And there's a long way to go before they can add a bowling ball and a chainsaw to their act. [url]
- Paul the robot is aiming to take the job of pencil sketch artists at local fairs and amusement parks. Its drawings look a bit messy, though... [url]
- To discover more interesting robotics-related content, check out what's currently floating around the StumbleUpon universe. [url]
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Jun 8th 2011 2:42pm
from the it's-still-yours-isn't-it dept
Youtube (finally) introduced a Creative Commons licensing option for uploaders on June 2nd, allowing users to make their original works freely available to others to remix and build upon without worrying about infringement charges down the road. At this point it's only implemented a CC-BY option, but it expects to introduce others further down the road. The key to this license is that it allows others to use these licensed videos commercially, which has proven to be a sticking point for certain parties with a vested interest in keeping uploaded contributions licensed solely to the creator.
Two dissenting opinions appeared nearly immediately. The first argument against the CC-BY license appeared at the Viralfier blog, where Scott Burke has decided that CC licensing is the worst thing ever (or "evar"), running down 6 reasons why you shouldn't use this new option:
Take another example. MasterCard wants to use your sweet snowboarding video in a worldwide advertising campaign. Great! Except you already gave the rights away, when you tagged it with a Creative Commons license. You might get a brief attribution at the bottom of the ad — but wouldn’t you also want a licensing fee?
Well sure, Scott. Who wouldn't? But it's not as if the video was doing much on its own, all locked down and whatnot. And hindsight, while having perfect 20/20 vision, is hardly what one would call a "business model." There's also exposure and the fact that the original video still belongs to you.
His next point deals specifically with the "exposure" aspect, showing how that doesn't work either:
klaatu42‘s recent hit viral video, Ultimate Dog Tease (you know, “The maple kind?”), has received 35 million views to date, and his channel has 385,000 subscribers. The source video that it’s based off of, is by IcePrincessXXIV. klaatu42 gives her about as prominent a link as you can get in the video.
How many subscribers did that translate into for IcePrincessXXIV? 600. A full 0.15% of the action.
Those are admittedly terrible numbers, but is counting subscriptions really a viable measurement? I watch tons of videos (and see tons of overlaid ads) on Youtube and I think I'm subscribed to maybe two channels. (And that's just me. Add in my family and everything goes exponential.) Does this mean that someone's successful use of your video instantly translates to jacksquat on your end? I hardly think so.
Points 3 and 4 deal with two familiar "arguments," the first being that if you give something away for free, you obviously think your artwork is worth nothing. This fallacy is hardly worth arguing but can anyone out there think of anything valuable that's being given away for free as part of a hugely successful business model? (Try Googling it.) The other has to do with your limited legal recourse in cases where your video has been misused or infringed upon. Good point. Regular copyright holders never have these problems and their legal battles run very smoothly because of that fact!
The real reason for this post emerges in point 5, where Scott encourages readers to join Viralfier's closed beta. Because Viralfier is "a startup which is developing a 'game-changing toolkit for creating and marketing viral videos.'" Hmmm. Suddenly, this advice seems a tad off. (Point 6 seems to have something to do with making an 8-bit cat "cry." Double-hmmm.)
The second opinion is more of the same, but much briefer: Won't work. Too crowded. Not interested. I ingested several grains of salt (80% of my RDA for sodium) when greeted with "ReelSEO: The Online Video Marketing Guide" upon opening this link.
Of course, anti-CC sloganeering and misinformation-spreading is old news at this point. Another conflicted and interested party, ASCAP, spent part of last year trying to build a warchest to fight Creative Commons. The Portuguese Socialist Party attempted to outlaw CC licensing, thus making it illegal for artists to give their work away for free. Several others have also stepped up to the plate to take a swing at Creative Commons, claiming that it is "anti-artist" and that Creative Commons licensing "has put a large number of creatives out of business."
Why do they care? Or, more realistically, why do they pretend to care?
1. In their minds, art is always zero-sum. If someone takes your artwork and builds on it successfully, then it must logically follow that no one but this "someone" will ever be able to make money from that particular piece of art. Apparently, artwork can be "used up."
2. The gatekeepers and artists tied to these systems can't compete with free. This isn't necessarily the kept artists' fault. They often have no say in the matter. But because the industries aren't interested in competing with free, then the free option needs to be removed.
It gets uglier when you, as an artist, go head-to-head with this mindset. The accustations will fly. "You obviously feel your artwork is worth nothing." "Don't you care what happens to something you created?" "There's no legal recourse with Creative Commons." "You must be an idiot/untalented hack if you don't do things the way they've always been done."
I wonder why they just can't let artists distribute their art the way they want to, rather than using hyperbolic statements to FUD-up the debate or humiliate underinformed artists into doing things their way. Is creative work inherently "worthless" if you can't immediately apply a price tag to it? Why does it all boil down to "price" and "control"?
But the most irritating aspect of this so-called "debate" is the hypocrisy. All this effort on "behalf" of artists is nothing more than a completely condescending effort to save "ignorant" artists from themselves. And for what? A chance to play ball with a bunch of gatekeepers who care more for their profit margins and quarterly sales than they do about 99% of the artists they "represent?" It's one thing to run your own industry into the ground. It's quite another when you disparage other options solely to benefit your own system.
That goes for you, too, Viralifier and ReelSEO.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 7th 2011 9:31am
from the copyright-as-censorship dept
Fox is free to argue that the clip misrepresented him, misquoted him or otherwise was unfair or questionable, if he believes that's the case. He can argue that he didn't give good answers and would like to answer the questions more fully. But what he should not be able to do is to issue a totally bogus copyright claim on the video which is clearly fair use, and where he's obviously not using copyright law as intended, but as a way to silence a critic of his.
Tue, Mar 8th 2011 1:37pm
from the ugly-is-the-new-pretty dept
"TheUglyDance.com was actually not a result of some great promotional master plan. It just happened.It started off as an idea to get visitors to my band Fulkultur's (meaning Ugly Culture/Crap Culture) Myspace page. I have had this idea about a dance application for about a decade. In January last year I started programming it in my spare time, and a couple of months later I wrote the song Fuldans (Ugly Dance) specifically for the application. It was not the other way around, as most people think.On May 17 we released fuldans.se and sent the link to some friends. When I checked the stats a couple of days later a few thousand people had made their own dancers. I could feel something was about to happen. Just the day after someone shared a link on a Swedish blog, and it generated a tsunami of visitors. 30 000 people rushed in in just a few hours. The week after we hade a few hundred thousand hits, and it was a continous struggle to keep the server alive. Two weeks after the release, and 700 000 visitors later, I thought everything was under control. Then the Americans came.Someone had written English instructions for the website, and had published it on some major American website. Our current server could not handle that amount of visitors. We decided to close the server for international visitors, to find a better solution.During June/July we created an English clone of fuldans.se. It was going to be called theuglydance.com. Even the music was translated, and our aim was to raise money for the band to write and record more music. The clone was released by the end of August.Now, to answer your question:TheUglyDance.com have had 7 milllion completely unique visitors. A few very kind people have donated, but they are very few. If we should have done anything differently, we should probably have sold T-shirts or something. Something real for the massive amount of visitors to buy. But we are still very happy for what we have accomplished. We will try to keep the website alive for as long as possible, although it is not a cash cow at all."
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Dec 3rd 2010 6:03pm
Viacom Plays The Insane Hyperbole Card In Claiming YouTube Ruling Would 'Completely Destroy' Content Value
from the get-real dept
If affirmed by this Court, that construction of Section 512(c) would radically transform the functioning of the copyright system and severely impair, if not completely destroy, the value of many copyrighted creations. It would immunize from copyright infringement liability even avowedly piratical Internet businesses.To put it mildly, this is hogwash. First of all, it's exactly how the system has functioned since the DMCA came into being in 1998. If you see infringing content on a site, you issue a takedown and the site takes it down in order to keep its safe harbors. The idea that it would "completely destroy" the value of content makes no sense at all. First, you have to understand why it makes no sense that YouTube should be liable: it has absolutely no way of knowing, for certain, whether or not specific content is infringing. As it showed in the case, even Viacom itself had trouble figuring out what was infringing, and had sued YouTube over a bunch of videos that it had put on YouTube itself. How do you make YouTube responsible for determining such things when even the copyright holder can't figure it out? It makes no sense.
Second, the idea that the value of the work is "destroyed" again makes no sense. After all, the value of any particular content is intrinsic to the content and how any individual feels about it. The value of a piece of content doesn't change if someone puts it up on YouTube. Furthermore, YouTube quickly does remove content when it receives a takedown notice, so if Viacom is that concerned, it can send the takedowns. In fact, that's exactly what it did and the company complied. That's exactly what the law says it should do. On top of that, nothing in the DMCA's safe harbors immunizes those who actually upload the content, who are still very much liable for their own actions.
But the biggest evidence that Viacom's claims are complete and total hogwash is the simple fact that even after the ruling, there has been no "mass destruction" in value of content. As we've pointed out for years, the overall revenue for the entertainment industry continues to go up all this time -- though, perhaps less of it goes to the gatekeepers like Viacom. But those are normal market changes, not anything nefarious. Who knows how the appeals court will rule in the case, but Viacom seems to be going off the deep end with hyperbole in making its own case. They must be hoping that the judges don't do much thinking for themselves.