by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 24th 2013 2:45pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 8th 2013 9:56am
from the bet-that'll-stop-terror dept
YouTube sent the Observatory an email on Sunday that said its channels "syrianhro" and "almrsd" had "violated the policy of the site by publishing shocking and offensive videos," the Britain-based watchdog said.Of course, if we're to take Lieberman's theory to its logical conclusion, so long as no one can see the atrocities in Syria, we can all pretend they haven't happened, right?
The Observatory, which disseminates graphic videos on YouTube of atrocities from the bloody civil war the UN says has killed more than 60,000 people, condemned the closure.
"This is the second time in two months that the site administration has closed the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights channel," it said in a statement, in reference specifically to almrsd.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 4th 2013 9:36am
from the more-peering-disputes dept
Millions of French netizens discover their YouTube streams sputter and die or never begin in the first place. Other video services, including TF1, are also struggling. The effect varies, sometimes randomly and sometimes by time of day. Respected consumer organization UFC-Que Choisir found between 20% and 50% of users surveyed online had problems.The details suggest that this isn't so much a "neutrality" issue as a peering dispute. In fact, it actually sounds somewhat similar to the Level 3 / Comcast dispute from a few years back. In that case, Level 3 was providing service to Netflix, and Comcast worried about the big influx of traffic. Comcast (like France Telecom) demanded that Level 3 pay up for delivering it extra traffic. The bit that's interesting here is that French regulators got involved and said that this was legal in this case, though they're worried about the lack of transparency.
Again, the existing connection remains and much of the traffic gets through. But Net traffic always grows and without regularly adding additional capacity many - not all - streams are blocked. French networks, with France Telecom in the lead, are refusing to accept growing traffic from Cogent, a major backbone carrier that services Google. They demand payment to accept all the streams their customers request. The independent French competition authority (Autorite de la concurrence) on September 20 approved the charging plan, leaving no doubt this is neutrality dispute.
Of course all this does is show, yet again, how the internet's interconnectivity through peering arrangements is increasingly under pressure as certain broadband players become more powerful. And, unfortunately, the public (and their YouTube videos) may be at risk.
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Jan 2nd 2013 8:04pm
from the targeted-blocking-software-fails-to-block-main-target dept
More recently, it joined a variety of nations which imposed a Youtube ban (or at least complained loudly and violently) because of Google's refusal to block or remove the "Innocence of the Muslims" video. Reacting to violent protests, Pakistan cut off Youtube, much to the dismay of its estimated 25 million internet users.
After the protests switched from decrying the offending video to decrying the offending censorious government, Pakistan decided to lift the ban... only to put it back in less time than it takes to sing [insert viral pop tune title here]:
A ban on YouTube, which Pakistan imposed after an anti-Islam video caused riots in much of the Muslim world, was lifted Saturday, only to be reinstated — after three minutes — when it was discovered that blasphemous material was still available on the site.Much to the censor's dismay, the offending video remained just where the uploader had left it. The government stated it had "taken steps" to block offending content, but somehow the very thing that had prompted the shutdown had eluded the blockade, putting Muhammed directly in the path of badly-dubbed criticism.
This three-minute unbanning prompted another round of government-aimed criticism, this time with a bit more of a sarcastic edge, as a Pakistani journalist compared interior minister Rehman Malik to a kid playing with the light switch and pointed out that the same government that couldn't handle a website wants to be entrusted with stopping terrorism.
Unfortunately, part of the collateral damage of the Youtube ban is one of Pakistan's own -- Mohammed Shahid Nazir, a fishmonger whose song "One Pound Fish" has gone viral on the video service, racking up over eight million views.
The Nation’s report gave a sense of how famous Mr. Nazir managed to become, despite the ban on the video-sharing site in his home country: “Around 250 people, including local politicians met him at the airport, showering him with rose petals and chanting ‘Long Live One Pound Fish!’ while TV networks interrupted coverage of the fifth anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination to show his return live.”Of course, that's the danger of blocking or taking down content viewed as dangerous, blasphemous, heretical or just plain infringing -- very often, legitimate, non-dangerous, non-offensive content gets caught in the sticky webs of overreaching entities.
I suppose the government has to be grateful that this past weekend's up-and-down action managed to leave the rest of the internet intact. It has to be tough living down a surreptitious Youtube blockade that manages to kill your own country's internet service while blocking the Youtube connection of a handful of unrelated (except by ISP) countries.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 2nd 2013 5:24am
from the manipulations... dept
The DailyDot -- who normally does a fantastic job -- broke the story that got most of the attention, reporting:
Lots of other publications then picked up on the Daily Dot version and suddenly the story was everywhere -- in particular claiming that the labels were being punished for faked video views. Only problem? That's not really true. The report suggests that YouTube has begun a big campaign against view inflation by YouTube users across the board. That part is true. But the untrue part is that the major labels were faking so many views. Instead, it turns out that most of the issue was just that the labels had moved their videos from YouTube to Vevo -- the online video site that the labels had started a few years ago (built on top of YouTube technology). As Billboard notes, the "de-spamming" effort did delete about 1.5 million views from Sony and Universal Music videos -- so there may be some funny business, but that's tiny compared to the 2 billion views that disappeared. But the reason those went away was much more mundane:
Google slashed the cumulative view counts on YouTube channels belonging to Universal Music Group, Sony/BMG, and RCA Records by more than 2 billion views Tuesday, a drastic winter cleanup that may be aimed at shutting down black hat view count-building techniques employed by a community of rogue view count manipulators on the video-sharing site.
Universal's channel is the one that took the biggest hit. According to figures compiled by the YouTube statistics analysts at SocialBlade, the record company's YouTube channel lost more than 1 billion views from its preexisting tally of 7 billion views Tuesday.
The answer comes in the second way that YouTube changed its view count. The company recently decided to remove view counts for videos that are no longer live on the channel, or so-called "dead videos." For Universal and Sony, that meant thousands of music videos that over the past three years slowly have migrated to the VEVO channel, which is jointly owned by the two companies. A senior label executive confirmed the migration....Considering how many people have been sending this story over, I know lots of people would like to believe Sony Music and Universal Music faked 2 billion views and were now being punished for it, but it's just not the case.
That meant high-profile videos that once lived separately on the Universal and Sony YouTube channels have been relocated to Vevo. As a result, the views that those videos received during their time on the dedicated label channels were taken away in YouTube's latest "clean up" effort.
In other words, those views happened; they weren't "faked" or even double counted when they went on to Vevo. But because the videos are no longer on the channel, YouTube considers them "dead videos." They still live on in YouTube, just under a different channel.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 4th 2012 7:47am
from the everyone-wants-a-cut dept
That said, a reporter for the NY Times caught up with the homeless man in question, Jeffrey Hillman, who hasn't received quite as much attention, only to find that he's barefoot again, saying that the boots were now hidden for his own safety:
"Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money," Mr. Hillman said in an interview on Broadway in the 70s. "I could lose my life."From the interview, it appears that Mr. Hillman -- who has been homeless for many years -- may have plenty of other problems as well. However, in a moment of clarity... he put forth the kind of statement we're used to hearing all the time around here:
"I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?" he said. "This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie."This is what you get, folks, in a world where you tell everyone that idea, concept, image, etc. must be "owned."
Fri, Oct 19th 2012 2:41pm
from the the-striesanding-continues dept
"This guy totally gets us."
Well, Garcia and her team are back for more, and now they appear to think that YouTube is responsible for identifying the copyright holder of the film in question. The story reportedly goes something like this. Garcia phones up the attorney for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (or whatever his name is this week) about a settlement offer and said attorney tells Garcia that she needs to contact the holder of the copyright on the film, which is not Nakoula (I have no idea if this is true). Then her lawyers emailed Timothy Alger, an outside consultant for Google.
"I have just been informed by Nakoula's attorney that Nakoula...DOES NOT OWN the rights to the film and will not claim copyright ownership on the rights to the film," Armenta wrote. "We believe it is YouTube's burden to identify the correct copyright holder, in light of Garcia's allegations that she owns the rights to her dramatic performance."I can't imagine why YouTube should have the burden of copyright ownership discovery. How would they even go about doing that? In any case, Garcia's lawyers are citing the Viacom lawsuit against YouTube to put their handling of DMCA takedown requests in the spotlight. But there's a problem with such a citation, in that Google's position during the trial went in exactly the opposite direction on the question of copyright ownership being determined.
During the appeal in the Viacom case, Google's lawyers argued forcefully for a strict knowledge standard in determining an ISP's copyright liability. Google wanted copyright holders like Viacom to bear the burden of sending takedown notices because they were in the best position to determine what is infringing and what is not. "There's no central depository of copyrights," said Google's lawyer during the appellate hearing.What Garcia's lawyers are attempting to do is to show that YouTube has been willing in the past to be quick with their takedown trigger fingers and are not responding similarly in this case. The difference, of course, is that Garcia is claiming ownership on something in which the law is, if I want to be extremely generous to Garcia's lawyers, ambiguous. To be less generous, the caselaw I referenced earlier determined that Garcia does not have any takedown rights over her performance, which is why YouTube is refusing to take the film down. And, as a California judge did once already, another judge has refused to issue an injunction to remove the film. In fact, that judge mentioned what I've been saying since Garcia first started her arm-waiving:
But on Thursday, the judge denied her request for a temporary restraining order, citing the fact that the alleged infringement commenced almost three months ago.Where was Garcia and her team of kinda-lawyers when this film was first released? It was out for months before the controversy began and the fatwas were issued. If this was an infringement on her performance, why was it only after the media picked this story up that such infringement was alleged by Garcia?
The only logical answer is that until the negative press began, Garcia didn't care. Which means she's using DMCA notices, not because of any legitimate copyright claim, but rather in an attempt to stifle free speech.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 3rd 2012 11:53pm
from the good-move dept
Users have always had the ability to dispute Content ID claims on their videos if they believe those claims are invalid. Prior to today, if a content owner rejected that dispute, the user was left with no recourse for certain types of Content ID claims (e.g., monetize claims). Based upon feedback from our community, today we’re introducing an appeals process that gives eligible users a new choice when dealing with a rejected dispute. When the user files an appeal, a content owner has two options: release the claim or file a formal DMCA notification.This is a much more reasonable process that doesn't allow people claiming copyright to effectively take over a video regardless of whether or not the video's uploader disputes it. This probably should have happened a long time ago, but it's good to see it finally has.
The announcement also claims that their system is becoming better at avoiding "invalid claims." It sounds as though there's some sort of threshold now, where if something is borderline, it goes into a manual review queue, rather than automatically being taken down. So the more "gray area" cases will get a human review first.
We'll see how all of this works out, but it's good to see that Google is taking many of the complaints about ContentID's overeager takedowns seriously.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 25th 2012 12:35pm
Brazilian Judge Overreacts, Orders Arrest Of Head Of Google's Operations In Brazil Over Refusal To Censor YouTube Video
from the secondary-liabiity dept
To say that this is an extreme overreaction, would be an understatement. Because of one video, about one local mayoral candidate (which, thanks to this publicity many more people are likely to see), all of Google should be blocked for people in Brazil and the head of Google's operations in Brazil should be arrested? Talk about a disproportionate response. Not only is it extreme, it makes no sense. Google didn't create or upload the video. It's just hosting it. If the video is illegal, blame whoever created it and uploaded it.
Google is appealing the ruling, but it still seems extreme. Google's transparency report has noted in the past that Brazil is perhaps the most aggressive country when it comes to content removal requests -- but that only suggests that someone should be thinking more carefully about how fast the Brazilian courts are to issue these kinds of injunctions without seeming to understand Google's role.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 17th 2012 3:08am
from the there's-this-first-amendment-thing dept
Its removal is not the same as deferring to government censorship, and as much as I hate to give mob violence the satisfaction of an effective heckler’s veto, we cannot expect that online service providers will never remove material simply because it is deemed offensive by wide swaths of the population. Moreover, I can’t help but wondering if the violent response isn’t just what the film-makers were hoping for. So by leaving the image on its site so that we can understand the controversy, while taking it down where broad access to the material is likely to cause the greatest harm, Google has made a comprehensible judgment.As such, even if we disagree with the choice, it's a defensible choice.
But when it's the White House suggesting that, it's a pretty clear situation in which the President is applying pressure on a private company to censor speech. Of course, we've seen this before, though not with the White House directly. Four years ago, we saw Senator Joe Lieberman similarly pressure YouTube to start blocking "terrorist" videos on YouTube. Lieberman, of course, loves to pressure private companies into blocking speech. He did similar things to try to censor Wikileaks and even pushed some bad legislation to try to increase censorship powers of the federal government.
Either way, the White House putting pressure on Google has troubling implications, even if we agree that the video in question is a hate-mongering disgrace. As various free speech activists told Politico (link above) there are some troubling implications here:
"There's no indication that the government is questioning the right of these idiots to make that repellent film. On the other hand, it does make us nervous when the government throws its weight behind any requests for censorship," the American Civil Liberties Union's Ben Wizner said in an interview Friday.Google, for its part, has actually stood up to the White House on this one, and said that it won't pull the clip, though it had begun blocking the video in India and Indonesia, where they determined the video itself was illegal, and the company needed to comply with local laws.
"I am actually kind of distressed by this," said Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Even though there are all these great quotes from inside the White House saying they support free speech....by calling YouTube from the White House, they were sending a message no matter how much they say we don't want them to take it down, when the White House calls and asks you to review it, it sends a message and has a certain chilling effect."
Of course, all of this is unlikely to have much, if any, impact on the violence and anger. And that's part of the problem and the ridiculousness with arguing for censorship. It seems quite likely that a very large percentage of those involved in the mob violence to this haven't even seen the video themselves. Caving in to censorship "hints" from government doesn't actually hide the content or calm much anger. In fact, it's likely to just draw more attention to it. The video is despicable and the reaction to it is horrifying on a number of levels. The loss of life is massively upsetting, especially over something so stupid. So I can certainly understand the instinct to try to "do something," and to reach for the easiest target: censoring the video. But not only would it be completely ineffectual, it opens up a whole host of other problems. Dealing with hate speech by seeking to censor it almost always just encourages more hate speech (and even more idiotic violent reactions). It may be an "easy" thing to do, but it's no solution to deep-seeded problems. It just creates new problems.