by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 18th 2007 4:55pm
There's a lot of talk about the new "guidelines" that were announced today mainly by the big television studios, along with a few smaller players in the online video space. The press coverage highlights two things: this is a big deal and it's notable that Google didn't agree to join. I'm not sure either thing is really true. Reading through the actual principles, about the only thing that's noteworthy is how pointless they are. If anything, they're basically a "full employment for Audible Magic" document in that they require companies to install the type of filters that Audible Magic is selling (though, it's still questionable how well they work). There are some totally meaningless statements about supporting fair use, but no details on how that's actually to be done. In other words, these principles are basically "everyone should install filters that block unauthorized content and... uh... the content companies will remain aware that fair use sort of exists sometimes." That's somewhat meaningless. Google's reason for not joining, even though it has come up with its own filters, is that it doesn't see why it should agree to stand by any specific guidelines that go above and beyond what the law requires, as there could be conditions under which such guidelines hold back necessary innovation. The bigger point, though, is how truly meaningless these guidelines are. If those guidelines are truly effective in stopping some unauthorized content on these sites, that content (and many users) will simply migrate elsewhere. In other words, it won't stop that unauthorized use of content and it won't help any of the companies that have agreed to the principles. That means that the impact of such things is likely to be pretty much nil.
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