Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
authorized, copyright, dmca, videos

Companies:
google, viacom, youtube



Among The Clips That Viacom Sued Google Over, About 100 Were Uploaded By Viacom Itself

from the sorta-demonstrates-the-problem,-doesn't-it? dept

Copyright maximalists who hate the DMCA's safe harbors often claim that service providers can easily tell what content is infringing and which is not. This is, in fact, a key part of the argument made by Viacom in its lawsuit against Google over YouTube. It claims that YouTube must know that the clips are infringing and should be taken down. There's just one problem: even Viacom doesn't seem to know which clips are infringing and which are not. It turns out that, among the many YouTube clips included in the lawsuit, approximately 100 were uploaded on purpose by Viacom. Yes, you read that right:

Viacom sued Google over clips it claimed were infringing, that Viacom purposely uploaded to YouTube.

That alone should show how ridiculous Viacom's claims are in this lawsuit. There is simply no way for Google to know if clips are uploaded legitimately or not. Oddly, however, the court has now allowed Viacom to withdraw those clips, but lawyers like Eric Goldman are questioning how this isn't a Rule 11 violation for frivolous or improper litigation. But, more importantly, it demonstrates that even Viacom has no idea which clips are infringing and which are authorized. Given that, how can it possibly say that it's reasonable for Google to know?

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  1. identicon
    Michael, 31 Dec 2009 @ 4:34am

    Re: It is *possible* to ID unauthorized content

    It is not possible, from a technical standpoint, to identify infringing content for a number of reasons.

    First, it is clear that many of the rights holders do not know what they own. We have seen a bunch of cases recently in which content holders are suing over content they do not actually own. In addition, we have companies re-recording music (in some way) and claiming a new copyright over it - and the courts have yet to determine if this is infringing, or a new copyright.

    Second, there would need to be some kind of database to check content against. A system for copyright in which you have to upload music so Google can compare to it. This does not exist and I'm sure the record companies would find it a burden to build and maintain.

    Next, the courts have not managed to figure out how much content is infringing. Is a 5 second clip enough? So does Google need to compare parts of clips to see if they infringe? What if someone uploads 3 5 second clips of different songs stuck together in a single mp3? If the sampling rate is changed (making it a totally different file) should it still match to the huge "content database"?

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