Not Just YouTube's Copyright School Video That Has Problems... The Quizzes Are Misleading Too

from the not-good dept

YouTube and Google have been getting slammed in various circles for its weak "copyright school" video that it makes those accused of infringing copyrights on YouTube watch. Apparently the "copyright school" also has a quiz they want people to take, and people examining those questions are also finding some serious problems with them:
Question 4 on my quiz read: "Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is ________ without the permission of the copyright owner:" and then asked me to choose between reproduction, distribution, performance, and public display (or all of the above).  Two problems here.  First, section 106 only gives authors the right to public performance, not all performance.  Second, the question assumes that if you don't have the copyright owner's permission you must be infringing, when the Copyright Act has no fewer than sixteen separate sections that establish limitations and exceptions to the author's rights (sections 107-122).  For example, if your use is a fair use, you need no permission whatsoever from the author, and you've committed no copyright violation.  What's more, Google knows this, because it's relied on these statutory exceptions in court time and time and time [pdf] again.  I don't think Google actually means to take a "fair use for me but not for thee" position, so perhaps we can give Google the benefit of the doubt and assume it was intended as a trick question.

When I refreshed the page to take the quiz again I saw more questions that caused concern.  "The following is not a good subject for your YouTube videos...."  But "good" is a normative term, and copyright law has nothing to do with whether your work is good or not--just because your use is legal doesn't make it good, and vice versa.  What Google really seemed to mean by "good" was "lower risk of infringement allegations."  Again, as a private company it's Google's prerogative to decide what videos it wants to encourage users to post based on its own value judgments, but this seems to go against YouTube's reputation as an open space for users to create and express themselves freely.
It goes on along those lines. There are some serious problems with the quiz questions. That said, what this really demonstrates is just how difficult it really is to explain today's copyright laws in a way that people understand them. That should be clearly seen as a problem with the law, not a problem of education.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:28am

    Does anyone really look at these videos? No one cares about it so no one is going to look at them.

    People will always do what they want using the path of least resistance.

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

  2. identicon
    John Doe, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    Google better be careful

    It would seem to me that Google better be careful with their copyright school or it will come back to bite them. RIAA, MPAA and everyone else will use the videos and quizzes to say "see, YouTube does infringe on copyrights!".

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

  3. icon
    Hiiragi Kagami (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:50am

    Am I the only person to see this education is a joke?

    I take no seriousness in Google's attempt at showing how ridiculous copyright issues are, especially given no one has been "sent" to this class for violations.

    It's kind of like FUNimation's "1337" filings over the One Piece anime. There's a joke to appease those too foolish to rely on laws which damage customer relations.

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

  4. identicon
    ConorT, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Offer Alternative Questions

    Could Techdirt perhaps put together 10-20 good questions that should be used in this quiz. Always so easy to complain - harder to do the work for a better alternative.

    I think if this site offered 20 factually correct questions and answers then why wouldn't Google at least consider using them.

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

  5. icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 6:25am

    Free in next week's issue....

    ...... magic decoder ring guaranteed to untangle any alleged infringement puzzle. Certified more accurate than legal proceedings.....

    Laws are supposed to be clearly written so you can easily tell if you're breaking one or not and courts are supposed to be there to determine the area of doubt in the small centre ground. When no-one, including the lawyers, can consistently point any given use and say "that's definitely OK" or "That's definitely bad" you just know it's bad law.

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

  6. icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 6:29am

    Re: Offer Alternative Questions

    As rude as this guy wrote it, he actually has a good idea. It could be a collaborative thing, the "TechDirt Community Copyright Quiz".

    I'll start: Does Little Kuriboh violate copyright?
    A) No, it's fair use
    B) Hell no
    C) That Japanese guy needs to stop spamming the report button
    D) All of the above.

    OK, I'd be bad at making questions.

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

  7. identicon
    CommonSense, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    Re: Offer Alternative Questions

    Why should Techdirt do it?? Why won't you??

    This post explains that the whole quiz idea is bad because it's very difficult if not impossible to come up with factually correct, unambiguous questions relating to copyright. What in that imaginary world you live in makes you think Techdirt should contribute to this problem, instead of continuing to shine a light on the problem in hopes of actually getting it fixed??

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

  8. identicon
    Michael, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 6:35am

    Future court cases

    How long is it going to be before someone sues Google and uses their own videos as evidence that they can determine if something has violated copyright?

    If they are found to be violating copyright either directly or through secondary liability, do these videos not make their violations willful?

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 6:49am

    If William Patry had anything to do with this garbage then I want my money back for buying his book. :(

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

  10. icon
    DH's Love Child (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:19am

    Re: Offer Alternative Questions

    The problem is that you practically need a law degree to understand copyright anymore, so the questions would have to be ridiculously simple for a layperson to be able to answer them.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:19am

    Google is just being conservative, it's easier to avoid violation by avoiding all uses ahead of time than it is to argue fair use after the fact, so they figure it's better we take a conservative stance for our own protection.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: Offer Alternative Questions

    The problem is that there is no simple answer when it comes to most questions concerning copy'right'.

    Is it a violation of copy'right' to do x?

    The answer, it depends on the judges opinion. Will the judge deem it fair use? Will the judge deem it infringement? Flip a coin and decide.

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

  13. identicon
    Loonesta, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:26am

    I have more of a problem w/ the incorrect use of noun & verbal tenses in question 4. The choices offered, if verbatim in this post, seem jarringly awkward when inserted into the blank provided. Who can take seriously a scold who's unable to scold like a pro in their language of choice?

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

  14. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re: Offer Alternative Questions

    2nd Question: You're walking in Chicago's Millenium Park and you're awed by the massive metal reflective bean that has been put up to draw tourist attraction. You know your friends back home would be interested in the sights of the Windy City, so you use your smart phone to make a quick movie. Should you:

    A. Upload that movie to YouTube instantly using the handy dandy button on your smart phone, thereby instantly sharing your joy and experience with your friends and others

    B. Attempt to track down a park district worker (best of luck) to inquire about the copyright restrictions on photos of The Bean, be returned with a blank stare, look for such restrictions online, find nothing, ask a the ward's Alderman and only get questions about campaign contributions, and then finally give up when five hours later a bowel movement provides more pressing concerns

    C. Scratch your head wondering why anyone would think a giant bean was art, unzip your trousers, urinate on The Bean, and then begin a merry Blues Brothers like car chase with the Chicago police that will inexplicably end with a fiery car crash directly into the main concourse of Wrigley Field

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:28am


    For example, have you ever played minesweeper? If you step anywhere on the field there is a chance you might get hit by a mine. The best way for Google to ensure that no one runs into any of those mines, and perhaps to avoid being possibly liable for potentially directing anyone else into those mines (or to avoid the bad PR associated with such), is to recommend that people avoid stepping on the field altogether.

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

  16. icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:42am

    Possible answers for question 4

    "rebroadcast without the express written consent"
    "taken across state lines"
    "commented on"
    "folded, spindled or mutilated"
    "used to buy alcohol for minors"

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

  17. icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:57am

    Re: Offer Alternative Questions

    You only need one question:

    Q. Do you have money to fight the record companies in court?
    A. If you answered "no", you're infringing.

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

  18. icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:57am

    Re: Possible answers for question 4

    You forgot "Quantum Cat" and "Spiderman".

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

  19. identicon
    Anon, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re:

    Ahh, but in minesweeper the first step will never land you on a mine.

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

  20. identicon
    ConorT, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    Re: Offer Alternative Questions

    To elaborate - I wasn't having a go at techdirt for not sorting this problem out, but rather asking could it offer a solution.

    You can bet when Google asked why should they write the questions and the RIAA said we'll right them. You can review and ok them. Hense the bias.

    Saying it is impossible to have valid questions isn't the answer either. I can't write them because I'd get them wrong. How is asking for help a bad thing?

    You could totally take the exemptions mentieond in the article to create better questions. Which of these cases is not infringement A B C.

    Trying to be constructive.

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

  21. icon
    Overcast (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 8:55am

    What concept was most likely the core reason for large amounts of record sales historically?

    1. DRM
    2. Free Broadcast on the Radio
    3. Copyright Law
    4. The US Congress

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

  22. icon
    PaulT (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 9:28am


    So blatant hypocrisy is OK as long as nobody's paying attention? It's OK for people to break copyright law as long as their audience is small enough? What are you saying here?

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

  23. icon
    Any Mouse (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Possible answers for question 4

    This almost reads like the lyrics to a Daft Punk song.

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

  24. icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes it can, you just got lucky.

    The only way not to step on a mine is not to pay, and that's no way to go threw life.

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

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:28pm

    Re: Re: Offer Alternative Questions

    The point is there aren't many "correct" answers, because the law is written poorly. If lawyers and judges have a difficult time coming to conclusions in these matters (worse yet, different courts coming to different conclusions on similar cases), how is the average person supposed to figure it all out.

    Until copy'right' law is changed there are no correct questions, much less answers.

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

  26. icon
    Togashi (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 9:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If I remember correctly, there is actually code such that, if your very first click is on a square that had randomly been assigned as a mine, it moves that mine to one of the corners (I can't remember which).

    Having played countless hours of Minesweeper and qualifying for its world high score board, I can confirm that I have never once hit a mine on the very first click. Second click, sure, but not first.

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

  27. icon
    Christopher (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I did many times. They must have added that after Windows 3.1.

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

  28. identicon
    Daryl McGarry, May 5th, 2011 @ 3:12pm

    Copyright School is a waste of time and effort!

    This entire idea is fucking stupid. Certain internet sites (Youtube) have been lowering the amount of things their users can do anyway.

    I cant even record a video of myself playing a game that i created in a room i decorated myself with my own musical composition in the background without fear of some random idiotic company (WMG, UMG, SMG, EMI) "thinking2 that they own part of it and posting a false claim...

    Anyway, 5 years ago Youtube was a far better website, it didnt matter what you uploaded or when, whether it was your stuff or someone elses... its only since these fatcat music companies started "funding" the site that theyve started being arseholes!!

    EVENTUALLY, one of these otions will happen:
    1, Youtube users will remove all videos and their accounts, thus making Youtube worthless...
    2, Youtube users will revolt and start hunting down these companies...
    3, Youtube users will start contacting ARTISTS directly to obtain consent so that WMG, SMG whoever cant say shit...

    fake accounts, spam accounts, false advertising videos, harrassment, harrassing accounts, fraudulent claims, crap adverts, bugs, errors, glitches...?

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

  29. identicon
    ruhab, May 20th, 2011 @ 12:29am


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

  30. identicon
    4ngel, Jul 13th, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    i have this so i been ignoring them and abandoned the channel. these are the questions i got"

    Please take a moment to watch this video on copyright and answer the following four questions.

    1. It’s fine to use someone else’s content as long as it already appears on YouTube.
    * True
    * False
    2. Copyright protection is only given to major film, television or recording corporations who pay for the privilege.
    * True
    * False
    3. If you misuse YouTube’s counter-notification process:
    1. a) Your YouTube account will be terminated
    2. b) You could end up in court
    3. c) Both a) and b)
    4. If you claim fair use in the video description, your video can't be considered copyright infringement.
    * True
    * False

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

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