We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, May 28. 2008
Old Gorilla v. Young Gorilla: Viacom is suing YouTube owner Google for copyright infringements. (Thanks, reader.)
I know nothing about copyright law, but it would seem to me that different sorts of internet ISPs and sites present different sorts of legal complications, eg whether commercial or non-commercial, whether a site is a billboard, or whether the use is innocent or educational. For example, the Liquid Kelp image posted earlier today may be a copyrighted image (I have no idea whether it is), but its appearance here consists of an unpaid advertisement for which the company would surely be grateful.
A case might be made that posting major chunks of news or commentary from a newspaper, magazine or other website constitutes a copyright violation, even with attribution. However, much interesting stuff, the provenance of which is unknown and indeterminable, rockets around the internet via email and websites and ends up on posts - jokes, images, stories, videos, hoaxes, lies, quotes, etc. Who knows who produces and sends out all that fun stuff into cyberspace? Nobody, except the first person who emailed it, created it, or posted it.
Blogs and other websites present interesting new areas for law to romp and play in. It's the wild West. Nobody violates a copyright malevolently, or without attribution if known. I did find the following quote at this interesting site for bloggers:
Editor's comment: Any original material clearly identifiable as being produced by us at Maggie's Farm is not copyrighted at all. Not even Creative Commons: our original stuff is free for the borrowing, stealing, or linking. However, we appreciate and expect attribution just as we offer attribution to others whenever we are able to: "Do unto others..." "Fair use" and "public domain" get complicated when we are talking about email and websites. Our general disclaimer is that we are a non-commercial amateur site, and cannot always determine where some content or images originated. If asked, we will gladly and respectfully take down, link, or attribute any copyrighted material which we have innocently, educationally, or unknowingly posted or linked.
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"an unpaid advertisement for which the company would surely be grateful."
ONe might make the same argument for snippets from Family Guy and Star Wars which proliferate on YouTube. But that's just what Viacom is fighting, primarily because Google has deep pockets. If they prevail, though, who's to say what's next, and how deep in the internet ecosystem the effects might reach? As I recall, it was not long ago a certain video was pulled off this very site in order to play it safe re copyright. Should the court rule for Viacom, don't think it won't affect you. The writing is on the wall - your ISP would be threatened first (they have the money), and they will in turn pressure you.
I just added a note to this post.
What Viacom doesn't seem to recognize is how much free attention their productions get from things like Youtube. It is free advertising.
Oh, yeah. The big media corporations are clueless. What they really want is for everything to go back the way things used to be - three TV networks, one or two newspapers and radio stations in every town, a handful of magazines and records labels, and a couple dozen movies a year. That's a business model they can understand: No competition. The heads of most of these media companies, really, are just leeches. Right now, they want to latch on to Google and see what they can suck out of them.
If Google prevails, nothing will change. If they lose, it'll change the culture, and I think you'll see a certain amount of shakedown artistry from some of these guys. The recording industry has been doing it for years, actually, so you can get an idea of what that would look like. They've put a real crimp in internet radio, if you've been following that. Internet broadcasting used to be MUCH more robust and varied, but the RIAA (I think it was them) insisted on HIGHER royalties per song than traditional broadcasters pay. (I actually think over-the-air broadcasters had some undue influence here.) The same thing is going on, right now, with Apple. Apple wants users to be able to buy music ON THEIR iPHONES, which they cannot do right now. The RIAA wants MORE money for tunes delivered that way. Why? Just because they figure they can steal from Apple. There's absolutely no other reason - the music delivered that way costs NOTHINg more to produce.
This is hard to believe, right? But this is what everyone who runs a blog is facing - a potential shakedown by anyone who holds any kind of IP copyright. They would start coming out of the woodwork, especially for sites that, for example, use celebrity images. (No big loss as far as I am concerned, but that is one BIG swath of territory!)
Here's a post on the recording industry's mentality, as seen from the inside:
Here's a post re the recording industry's attempted hijacking of Apple:
And here's an observation allegedly from Hunter S. Thompson:
Intellectual property. First use. Right to profit from that.
I don't buy the free advertising angle. Not so much different than the Cuban artist's previewed earlier.
Sure, the bottle of sea kelp just an image.
Though I empathize with the idea of it's all just grist for the mill... I think it is good that Viacom brings the question to the forefront.
I don't know... it just seems like anarchy is now acceptable when it comes to the internet... and music, and movies, and books, and privileged thought. Are we approaching the point where no one owns anything.
A common, or hive mind so to speak... dang, sounds familiar and ominous.
What's particularly disturbing is the way it seems like "corporate ego" is driving so many YouTube takedowns. For example, someone linked to a Rick Monday baseball clip the other day, so I clicked on it and... "This video has been removed by Major League Baseball." The question is, why? Does Major League Baseball think, because I can't see the clip, that I'll immediately dash out to Dodger Stadium hoping to catch Rick Monday in action?
Another oddity are old music video clips, the originals aired on TV. What we get is the crap taken by somebody's $29 disposable camcorder. Do the powers that be think we're going to be watching these original clips on MTV and VH1 instead, spending our hard-earned dollars on the advertisers? Yeah, 15 years ago when MTV and VH1 actually played music videos, but not today. So why take them down? Like I said, it seems at some point it's more petulant 'ego' than anything else. "It's mine and nobody else can have it, even though I'm not using it!"
Regarding Viacom, I don't see any particular impact on small sites if they win. Remember, it's going to take a lawyer to lodge a copyright violation complaint, and it's doubtful some company is going to spend $250 because some backwater blogsite has posted a pic from their site. It'll be the sites in the public eye that bear the brunt, and, for that matter, I don't see much left to remove. If there's even a taint of copyright infringement these days, the file's gone in a heartbeat. Conversely, if something's on YouTube, like 'Universe' is, you can bet good money it's not copyrighted.
As a small aside, there's an error in the BBC article. It implies that 'Inconvenient Truth' has been watched on YouTube "1.5 billion times", but the original statement referred to all copyrighted videos, not just 'Inconvenient Truth', for the (somewhat doubtful) 1.5 billion category.
I seriously doubt that a billion people would want to watch the Al Gore Show.
For a while, Dr. Evil was writing for the BBC. Hence the disparity. http://tinyurl.com/4lpwpp