Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Users are going to make copies of your copyright content, so you may as well get used to it and embrace it. Video content companies ought to make it even easier for “fans” to use unauthorized copyright content uploads, instead of trying to deprive them of the content they are “fanatics” about.

What will the video content owners really get out of their “fans” exploiting unauthorized uploads of their copyright content? That is still Googley “unclear.”

So sayeth Google CEO Erich Schmidt, as reported by one of ZDNet's blogging types in this article: Why Google will never pay for content.

Content owners are far from thrilled at the idea that Google can basically make a profit through advertising via people watching the video content on Youtube which Google didn't purchase and which is very frequently in blunt violation of copyright law (and I was enjoying those illegal uploads of entire episodes of NBC's series "Heroes" until the uploader's account was suspended, too. Damn the Man!).

I'm not sure how Us copyright law works in this situation. The DMCA provides a safe harbour for Google from prosecution for contributory copyright infringement if they're not notified that a copyright violation is occurring on their system I think. But if they're provided formal notification, then the allegedly infringing content must be removed (a so-called "DMCA takedown").

It seems both Google and content owners feel that this system as it currently stands is unworkable. The'yre probably right. The sheer volume of content involved makes formal notification difficult, and formal policing costly. A lot of the dispute seems to revolve around the policing. Content owners want Google to do the policing, but Google wants content owners to pay for the policing. Google call this a "service" I guess, but content owners apparently prefer to call it a "shakedown".

I suspect that there'll be a lot of lobbying for changes in US copyright law from both parties. Interesting to see who wins out. Content providers seem better established to demand a stricter enforcement regime than the DMCA allows through its pro-business position, but, bluntly, Google's CEO basically articulated what the vast majority of Youtube users actually want, ethics and law be damned. To quote from one of the many people who left comments praising the "Heroes" uploader's efforts in providing full episodes to those not in the US and who are blocked from watching at the official NBC website: "dude, you're the Robin Hood of Youtube". Google would have popular opinion on its side.

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