Tuesday, March 23, 2010

IP Sharing

I've been asked to serve as the "foreign correspondent" for the US by a group of much more qualified international IP commentators on the "IP > sharing" website.

My first post is a response to my colleague Hendrick Jan POT, who pointed out the very embarrassing revelation that Viacom, suing YouTube for knowingly profiting from illegal content, was posting its own videos disguised as user-generated content. Viacom's viral marketers were apparently not communicating very well with in-house counsel.

I felt the need to add to Jan's post, rightly critical of Viacom, with some unsavory revelations from the YouTube / Google side.

Here's a link to Jan's post, and a copy of my response below:

Viacom v. YouTube: More than One Smoking Gun

Another point of view to supplement Hendrick Jan Pot’s entry on the Viacom / YouTube court documents unsealed March 18.

Viacom’s uploading its own content looks bad, but doesn’t directly affect the legal issues in the case. YouTube’s not now presenting an “unclean hands” defense; instead, it’s now saying that the presence of authorized content made it impossible for it to recognize unauthorized content. The argument’s meant to bolster claims of good-faith compliance with the DMCA, and to suggest YouTube wasn’t trying to profit from infringement. It was just the victim of infringement’s ineffable unknowability.

Some embarrassing revelations from the YouTube side undercut these claims.

Co-founder Steve Chen admits 80% of YouTube’s value is due to illegal content, but says the founders’ aims were to “build…up our numbers as aggressively as we can through whatever tactics, however evil.” According to co-founder Jawed Karim, the goal was to build a giant user base and cash out. “Our dirty little secret…is that we actually just want to sell out quickly.”

Internal memos show resistance to removing content for fear of losing traffic. One suggests taking down illegally uploaded movies and television shows, but leaving “comedy clips (Conan, Leno, etc)” and music videos, presumably until forced to take them down. Chen tells one worrier: “I really don’t see what will happen. what? someone from cnn sees it? he happens to be someone with power?”

The documents also show amnesia on the part of parent Google on its purchase of a site that might be profiting from illegal content. According to Viacom, co-founder Larry Page “disclaimed memory on any topic relevant to [the] litigation.”

Viacom’s uploading of its programs disguised as user-generated content is an embarrassing revelation, but legally, YouTube’s documents (suggesting a policy of knowing profit) will probably prove more damaging.

Source: Here

1 comment:

  1. I also read that YouTube was leaving up known illegal content that was getting a lot of hits (like the SNL video "Lazy Sunday") and using it to illustrate how popular YouTube was! So uncool.

    As an aside, if you go on YouTube now you can find a user-generated Lazy Sunday video...clearly showing the video playing on someone's Hulu screen, NBC peacock and all:


    Why watch a video on one free site just to post it to another? Was it some kind of copyleft Robin Hood type? No, just two teenage girls (presumably not NBC employees). The mind boggles.