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4.2.2. YouTube 

Content

1. Prologue

2. Digital Piracy

3.Copyright Law in Singapore

4. Case Studies of Digital Piracy

   4.1. Music Industry

   4.2. Motion Picture Industry

         4.2.1. ODEX

         4.2.2. YouTube

              4.2.2.1. Background

              4.2.2.2. Copyright "Crisis"

              4.2.2.3. Dealing with Copyright Issues

5. Current Information on Digital Piracy

6. Opinions on Digital Piracy


4.2.2.1. Background

YouTube.com was launched on February 15, 2005 by partners, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, as a whole new experience on the Web for users to share and view original videos worldwide online. YouTube allows people to easily upload videos clips and share them across the Internet through websites, blogs, forums, mobile devices, and emails. Its popularity has taken on an exponential growth since then, making it one of the most popular and rapidly rising stars on the Internet. Today, this hot service is a platform that uses Adobe Flash Player technology to broadcast an extensive variety of User-Generated (video) Content that includes movie clips, music videos, songs, tv clips, news reports, animations, videoblogging, orginal home videos, commercials, and many more.

On 6 October 2006, merely within a year of its activation, YouTube was officially snapped over by Google Inc. for US$1.65 million in a stock-for-stock transaction [DLera:1]. YouTube would continue to operate independently in order to retain her brand image and enthusiastic community of users, with her 65 employees abiding in the company headquarters in San Bruno, CA. This aquisition, which synergizes a poweful online video entertainment platform with a technological leader in search and advertising, was by far Google's largest purchase in her then 8-year history[DLera:2]. Sharing similar values in placing their users' online experience first, the integration of the companies aim to innovate and create a comprehensive and compelling exposure for users, content owners, and advertisers.


4.2.2.2. Copyright "Crisis"

YouTube has been receiving frequent complaints and disparagement regarding the infringement of copyright laws, claiming that it has failed to prevent users from uploading copyrighted online content. Chains of criticisms and lawsuits have been filed against YouTube deriving from large firms such as Time Warner (Oct, 06), a group of Japanese content producers (Dec, 06), 20th Century Fox (Jan, 07), Viacom (Mar, 07), English Premier League (May, 07), and the latest, an Italian media company, Mediaset (Jul, 08) [DLera:3][DLera:4][DLera:5][DLera:6][DLera:7][DLera:8].

Since YouTube functions on User-Generated Content, clips are not vetted or viewed by YouTube before they are being uploaded. Instead, the onus lies in the hands of users in making the final decision of abiding to the guidelines or ignoring the warnings. Prior to the uploading of a video, the following is displayed visibly as a reminder to users:

'Do not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts, or commercials without permission unless they consist entirely of content you created yourself. The Copyright Tips page and the Community Guidelines can help you determine whether your video infringes someone else's copyright

By clicking "Upload Video," you are representing that this video does not violate YouTube's Terms of Use and that you own all copyrights in this video or have authorization to upload it.' 

In addition, before a user may upload any videos, he/she is required to register as an online member to the site, and thus has already been reminded with a similar notice during the sign up process (click here) [DLera:9]. Despite these warnings and advices, uploading of unauthorized content of TV clips, music videos, films and animations is still rampant. According to Viacom, almost 160,000 of its video clips have been uploaded to YouTube without permission and viewing counts have gone up to more than 1.5 billion [DLera:10]. Viacom, an entertainment giant that owns property such as MTV, Comedy Central, DreamWorks, and Paramount Pictures, has blasted YouTube and parent company, Google Inc., in March, 2007 with one of the most heated lawsuit of its kind, claiming more than $1 billion in damage. A month prior to that, Viacom had also ignited a fuss by demanding that YouTube remove more than 100,000 of its clips.

In its complaint, Viacom charged that "YouTube's brazen disregard of the intellectual-property laws fundamentally threatens not just plantiffs but the economic underpinnings of one of the most important sectors of the United States economy." It also claimed that the video-sharing site had purposefully refuse to take precautionary deterrence against copyright violation and had done so because they gain direct benefits and profits from the popularity of these infringing content on its site. Viacom further added that in order to compel copyright holders into a collaboration of offering licenses over their materials, YouTube has deliberately held back available copyright protection controls. Some suggested that Viacom's negotiation with YouTube had not been going on well, with the former being more assertive and harsh as compared to other complainants; Twentieth Century Fox Film spokesman supported in saying that Viacom's complaint was far more agressive than any actions his company had taken against YouTube.

Other than just relying on uploaders' discretion in posting videos, YouTube encourages rights holders to report cases of copyright infringements on their site and will only respond accordingly when it receives a take down notice from copyright holders. This practice is in compliance to the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act ("OCILLA") of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which creates a "safe harbour" for online service providers (OSPs) such as YouTube, against copyright liability as long as they comply to certain safe harbour guidelines. One of which is that OSPs are to promptly block access to allegedly infringing material or remove such material when they receive a notification claiming infringement from a copyright holder or the copyright holder's agent.

Nevertheless, some copyright holders claim that this is arbitrary, as companies are coerced to dedicate time and funds into monitoring other sites. According to an unknown source from within Viacom, the company is perpetually supporting an entirely new department to keep an eye over YouTube. YouTube, however, rely on the terms of the DMCA very closely and argues that not only does it meet requirements, it has gone above and beyond to assist content providers in identifying copyrighted videos. Google braced in a statement that YouTube is a great platform for copyright holders to interact with the growing community, promote to the young and recptive audience, as well as monetize their materials by tap into the the online advertising industry. Many large companies such as Warner Music Group, CBS, and BBC, have recognised these benefits, and have reacted by successfully negotiating licensing deals with YouTube. Viacom, however, is amongst some of the entertainment conglomerates that have yet to collorate with the Google division.


4.2.2.3. Dealing With Copyright Issues

YouTube has always been vigilent in offering deterence against the infringment of copyright on its site through warnings, advices, informative explanations, online limitations, automatic content matching, as well as the option for copyright holders to report copyright violations. Considering the nature of YouTube as a free video sharing service provider, there is no way to efficiently keep track of and view videos before they are being uploaded onto the site. Hence, YouTube's approach of the problem was to educate the mass through various means and allow copyright holders to voice out against non-adhering users and contents.

YouTube limits uploaded contents to a maximum of 10mins in length, hence allowing only clips and snippets of (advisably) home-made videos to be uploaded. This also deters attempts to introduce films, musicals, and other copyrighted performances, as most of these come in high video quality and lengths that far exceed YouTube's limitation of 10mins.

The most consistent method amongst YouTube's efforts of deterrence is the education of the community. As mentioned in the above section (4.2.2.2.) of this page, very visible and easily understood messages are posted on the site when users sign up as members and when they are about to upload each video clip. These warnings are very clear and do not pose any forms of ambiguity. In addition, YouTube also provide links to definitions of Copyright Infringement and explanations of tips for identifying if a material is considered as copyrighted [DLera:11]. Education, although is a passive approach towards the prevention of copyright infringement, is also one of the few useful methods YouTube can utilize.

With frequent bombardment and lawsuits filed against YouTube since it was first established, one new measure taken by the defendant was the introduction of a new tool in its copyright policy. This Video Identification tool allows copyright holders to easily identify and manage materials that are uploaded onto YouTube [DLera:12]. Materials submitted by content owners are first stored in a reference library and are assigned with ID files or "fingerprints" by a Google software. When YouTube users upload a video, the tool runs the library of ID files against this video, and if a match is identified, policy preferences made by the copyright holder, which includes blocking, tracking or monetising, will be applied to this video.


References
  1. http://www.google.com/press/pressrel/google_youtube.html
  2. http://mashable.com/2006/10/09/confirmed-google-buys-youtube/
  3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2006/oct/13/digitalmedia.citynews
  4. http://www.cio.com/article/27759/YouTube_Doesn_t_Satisfy_Japan_Copyright_Complaints?page=1
  5. http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2173558/fox-sues-youtube-simpson-piracy
  6. http://www.cio.com/article/32455/Viacom_Slaps_Google_with_B_YouTube_Lawsuit_UPDATED_?page=1
  7. http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/usa/news/article_1300511.php/English_Premier_League_sues_YouTube_for_copyright_violations
  8. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10002413-93.html
  9. http://www.youtube.com/signup?next_url=/index&
  10. http://news.cnet.com/Viacom-sues-Google-over-YouTube-clips/2100-1030_3-6166668.html
  11. http://www.youtube.com/t/howto_copyright
  12. http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=83766&hl=en-uk
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2 Comments

  1. Unknown User (u0807172)

    I made a few small changes in order to make the whole Wiki project more uniform.

  2. Unknown User (u0807182)

    Kelvin, error generated. Just in case u missed it. Anyway let me know after u done with your anchoring. I'll do the linking.