Skip

The Man Who Could Kill YouTube
July 16, 2007 8:13 AM   Subscribe

The Man Who Could Kill YouTube. Bob Tur is the little guy who is suing one giant (Google) to do what another giant (Viacom) probably never will -- shut YouTube down
posted by srboisvert (206 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Is anyone here using Joost, by the by?
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:17 AM on July 16, 2007


He sees his suit as a backlash against Web 2.0 new-media demagoguery -- a check on the Shawn Fannings, the Toms from MySpace, and the Chad Hurleys and Steve Chens, who have built empires, he claims, not by creating but by figuring out how to redistribute content online.

The nerve!
posted by DU at 8:18 AM on July 16, 2007


I can see where he is coming from, but still, Christ, what an asshole.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:32 AM on July 16, 2007


I got into Joost. It's alright (Strangers With Candy on demand!!). The ads are mostly harmless, as the commercial breaks are under 30 seconds, but I'm sure thats just because of lack of userbase. There's also pop up ads every now and then, but they are small and easy to ignore. The real problem with Joost is that the quality isn't that great on my ginormous 24" widescreen LCD. You can tell it's pixelly.

As far as this Bob Tur goes, I'd just like to tell him thank you, for ruining it for everyone. I hope his dumb helicopter crashes.
posted by Mach5 at 8:33 AM on July 16, 2007


I love how he's valiantly defending his rights to make money off of a famous snuff video. "Hey, I knew white people were gonna get killed, so that's why I grabbed my camera."

What a cock. Maybe he's more worried that now anyone with a camera can record their own jackass-style snuff video and publish it in minutes.
posted by fungible at 8:34 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


At forty-seven, he's had five angioplasties, three technical heart attacks, and a triple bypass, and he still does triathlons.

"I'm going broke," he says. "I've mortgaged my kids' futures for these cases. I've lost my wife -- she got tired of fighting and wanted more security. I've almost died from the stress of it.

and all so, years from now, he can chase you-tube like sites out of the country where american law can't touch them and he won't be able to do much about it

brilliant!
posted by pyramid termite at 8:37 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hope nobody ever tries to make millions of dollars by selling a video of me getting hit in the face with a brick.
posted by washburn at 8:41 AM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


pt, I was about to quote those same two passages. The real tragedy here is the kids, who get to look forward to growing up saddled with their late father's legal debts once the stress finally kills him.
posted by Partial Law at 8:41 AM on July 16, 2007


You know, for someone who's made their mint documenting violent civil dissent, he sure seems like a whiny pussy.
posted by Peter H at 8:43 AM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think the money shot is this:

"Look around. It's laughable to say the Internet discourages creativity. If these guys can't figure out a way to make money online, they should find another business. The Constitution doesn't guarantee Viacom long-term profitability."

Which, if you agree with, makes this statement below far more sad:

"I'm going broke," he says. "I've mortgaged my kids' futures for these cases. I've lost my wife -- she got tired of fighting and wanted more security. I've almost died from the stress of it. But the incentive must be to create. And if someone like me doesn't stand up for content creators, we sure as hell can't count on the big corporations to do it for us."
posted by Green With You at 8:47 AM on July 16, 2007


Over the years, he estimates, the Denny tape has generated about $5 million in licensing fees.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know how much of the profits Tur donated to Denny?
posted by Greg Nog at 8:50 AM on July 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


laffo fungible. I thought your posts were a little cock-heavy all the sudden.

Partial Law writes "pt, I was about to quote those same two passages. The real tragedy here is the kids, who get to look forward to growing up saddled with their late father's legal debts once the stress finally kills him."

The existence of YouTube is the very reason that I look both ways twice before crossing a street and/or don't cross-dress at a kegger. I couldn't live that shit down.

And as much as this guy wants to make it about standing up for the content creators, the fact that his immediate family is suffering, to me, is pretty sad.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:58 AM on July 16, 2007


The suit against YouTube that bears watching is the class action, which is not the Viacom suit mentioned in this article.
posted by exogenous at 8:58 AM on July 16, 2007


Interesting that the wikipedia entry for Reginald Denny mentions Bob Tur by name three times, and includes a section devoted to his Denny-related litigation.
posted by googly at 9:05 AM on July 16, 2007


I don't understand the resentment directed at Tur in this thread -- I think he makes some very good points. He's right that YouTube is making enormous profits from somebody else's work. It doesn't matter that Tur makes his money from shooting other people in public; that's not the issue. I admit I'd be sad to see YouTube be sued into closing, but the fact is they are profiting from thousands and thousands of videos that they have no right to profit from. And why should it be the content creator's job to police the copyright infringers? That makes no sense, YouTube should be policing themselves. If that's not reasonably possible then they should shut down.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:14 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Over the years, he estimates, the Denny tape has generated about $5 million in licensing fees. But Tur has spent almost an equal amount filing lawsuits to protect his content.

Which means he is an idiot. I'm not surprised his wife left him.

He could have enjoyed his good fortune and been wealthy, or else he could have driven himself to a divorce, an early grave, and financial ruin over "the principle of the thing".

He should go work for the RIAA. He'd fit right in there, waging losing battles, tilting at windmills, spending more to protect "content" than what its worth.

Dinosaurs in a digital world. He's been left behind at the speed of fiber, and he's not one wit happy about it, so he's fighting the inevitable down to his last penny.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:15 AM on July 16, 2007


I'm awaiting an Edward Tufte-like treatment that shows the maximum asshole level on Earth staying pretty consistent from the time of the Pharaohs through Feudalism in Europe, a couple of spikes in the first half of the twentieth century and then going asymptotic around 2000. Way to fight for your right to make money of a video of someone else getting stomped, Joan of Arc.
posted by yerfatma at 9:22 AM on July 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


If they ever shut down youtube, there would be rioting in the streets.
posted by empath at 9:26 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


And when it does, I'll be in a helicopter filming that guy getting a brick to the face.
posted by empath at 9:27 AM on July 16, 2007


I'm torn on this, mostly because the guy seems like such an opportunistic jerk. On one hand, it being up to him to troll YouTube daily to make sure that his copyrighted material isn't being posted without his permission, and for possible profit for someone else, seems onerous. But on the other hand (there are going to be a lot of hands in this argument), it seems ridiculous that he could copyright film of someone else getting nearly beaten to death and profit from that himself; where is the right of the person being filmed to say "I don't want that broadcast?" That's an actual question, by the way, I don't know anything about this area and if he had to get permission from Denny to sell and/or air that film, I'm unaware of it. If it's the case that he can film anything he wants and sell it because it's news - well, then that sucks and he should STFU.

The fact is that material owned by actual people is being put up on YouTube by other people, and a major corporation is selling ad space and profiting from it. If the person who owns the material asks to have it removed and it is, then problem solved. If it is actually YouTube's (a/k/a Google's) position that any copyrighted material that shows up on their site is unintentional and not part of their plan, then there should be some vetting of the submissions to make sure it doesn't happen. If that is not their position, and they think that anything that is submitted should be left up their regardless of its provenance and ownership, then that's a whole other issue.

I'm betting that most of us would be flattered if something we knocked off in our spare time got put up on YouTube and watched by thousands (or even hundreds) of people, and may not give a second thought to intellectual property or copyright issues. But if it was our job, our career, our life, the way it seems to be to this guy, we might think differently. As usual with these things, I don't think it's such an easy, black-and-white issue, and it's too easy to dismiss this guy because he's a litigious jerk. I think it's something that should be thought about and discussed with some degree of seriousness, and if this is how it gets done, then so be it.
posted by jennaratrix at 9:39 AM on July 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


And why should it be the content creator's job to police the copyright infringers? That makes no sense, YouTube should be policing themselves. If that's not reasonably possible then they should shut down.

How is that at all reasonable?

Is Matt supposed to be personally reading and verifying every comment made on MeFi?

What if I make a libelous comment against a public figure, and they demand it be taken down, then a week later in another thread someone else repeats the same libelous comment? Since Matt isn't proactively policing it, he should shut down?

Absurd.

Just like ANY OTHER form of policing, it happens AFTER THE FACT.

You are given a ticket for speeding AFTER you speed. You are arrested for disorderly conduct AFTER you act disorderly. You are sued for libel or slander AFTER you libel or slander. Counterfeit bills are confiscated AFTER they are counterfeited.

YouTube is doing the only thing that is reasonable: taking down copyrighted videos after they are alerted to their presence. To even suggest there is another reasonable expectation is ridiculous.

I don't want to rant here, but it's the same argument Hollywood made against the VCR or that publishers made against the Xerox machine, that allowing mere mortals the ability to copy content would drive the content creators out of business.

Now look... Hollywood makes more on Home Video releases than they do the box office, and publishers are now working with Xerox to make on-demand bound books at the consumer level.

CNN just recently ended their paid premium video service, and made it free to everyone. They finally figured out they were costing themselves money trying to meter this "good" that has become, essentially, free.

I'm betting about right now he wishes he still had the $5 mil and was at least 2 bypasses poorer.

Building sandcastles against the tide. Whether it is old media or individuals, the outcome will be the same.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:41 AM on July 16, 2007 [9 favorites]


Oddly enough, YouTube is the reason I do crossdress at a kegger. I'm not about to track down fishnet stockings in my size just to entertain three dozen people who won't remember it the next day.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 9:42 AM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I've always been confused by this whole Internet "piracy" thing. Could someone explain to me in plain English why it's OK to steal things on the Internet, but not at the corner store? Maybe it's just silly me, but I can't figure it out.
posted by MarshallPoe at 9:48 AM on July 16, 2007


information wants to be free, and snuff videos are a form of information. screw this one-man riaa. i'm happy his wife left him, and i don't give a rip about his kids.
posted by bruce at 9:48 AM on July 16, 2007


YouTube is doing the only thing that is reasonable: taking down copyrighted videos after they are alerted to their presence. To even suggest there is another reasonable expectation is ridiculous.

The other reasonable expectation is "don't be in a business that invites people to upload material that makes you liable for copyright infringement."

Napster was shut down via this same argument. Sure, there was plenty of indie, non-infringing music on Napster, but that's not the point. It facilitated infringement.

The law is full of cases where you are liable for creating a set-up that invites, encourages and/or rewards people to do harm to themselves or others, even if you yourself doesn't actually do anything to specifically cause the harm. Example: You shouldn't put playground equipment on your front lawn, because you're de facto inviting kids to come play on it, with all the liability that entails.

The law is the law. We can change the law if it's found wanting (it is). But let's not pretend the law is irrelevant simply because "information wants to be free."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:51 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, I can sympathize with what he's feeling, but there comes a point where you have to ask yourself "what are you fighting for?" and not settle for "MY RIGHTS!" as if that answered the question. specifically, what the hell right is it that he imagines he has that youtube violates? the right to not have his material hosted on youtube? well, they don't violate that. they take own anything he tells them to. the right to have every video on the internet monitored to see if it's his before anyone in the world posts it? completely and utterly impossible. no one can vet your videos accurately enough except you, and no person or organization can vet all videos all the time. it's just not possible. if I own the copyright to a wedding video, no one's going to know that but me and the people I mention it to. And even if I put a "copyright 2007 shmegegge" notice on it, which (let's be honest) happens to approximately nothing that isn't intended for internet distribution in the first place, vetting every single user's identity with the identity of the copyright holder of a video by making someone watch every video to manually check for copyright graphics is absurd.

But then you think, "Hey, we're not talking about wedding videos here, we're talking about famous OJ and LA riots footage!" well, but Tur isn't specifically talking about that. He says it himself:

"If I believed Viacom would take the case far enough to set a precedent that might benefit small copyright owners, I would certainly step out of the way," says Tur. "But I don't believe they're serious. They want me out so they have more time to negotiate. I think the use of litigation to cut yourself better deals is despicable."

He's trying to set legal precedent that would necessarily have to apply across the board to protect small copyright holders, not just the big ones any boob would recognize when he saw it on youtube. But specifically, he's trying to set a precedent that says that all video uploaded to the web under any form must be vetted to determine if it's copyrighted and if the uploader owns the copyright. again, this is impossible for a site like youtube to actually do. So what is he trying to accomplish by demanding the impossible? He wants to make sure that sites like youtube, no matter how honestly they may be trying to make their living (and I have no intention of making claims to the apparent honesty or dishonesty of the youtube folks), cannot exist. That the business model of user uploaded immediately available streaming video completely disappears, indeed that user uploaded immediately available content of any kind completely disappears.

More generally, Tur is the kind of guy who says "It's not enough for the government to make something illegal and then offer me recourse to prosecute when that illegal action takes place." which is what happens in cases like ip theft or infringement. He wants to know that the entire mechanism which enabled the illegal activity, regardless of the inherent legality of the mechanism or its possibility to aid content creators, is hobbled by law to be nonfunctioning. It makes a certain sense if you see the internet the way we see the physical world. If someone makes a dub of your movie and sells it on the street, you can sue them and all that. If they bring it into a store and the store owner sees it and says "yeah, sure, I'll sell your bootleg video tape here." you want to know that you can sue the store owner, too, for taking part in the practice. Makes sense.

But the internet doesn't work that way. It's not a store owner looking at a bootleg tape and saying "Sure I'll sell it." that someone will then go up and buy instead of buying the more expensive legitimate copy. It's not a physical copy of anything, and it's not a product that could in all ways replace the functionality or purpose of the original. It can in certain ways, to be sure, and Tur should certainly have his legal recourse to take down the youtube videos. But, to take the example of Tur's product, these aren't things that you could for instance find in a blockbuster. You wouldn't find "Bob Tur's footage of the LA riots" on a shelf so that you could then pick it up and rent it. The purposes and functionality of his specific videos are different than that. He sells higher than consumer grade tape and the rights to distribute its content on consumer grade tape or transmission to content producers such as news programs, documentarians etc... None of them, not a single one, are ever going to take that footage off of youtube to put it on their show. The most you would ever see is a shot of the youtube website on some FOXNEWS "Is the internet stealing our culture?!" shock piece where perhaps the clip the youtube page is displaying might be the LA riots. But even then, I suspect the footage would either be blurred or Tur'd get a cut. Either way, the point is this: There's more to how he makes his money than just the footage. There is nobody looking at his footage on youtube who is then, having seen it, NOT going to buy it from him when they otherwise would have. You don't find people calling up his company looking for tapes of the footage for their own private edification, and you never will. He has lost no sales of his footage, because none of the people that watched it on youtube were going to buy it anyway. It is, in this way, much much different than a video store because video stores sell physical products that one picks up and purchases. There's a direct 1:1 relationship between illicit product bought and legal product left on the shelf, or nearabouts. no such relationship exists when we're talking about a non physical product that can't replace a physical retail product. And that relationship is even less tenable when we're talking about Tur's material, which is sold through channels that cannot turn to Youtube for his footage, and which is not sold to individual consumers to watch it.

In point of fact, there really isn't an analogy to the physical world that accurately represents the nature of the internet and distribution of content thereon. It is a ubiquitous international entity whose sole purpose is the dissemination of information, and to imagine that traditional concepts of information dispersal and infringment apply to it is absurd. This is not to say that his work isn't protected legally, by any means. But for him to imagine that he has the right to cripple or demolish an entire media distribution model because people are watching his videos without his permission is absurd. As I said, there has to come a point in the mind of a sane and reasonable human being where they ask themselves "what precisely am I fighting for?" and give it some real thought and introspection. Tur is fighting to destroy something that doesn't merit destroying, and he keeps telling himself that he's doing it to stand up for the little guy, or to protect his rights. He's not. He's fooling himself. He's destroying his life, he's squandering a literal fortune, because he believes that his right to have distribution control over his copyrighted material trumps the right of other people to legally distribute information over the internet. (Note, I do not use "legally" in that sentence to mean that he's suing youtube for legally distributing material. I mean that he's going to prevent legal material distribution along with illegal material because the vetting process he's demanding is impossible, and the business model of youtube and sites like it, if compelled to vet everything, will fail.) And he's doing all of this to fight something that may not break his arm or pick his pocket.

I mean, fuck. This guy thinks the DMCA is not draconian enough.
posted by shmegegge at 9:52 AM on July 16, 2007 [27 favorites]


where is the right of the person being filmed to say "I don't want that broadcast?" That's an actual question, by the way, I don't know anything about this area and if he had to get permission from Denny to sell and/or air that film

No permission is required. He was "in public." The person taking a photograph or filming an event owns the copyright to the images/film. That's why the paparazzi swarm L.A. -- to photograph celebrities in public in the hope of scoring "the big one." They sell their photos and film footage to the rags and entertainment shows for "big bucks" (e.g. Baby Brangelina: A million-dollar photo?).

You can be photographed/filmed in public and that photograph/film can be published without your consent. However, if it is explicitly for commercial purposes (i.e. used in selling something; advertising) consent is required.

The Photographer’s Right
"In the United States, anything visible ('in plain view') from a public area can be legally photographed. This includes buildings and facilities, people, signage, notices and images. It is not uncommon for security personnel to use intimidation or other tactics to attempt to stop the photographer from photographing their facilities (trying to prevent, e.g., industrial espionage); however, there is no legal precedent to prevent the photographer so long as the image being photographed is in plain view from a public area.*
posted by ericb at 9:54 AM on July 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


ericb speaks truth. It's basic copyright. You own the rights to your face, but if I take a picture of you where you have no reasonable right to privacy, I own the picture as an expression of a public event.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:56 AM on July 16, 2007


Thanks for that explanation, ericb, I honestly didn't know. I think that kind of sucks, actually. The guy made money off filming someone getting the ass-beating of a lifetime; it may be legal, but it sure ain't right.
posted by jennaratrix at 10:01 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another iconic event captured in public on film -- Abraham Zapruder sold all rights to his JFK Assassination film for $150,000 (equivalent to $916,000 in 2006) to Life magazine three-days after the event.
posted by ericb at 10:04 AM on July 16, 2007


I've always been confused by this whole Internet "piracy" thing. Could someone explain to me in plain English why it's OK to steal things on the Internet, but not at the corner store? Maybe it's just silly me, but I can't figure it out.

The distinction between "stealing" things on the internet and stealing things from the corner store is that when you steal from the corner store, they no longer have the thing in question. Copyright infringement does not involve depriving the original owner of property that must be replaced.

Whether or not it is OK is a different question, but I don't think the distinction in conduct is that difficult to comprehend.
posted by uri at 10:09 AM on July 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


Why is it okay for me to "steal" things off the internet but not "steal" them by flicking through magazines at the corner store and not paying for them? It's SO CONFUSING!
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on July 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


MarshallPoe:

Two things. Taking a copy of a work does not deprive the original owner of the first copy. Taking a photo of a painting is somewhat different to taking the physical painting. All the painting owner has lost is potential revenue of people coming in to visit his gallery to see his painting. Of course, his loss might be entirely zero, as people getting copies of the photo passed around may well never have paid to go to the gallery in the first place - his revenue might even go up, as people go to the gallery because they saw the photo, and wanted to see the original in an impressive setting.

Secondly, copyrighted material is not property. Copyrighted works are in the public domain* - its just that for a limited time, in order to get more material into the public domain, authors are supposed to have a limited exclusive time of distribution. Its NOT ownership of property, it never was - ideas, stories, music, cannot be owned - it belongs to all in the public domain, and originally re-entered it after 14 years.

How much music has re-entered the public domain since copyright began? How much instead has been locked up, mouldering away in vaults? How much has passed several release dates, only for copyright duration to be extended again, and again, and again keeping it locked away?
Happy Birthday, copyrighted until at least 2040, and no doubt will be extended again along with everything else next time Disney gets an extension. 'limited times' indeed.

This guy took a public 'event', and made $5m from it selling to news agencies. Now ordinary people watching a low res copy on youtube are depriving him of his rights? No, he's abusing the very nature of copyright - the purpose of it is to expose more people to more material, not less. It certainly wasn't written to enrich new 'copyright as property' barons, or guarantee them an income, or a pension in old age, or a trust fund for his kids. Copyright is supposedly for the greater public good. It's time we remembered that.


*the reason all this material is in the public domain by default is for one main reason; free speech. You can't prevent someone repeating or sharing an idea, story, music etc because they have a free speech right to do so. Sharing flames with tapers etc. Copyright temporarily removes that free speech right, in order to reward authors sharing their material with a short period of exclusivity before it returns to the public domain covered by free speech. Current copyright approach ignores this entirely, and effectively will extend copyright duration forever, thus eliminating the whole point of copyright, that of a full and healthy public domain of material freely shared and built on in new works.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:18 AM on July 16, 2007 [33 favorites]


I remember hearing once that copyright extensions tended to coincide with the expiration date of elvis presley's material. does this ring a bell with anyone? did I imagine it?
posted by shmegegge at 10:29 AM on July 16, 2007


The other reasonable expectation is "don't be in a business that invites people to upload material that makes you liable for copyright infringement."

Right, like VCRs, photocopiers, scanners, digital audio recorders, and cameras, not to mention practically every single function of a computer.

And clearly, justifiably so, all of those things are outlawed and private citizens are prohibited from using them.

No? Oh, well that must be because they are never used for copyright infringement then. The people who make millions and billions off those products must have figured out how to prevent them from ever being used to infringe on copyright.

No? Hmm.

Also, the Napster decision was, in my opinion as well as some "big thinkers" on this subject, just wrong. It was an incorrect ruling made by judges who did not understand the magnitude and scope of what they were trying to rule on.

Plus, it was a moot point, since as soon as Napster got served, a dozen imitators with much greater privacy popped up to fill the void.

So then we had the laughably ineffective and PR disaster of suing grandmas whose 10 year old grandchild downloaded some Usher one day at Grammy's house.

As I said, the dinosaurs heard a big "boom" somewhere over the horizon and it's starting to get awfully cold 'round here.

The little furry 2.0's are scurrying around packing away seeds for the uncertain future ahead.

Times change.

I heard a story that people complained when the phonograph was invented that there would no longer be any professional musicians.

Now with phonographs, tapes, cd's and mp3's, there are certainly more professional musicians than at any time in history, earning exponentially more than those who came before.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:29 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


That's not the entire story, ericb. Reading on regarding the Zapruder footage:
Time Inc. sold the original film and its copyright back to the Zapruder family for the token sum of $1... Eventually, following arbitration with the Zapruder heirs, the government purchased or made recompense for the film in 1999, in the amount of $16,000,000... The Zapruder family donated the Zapruder film's copyright in December 1999 to The Sixth Floor Museum.
posted by yeti at 10:31 AM on July 16, 2007


Whether or not it is OK is a different question, but I don't think the distinction in conduct is that difficult to comprehend.

Apparently, uri, it seems like it is difficult to comprehend. A digital recording may be inexhaustible (never runs out), but this does not mean that it is non-rivalrous (sharing with everyone doesn't decrease the value to anyone.) Mr. Tur's copyright allows him to make money from his recordings. When copies of his work are freely available on YouTubve, then the value of Mr. Tur's copyright is substantially diminished, if not destroyed. Copyrighted recordings are inherently rivalrous - which is why copyright was created in the first place.

Consumers who don't want to pay for consumption destroy the market for original works. The same RIAA-hating internet users, who rejoice in the collapse of the recording industry, are also encouraging behaviour that will make it impossible for "indie" bands, independent reporters, journalists, artists and any other poor bastard who tries to make a living creating original works. The world will hardly be a better place if Web2.0 means there is no market for professionals.

It's cool to hate the RIAA, but love multi-billion Google/YouTube. Go figure. Pity that the recording industry does not have as many people shilling for it (for free) as Google does.
posted by three blind mice at 10:31 AM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's also worth pointing out, that 'sweat of brow' is not protected under copyright law. Just because you put a lot of work into something doesn't mean it's copyrighted and thus protected, and certainly doesn't guarantee you a return on investment.

Only creative effort that actively creates a new work, substantially different from factual information or existing public domain material its built on creates a new copyrightable work. This standard is often set rediculously low, but it is still there.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wish I could favorite ArkhanJG's comment a million times, and then scream it from the rooftops until everyone in the world has heard it and understood it. Then I'd favorite it some more.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:35 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think I understand now: you can look at a sample of something under copyright (magazines in stores--Artw's exception), but you can't just walk off with it. Applied to the Internet, that means you can get a sample of something under copyright, but you can't copy it or distribute it.

So by this logic, I guess I should conclude that what's going on on YouTube and all the file sharing sites is theft. I think I have it now.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:37 AM on July 16, 2007


The same RIAA-hating internet users, who rejoice in the collapse of the recording industry, are also encouraging behaviour that will make it impossible for "indie" bands, independent reporters, journalists, artists and any other poor bastard who tries to make a living creating original works.

there is a lot in this statement, and your comment in general, that needs restating. the recording industry is not collapsing. cd sales, i believe, have diminished, but the amount they've diminished by has been overcome by the amount of digital sales that have happened. further, indie labels aren't having all that tough of a time with the digital revolution. Even Touch and Go has started putting cards in their cds so that if you buy from them you get to go to their site, put in the code on the card, and download high quality mp3s of the music to give to your friends so they can hear it. the effect of the mp3 on the recording industry is not what you're portraying.
posted by shmegegge at 10:41 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's my question: Does he really imagine the illegal versions of his videos on YouTube are depriving him of money? If I were a legitimate television producer, and were looking for images of the LA Riots, I could scan YouTube to see what was out there, and then contact the peple who made the videos and broker the rights to broadcast them. Nobody who has any real money is going to be taking images off YouTube and boradcasting them -- and, considering how low quality they are, nobody with any sense will be doing so either. From my perspective, he's shooting himself in the foot by sabotaging an easy way for broadcasters to find out about his footage.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:41 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


He's not an asshole, he's just from LA. The customs of the Hollywood Lizard People seem strange to outsiders is all. Among some tribes, a lawsuit is how they initiate the mating ritual.

And yeah, I can see his point. Cuz when the courts shut down Napster, online music downloads were stopped cold. I wouldn't have the first clue how to get free music right now.

Best case scenario for Tur is that, after a few more years of suits and counter-suits and appeals, YouTube is indeed shut down ... Tur is broke, sick and his family has abandoned him, but YouTube no longer broadcasts his footage.

Now, all he has to do is sue Dailymotion, Break.com, Str8tup, Metacafe, anyone who uses the TVU player, Yahoo video, Google Video, AOL video and whoever else has the nerve to stream tiny, grainy footage onto teh internets.

He'll knock that windmill over yet.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:43 AM on July 16, 2007


What worries me more is that he was able to copyright something like that. Simple video of a violent assault taking place on a public street in broad daylight.

And he has the copyright on it. And sues people over it, while making millions off of licensing the video. That was taken in public.

If anything is fucked up here, it's our copyright laws.
posted by drstein at 10:51 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


As with the music industry, when the use of your product is going up by huge amounts and you are going broke, the model with which you are attempting to make money is wrong. Viacom and others sound like they've figured this out, and are working on it.

Tur hasn't figured this out yet, and is an asshole for stubbornly pounding away at what everyone else is trying to turn into a good thing for everyone involved.
posted by Arturus at 11:00 AM on July 16, 2007


three blind mice - I was very specifically pointing out the distinction in conduct, ie: what people are actually doing, at the margin, each day.

Consumers who don't want to pay for consumption destroy the market for original works.

The world will hardly be a better place if Web2.0 means there is no market for professionals.


Is this actually happening? Is there less quality content being produced now than before? I'm not seeing it.
posted by uri at 11:05 AM on July 16, 2007


I work as an author and some of my books are also sold as PDF files.

As you can imagine there is a strong black market for pirated PDFs. Mine included. Each one steals income from me and I've got to tell you that I'm far from rich.

The standard way to distribute pirated PDF files is to upload them to an indiscriminate file sharing site, site Rapidshare, and then link to them from blogs setup anonymously on Blogger, which is owned by Google. Each blog posting is for a new book, and a catalog is created automagically. Easy peasy.

Trying to get Google to remove the links on these blogs is impossible. They won't respond to emails. (Neither, for that matter, will Rapidshare.) In the end I figured out that I had to send them a faxed or mailed letter for every single infringement, swearing on oath that it was my material. I'm in the UK, not the US, but we'll ignore that for now. They don't remove the entire blog, so other pirated PDFs are still linked to. It's as clear as the nose on your face that the blog is full of pirated material, and they MUST realise this. But they just remove the specific link I mention.

What gets my goat is that I have to do the hard work to get them to take down MY copyrighted material! It's not enough to email. I've got to jump through their hoops.

There are 10s if not hundreds of these book blogs. As soon as one is removed, another appears. My books are widely available for free, when they're my main way of making a living right now.

After sending a few of the letters, I gave up. Then something important occurred to me. The reason Google is so slow is that they don't care. At the very best they have a laissez faire attitude to copyright infringement.

But then I realised that it goes deeper than this. I think Google wants to own all the digital content in the world, and they don't care how they do this. I think they might even believe that they already own all the world's content and it's just a matter of sorting out details. If it's online, it's somehow theirs, unless you specifically tell them otherwise.

I like YouTube, even if most of its users are depressingly inane. But I hope this guy shuts them down. Google has to learn manners. It needs to be taught a lesson. It needs to be punched squarely in the face.
posted by humblepigeon at 11:10 AM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


NPR claims 50,000 daily video uploads to youtube. If we assume average length 5 minutes (half the maximal video upload, probably lower than the actual average) that's 250,000 minutes of video uploaded per day.

If you assume that 'content screeners' would have to watch every minute of every uploaded video that's 250,000 minutes of video to watch per day; given that a single day only has 1440 minutes, (let's round up and say there's 2000) that's still 125 daylengths of video to watch, which would translate into, let's say, 400 full time employees (assume 8 hour shifts and minimal management requirements). At, say, 30k/annum base salary, that translates into ~12 million dollars a year in direct employee compensation; if you throw in benefits, furnishing expenses, and so forth it's probably safe to double that to ~24 million.

And that's probably an order of magnitude too low. As just one example, assumes that no additional time is required beyond that of watching the video, which is laughable: unless each employee has perfect information -- at a minimum, the precise identity of the uploader, the precise identity of the copyright holder, and the exact state of the copyright holder's disposition with regards to this particular upload -- after having watched each video it will be necessary to contact the uploader, ascertain their identity, ascertain the true copyright holder of the video, contact the copyright holder, and determine if this upload is authorized. It's hard to see that process taking less than 15-20 minutes on average, and I'd guess more like a couple hours -- what with lag time, missed calls, and the lack of a centralized database of copyright claims. And, matters would become still worse if one were to try to honor the principles of fair use: if I upload a lecture I gave on, say, visual imagery in some director's films, and the lecture includes clips from the relevant films, there's going to be much more than one rights holder to contact, isn't there?

And why stop at youtube? It's hard to see what youtube does that "the internet" doesn't also do, except provide a nice, easy-to-use user interface. By extension of the same logic one would hope that, say, AT&T, Verizon, and so forth would employ equivalent staffing to read through and watch all content flowing through their systems, making sure that all transmitted content is done so with the permission of the appropriate rights holders. Given the expense of such filtering it might even be better to centralize the operation; I understand China has such a system in place already, making sure that only authorized content is transmitted.
posted by little miss manners at 11:10 AM on July 16, 2007


MarshallPoe writes "So by this logic, I guess I should conclude that what's going on on YouTube and all the file sharing sites is theft. I think I have it now."

I can't figure out whether or not you're being deliberately obtuse. Let's clarify: under the DMCA, isn't responsible for content hosted unless they get a takedown notice.

If people start pirating music by playing and recording it over phone lines, is AT&T responsible for the 'theft'?
posted by mullingitover at 11:11 AM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Cuz when the courts shut down Napster, online music downloads were stopped cold. I wouldn't have the first clue how to get free music right now."

Are you joking?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:12 AM on July 16, 2007


mullingitover writes "under the DMCA, isn't"

er, under the DMCA, YouTube isn't responsible
posted by mullingitover at 11:12 AM on July 16, 2007


Baby_Balrog writes "Are you joking?"

Going waaaaay out on a limb here, I'll say yes.
posted by mullingitover at 11:13 AM on July 16, 2007


Mullingitover: "If people start pirating music by playing and recording it over phone lines, is AT&T responsible for the 'theft'?"

Also, this is brilliant.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:17 AM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The same RIAA-hating internet users, who rejoice in the collapse of the recording industry, are also encouraging behaviour that will make it impossible for "indie" bands, independent reporters, journalists, artists and any other poor bastard who tries to make a living creating original works."

Bullshit. It's easier for an indie band to make a regular living now than it has been in 40 years.

Unless, of course, we grant that home-taping destroyed music and that we're all living in an alternate dimension. In which case, you can look to the Earth 2 Detroit Lions as a lock on the Superbowl.
posted by klangklangston at 11:17 AM on July 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


I've thought this guy was an idiot ever since I watched his tape "world's greatest car chases" (back in 1996 before the shit was everywhere). Throughout the tape, he uses the phrase "narrowly hit" to describe a near-collision. As in "This is an extremely dangerous situation, WHOA our suspect has just narrowly hit several vehicles but somehow avoided those collisions entirely!" Get a grip on the language ya fucking idiot!
posted by autodidact at 11:21 AM on July 16, 2007


What worries me more is that he was able to copyright something like that. Simple video of a violent assault taking place on a public street in broad daylight.

Yeah, simple video that involved interviewing Crips, flying in a helicopter, and getting shot at. Yup.

Seriously, wtf? The footage that guy owns the rights to is iconic (for lack of a better word) to the LA Riots. When I think of the riots I think of that footage.

Though I disagree with Tur's actions, I completely understand his point. Those of you balking at the fact that this guy made millions off of his footage are being ridiculous. Had he not captured that footage and had I been told of what happened on that freeway I would not for one second have believed it was true. Tur deserves every fucking penny he's gotten for shooting it.
posted by dobbs at 11:22 AM on July 16, 2007


"Trying to get Google to remove the links on these blogs is impossible. They won't respond to emails. (Neither, for that matter, will Rapidshare.)"

Really? Because when I saw that a couple of local bands were getting shared on Rapidshare, I clicked on their report link and the files were down within half an hour. I then emailed the blogs links to the places where they could buy the albums. And I'm not even making any money off of these— I just wanted to help stave off some picking-on-the-little-guy that I saw (and I only cared about full albums, since I figure sharing singles does more good than harm).

I'm fine with being called a hypocrite over caring about some people's copyright but not others.
posted by klangklangston at 11:23 AM on July 16, 2007


Shmegegge if you read my comment you'll see Tur's work actually is something you can go into a video store and rent.
posted by autodidact at 11:27 AM on July 16, 2007


Those of you balking at the fact that this guy made millions off of his footage are being ridiculous.

It's ridiculous to balk at someone making millions off of another human being getting smashed in the face with a brick? Really? That's ridiculous? Did I read that right? It is ridiculous to balk at that? Seriously? For real?

Can someone hand me some more quesion marks, I have a feeling I'm gonna be here for a while.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:28 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


What worries me more is that he was able to copyright something like that. Simple video of a violent assault taking place on a public street in broad daylight.

If anything is fucked up here, it's our copyright laws.


Wow.

Do you work for a living? Do you get paid for it?

Should somebody doing a simple job get paid for it? How about a janitor? That's really simple work. Should he get paid for it? How about a security guard sitting watching screens all day. That's really simple. Surely he shouldn't get paid?

I happen to write for a living.

Do I only get paid for it if the words are complicated? Simple sentences are immune from payment? Maybe I should get paid for a page of text, and paragraphs go free?

Should only complicated video earn money from the people who create it? Stuff with a script, maybe? Stuff that looks arty and is shot in black and white?

You, sir, are an idiot.
posted by humblepigeon at 11:33 AM on July 16, 2007


OK. So, he filmed someone being beaten up. He made $5 million in profit from someone else's pain and suffering and public humiliation. And then he's suing a company because someone had it on their computer and felt the need to share it with other human beings for free.

Hmm. What he should have done - demanded YouTube take down the video, and upload his own version. But that wouldn't make him any money, would it? Far better to try and shut down something that's notorious, with no due care for the millions of people that enjoy it.

Could someone explain to me in plain English why it's OK to steal things on the Internet, but not at the corner store?

I can't honestly think of a single thing on the internet that can be physically stolen and become irreplacable. If you download an mp3, image or video, it's not the original, it's a duplicated version at no cost to the owner (this may be open to interpretation). The original is still intact and can still be used. Whereas, you can't walk into a corner store and duplicate a loaf of bread - you're taking the original and you're not leaving anything behind to replace the value to the shopkeeper so he can go ahead and make profit from what he's already purchased/created - be it slices from the bread, or the whole loaf.

That's the best way I can answer that question.
posted by saturnine at 11:34 AM on July 16, 2007


Right, like VCRs, photocopiers, scanners, digital audio recorders, and cameras, not to mention practically every single function of a computer. ... No? Oh, well that must be because they are never used for copyright infringement then.

You're mixing apples and oranges into your argument, conflating infringement cases with non-infringing uses, such as time-shifting. You're also missing the point that YouTube, et al, have additional commercial activities (i.e. selling ads) tied to the infringement. So, your "teh VCR people do it" argument doesn't hold water, sorry.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:37 AM on July 16, 2007


"Do I only get paid for it if the words are complicated? Simple sentences are immune from payment? Maybe I should get paid for a page of text, and paragraphs go free?"

So... how much did you get paid for that little bit? I mean, since no one creates content that they don't get paid for, or just to do so, right?

I mean, I'm taking a couple of points off the back end of MeFi, but what kind of deal are you getting?
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 AM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I can't honestly think of a single thing on the internet that can be physically stolen and become irreplaceable.

What becomes irreplaceable is the value of the copied good to the rights-holder. If you write a piece of software, it has whatever value people place on it if they want to purchase it (e.g. you, the rights-holder, can charge X dollars for it if people are willing to pay X dollars). But if it's rampantly copied and freely available, that value drops to near zero, because no one is interested in purchasing it from you.

This is an abstract concept (the "harm" is a reduced opportunity for the rights-holder, not a physical theft like if I came and stole your wallet), which is why people think, "no harm, no foul."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:45 AM on July 16, 2007


In a bizarre twist Youtube is also on the receiving end

It's cool to hate the RIAA, but love multi-billion Google/YouTube. Go figure. Pity that the recording industry does not have as many people shilling for it (for free) as Google does.

Google has helped me find things, like the music of cool new to me indie bands, and made my life easier and better. For free. The RIAA? Well, I have this DRM'ed up MP3player that takes about 8 times as long to load music onto because it has to go through music match jukebox and be converted to mpx. That's what the RIAA has done for me. Tell me again who I should love? The free handjob or the paid for but unsolicited and undesired rectal probe?
posted by srboisvert at 11:46 AM on July 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


mullingitover. No, I'm just trying to boil it down. I didn't say that Google/YouTube was stealing anything. They just facilitate theft. As you say, that doesn't seem to be illegal. As someone who makes part of his living by copyright, I think it should be illegal.

What I said was that the people who are copying material under copyright and putting up for free distribution, and those download it, are by any reasonable definition committing theft. Or, more technically I supposed, copyright infringement. Amounts to the same thing, though: money out of the copyright holder's pocket. And (with some important exceptions) when you take money out of someone's pocket without their permission, you are a thief. You may not be a big thief, but I think it's important that we call things by their names. Cf. Orwell.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:51 AM on July 16, 2007


The real tragedy here is the kids, who get to look forward to growing up saddled with their late father's legal debts once the stress finally kills him.

Could someone explain this part to me? I don't live in the US, but my understanding has always been once the parent dies, the debt does not pass onto the children. Any debts at death get paid out from any assets the parent still had. (Sorry for the derail, just curious.)
posted by Salmonberry at 11:52 AM on July 16, 2007


It's ridiculous to balk at someone making millions off of another human being getting smashed in the face with a brick?

Yeah, it is. He's not making millions off a guy being smashed in the face with a brick. There are countless videos of people getting smashed in the face with all kinds of things on youtube. None of those people are making any money.

Are you smart enough to figure out the difference between those videos and his or is your brain so blinded by being in sarcastic idiot mode that you're unable differentiate?

Tell you what, since you like to remove context, why don't you remove the context altogether? You've already left out the being shot at part, the being in a helicopter part, the being in the middle of a fucking riot part... why don't you leave out the brick smashing part also and say you're outraged that "some guy took a picture of some other people and he's making milliions?!!?"

What he filmed is not important to what Tur is saying. That he filmed it is.

Further, are you honestly saying that you'd rather that scene was not captured on video? Is that what you're saying? Or just that, having risked his life to get it, he doesn't deserve to own the copyright? Please clarify. I'm a little dense.
posted by dobbs at 11:58 AM on July 16, 2007


MarshallPoe writes "mullingitover. No, I'm just trying to boil it down. I didn't say that Google/YouTube was stealing anything. They just facilitate theft. As you say, that doesn't seem to be illegal. As someone who makes part of his living by copyright, I think it should be illegal.

"What I said was that the people who are copying material under copyright and putting up for free distribution, and those download it, are by any reasonable definition committing theft. Or, more technically I supposed, copyright infringement. Amounts to the same thing, though: money out of the copyright holder's pocket. And (with some important exceptions) when you take money out of someone's pocket without their permission, you are a thief. You may not be a big thief, but I think it's important that we call things by their names. Cf. Orwell."


Ah, the old: COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS THE SAME AS STEALING PHYSICAL ITEMS, AMIRITE?

This argument will hold water the day someone is convicted of theft when they've only been infringing copyrights. Meanwhile, you're saying that Google/YouTube are committing crimes by 'facilitating theft,' but you're failing to understand that what they're doing is enshrined in law. They are complying with the terms of the DMCA. If you don't like it, write your congressman and tell him/her that the DMCA is not strict enough. Right now you're just defaming Google, which, to follow your line of reasoning, is like murdering them.
posted by mullingitover at 12:10 PM on July 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


Salmonberry said :Could someone explain this part to me? I don't live in the US, but my understanding has always been once the parent dies, the debt does not pass onto the children. Any debts at death get paid out from any assets the parent still had. (Sorry for the derail, just curious.)

IANAL, but I've dealt with some estates. Outstanding debt can be extracted from the deceased estate *before* any shares are provided to inheritors. Assets can be seized and sold to satisfy debts.

Debt doesn't expire just because you do.
posted by dejah420 at 12:19 PM on July 16, 2007


Observe me continuing to balk, dobbs!

Denny is now forever known as the guy who got the shit beat out of him in the LA Riots. What else do most people know about the dude? Not so much, if anything. He was knocked within an inch of his life so that the home viewer could feel a sense of -- taking the charitable view -- "Oh hey, look, this is real, these news anchors are not lying to me". Taking a less charitable view, it was done so that networks could get the home viewer to keep watching.

So yeah, to answer your specific questions: I can indeed differentiate between different videos of people being smashed in the face. I won't remove context altogether because the context I've left in -- guy gets beaten, other guy makes millions off taping it (and then complains that he's not making quite enough)-- is the part I'm balking at. And, yes, honestly, I'd rather that scene was not captured on video. My right to see what's happening in LA is not greater than the right of Reginald Denny to have a bit of dignity, rather than being used as a symbol of gettingbeatenness for the masses.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:22 PM on July 16, 2007


He's going to lose, and go broke from having to pay his attorneys. And it's going to be exactly what he deserves.

The real tragedy here is the kids, who get to look forward to growing up saddled with their late father's legal debts once the stress finally kills him.

Unless they've agreed to pay his legal debts, they aren't responsible for paying them. You can't take someone's money or property just because their dad owes you money.

The other reasonable expectation is "don't be in a business that invites people to upload material that makes you liable for copyright infringement."
Napster was shut down via this same argument. Sure, there was plenty of indie, non-infringing music on Napster, but that's not the point. It facilitated infringement.


And here's where your argument is no longer valid: YouTube has significant noninfringing uses (see the musical-Tesla-coil thread from this weekend for an example that has let me waste more time than I care to admit). Napster was made for the purpose of infringing copyright; YouTube wasn't.

What worries me more is that he was able to copyright something like that. Simple video of a violent assault taking place on a public street in broad daylight.

Why shouldn't he be able to copyright it? Just because it took place in public, that doesn't mean it's public domain. If I write a song in a public place, does that mean I shouldn't be able to have a copyright on it?
posted by oaf at 12:25 PM on July 16, 2007


> Do I only get paid for it if the words are complicated? Simple sentences are immune from payment?

So... how much did you get paid for that little bit? I mean, since no one creates content that they don't get paid for, or just to do so, right?


Right. So a taxi driver should charge his daughter when he drives her to school?
posted by humblepigeon at 12:29 PM on July 16, 2007


> Do I only get paid for it if the words are complicated? Simple sentences are immune from payment?

how much did you get paid for that little bit? I mean, since no one creates content that they don't get paid for, or just to do so, right?


So a taxi driver should charge his daughter when he drives her to school?
posted by humblepigeon at 12:30 PM on July 16, 2007


Here's my question: Does he really imagine the illegal versions of his videos on YouTube are depriving him of money?

I think his point is that Google Tube is making money from his copyrighted work (and that of others) without permission or payment. So if Google is making money from copyrighted works why shouldn't the creators/copyright holders?
posted by MikeMc at 12:30 PM on July 16, 2007


MikeMc for the win.
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:35 PM on July 16, 2007


Whenever people discuss copyright you hear the same argument - the copyright owner doesn't lose any money if I make a copy. But let's look at this from another perspective:

Why shouldn't I pay for whatever I want - songs, books or other things?

It would be good if someone could explain this to me. As it is, I'm getting suspicious - I see a lot of intellectual energy being spent by people who argue that they should be able to get something they want for free.

And another thing. What am I going to do with all that free music I got? Perhaps put it on my $600 iPhone? Apparently, we pick and choose when we decide what we are willing to pay for and what we expect to be free.
posted by Termite at 12:38 PM on July 16, 2007


And, yes, honestly, I'd rather that scene was not captured on video

I'm willing to bet Denny doesn't agree with you, especially since that footage enabled the police to identify, capture, and convict his attackers.
posted by dobbs at 12:39 PM on July 16, 2007


Showing footage to the police is now the same as showing it an entire nation?
posted by Greg Nog at 12:47 PM on July 16, 2007


What worries me more is that he was able to copyright something like that. Simple video of a violent assault taking place on a public street in broad daylight.

Video shot by a professionally trained videographer with an expensive camera literally risking his life, dodging bullets, to shoot an important event from a $2 million helicopter operated by a trained pilot. I rather think he deserves to be paid for that.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:47 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Termite writes "Why shouldn't I pay for whatever I want - songs, books or other things?"

Because many of those things are free. They're free because the copyright system worked: artists created something, got their (in theory) limited tax dollar-subsidized monopoly, and then it entered the public domain. That's how it's supposed to work. It's not a license for you to steal physical media, but the information contained therein isn't under lock and key if they're in the public domain. Meanwhile, if the public domain is taken away, why is it in the public's interest to respect *any* copyrights? What's in it for the public at that point?
posted by mullingitover at 12:51 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Nothing grates worse than the sound of people expecting to be paid for speculative work: if you want to be paid for sure, get a job. To continue with the fun of silly analogies:

Video shot by a professionally trained videographer with an expensive camera literally risking his life, dodging bullets, to shoot an important event from a $2 million helicopter operated by a trained pilot. I rather think he deserves to be paid for that.

HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION WITH AS MUCH RELEVANCE TO QUOTED CONTENT AS THE ANALOGIES FLYING AROUND HERE TEND TO HAVE: I invested $4 million in pets.com, risking future my retirement, after consulting with professional investment advisors and executing my trade over a multimillion dollar system. Surely I deserve to get paid?
posted by little miss manners at 12:56 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Napster was made for the purpose of infringing copyright

Except right at the end, when they were promoting all the non-infringing benefits in a desperate attempt to stay running.

But go ahead, keep clinging to that life raft. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:59 PM on July 16, 2007


I invested $4 million in pets.com, risking future my retirement, after consulting with professional investment advisors and executing my trade over a multimillion dollar system. Surely I deserve to get paid?

Okay, rather than "paid" I should have said he deserves legal protection for the property he manufactured and owns through his work. Just as the owners of Pets.com enjoy legal protection of their property.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:04 PM on July 16, 2007


If it is actually YouTube's (a/k/a Google's) position that any copyrighted material that shows up on their site is unintentional and not part of their plan, then there should be some vetting of the submissions to make sure it doesn't happen.

That is almost certainly not their position since everything is copyrighted. If I shoot a five minute video of my coffee cup, I hold the copyright to that video. How do I prove that I own the copyright to that video to your, YouTube's, or a court's satisfaction? There is no big registry of copyrighted work to check things against.

As for the "facilitating theft" argument, where does that end? If I download something from the web which the copyright holder doesn't want publicly available, is my ISP responsible? Intel? Microsoft? My Electric Company? Ada Lovelace?

IMHO, the copyright system needs an overhaul in the worst way.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:11 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


mullingitover: Meanwhile, if the public domain is taken away ---

Is it? You need to convince me about this. This is just one example of something that didn't exist until fairly recently. All the classics, just a mouseclick away, from a reliable source. Compare that to what was available in your city library when you grew up. And, of course, there's this.
posted by Termite at 1:11 PM on July 16, 2007


shmgegge: cd sales, i believe, have diminished, but the amount they've diminished by has been overcome by the amount of digital sales that have happened.

Well, not quite. According to Rolling Stone, "digital sales are growing -- fans bought 582 million digital singles last year, up sixty-five percent from 2005, and purchased $600 million worth of ringtones -- but the new revenue sources aren't making up for the shortfall."

But, man, were those servers ever busy when Apple released iTunes Plus. It seems that the appetite for high-quality, DRM-free music is pretty strong; hopefully the other players in the industry will take note.
posted by malocchio at 1:16 PM on July 16, 2007


I've always been confused by this whole Internet "piracy" thing. Could someone explain to me in plain English why it's OK to steal things on the Internet, but not at the corner store? Maybe it's just silly me, but I can't figure it out. -- MarshallPoe

It's not OK to steal things on the internet, for example, by doing credit card fraud and I don't know anyone who thinks it is. Copyright Infringement, which is a tort, rather then a crime is a different matter, but somehow I think you've heard these arguments before.

The other reasonable expectation is "don't be in a business that invites people to upload material that makes you liable for copyright infringement." -- Cool Papa Bell

Since all internet hosting 'invites' people to upload copyrighted materal, that 'expectation' would shutdown the entire web. And anyway, it's not how the law (DMCA) Copyright owners need to notify hosting providers about material, and until they do that, the people hosting the content have no responsibility whatsoever. If you don't like it, talk to your congressman about getting a tougher law.

The law is full of cases where you are liable for creating a set-up that invites, encourages and/or rewards people to do harm to themselves or others, even if you yourself doesn't actually do anything to specifically cause the harm. -- Cool Papa Bell

That's true, but not in this case "The law is the law" is right, and it say youtube can do exactly what it does now, and even less if it wanted.

I think I understand now: you can look at a sample of something under copyright (magazines in stores--Artw's exception), but you can't just walk off with it. Applied to the Internet, that means you can get a sample of something under copyright, but you can't copy it or distribute it.

So by this logic, I guess I should conclude that what's going on on YouTube and all the file sharing sites is theft. I think I have it now.
-- MarshallPoe

You could conclude that, but you'd be a moron. Copyright infringement is not theft because it's defined by copyright law as copyright infringement, not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft in an 'epistemelogical' sense because it does not deprive the original owner with the original.

Saying that "Sampling things" is OK is an analogy you drew and has no baring on anything whatsoever.

What gets my goat is that I have to do the hard work to get them to take down MY copyrighted material! It's not enough to email. I've got to jump through their hoops. -- humblepigeon

This is the sound of me playing the world's tiniest violin, just for you.

mullingitover. No, I'm just trying to boil it down. I didn't say that Google/YouTube was stealing anything. They just facilitate theft. As you say, that doesn't seem to be illegal. As someone who makes part of his living by copyright, I think it should be illegal. -- MarshallPoe

Think all you want, the fact is, it's not illegal at all.
posted by delmoi at 1:16 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Think all you want, the fact is, it's not illegal at all.

I look forward to the resolution of the court case. Unfortunately, I don't think it'll go the way you think it will.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:21 PM on July 16, 2007


I'm willing to bet Denny doesn't agree with you, especially since that footage enabled the police to identify, capture, and convict his attackers.

They were found not guilty of most charges.
posted by drezdn at 1:23 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


They were found not guilty of most charges.

Umm, not guilty of most charges doesn't mean they were not guilty of all charges.

Williams was charged with attempted murder as well as assault and mayhem. Williams was convicted of mayhem and misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to 10 years.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:25 PM on July 16, 2007


Nothing grates worse than the sound of people expecting to be paid for speculative work: if you want to be paid for sure, get a job.

I hate to take this side but...by all means, don't create anything unless you have cash in hand or a contract for payment. If you do anything creative on spec you're a dumbass. You don't deserve to get paid because everything you do should be given away free of charge for the betterment of mankind. If you want to eat get a job at McDonald's.

I invested $4 million in pets.com, risking future my retirement, after consulting with professional investment advisors and executing my trade over a multimillion dollar system. Surely I deserve to get paid?

Bad analogy. If you were an employee of Pets.com you deserve to get paid for your work. The gentleman in question is not an investor he is the business owner/ content creator and he wants to be paid for his work.

Whew...I'm gonna take a break and go see what's new on Demonoid.
posted by MikeMc at 1:27 PM on July 16, 2007


Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese:

Copyright is not property. It shares very few things in common with property. About the only thing in common is that money changes hands for it. Pets.com isn't property either, nor is it 'owned' in that sense.

Seriously - as long as you think of copyright, patents and trademarks as property, and try to compare it to physical things, you're going to struggle.

[this] Video... I rather think he deserves to be paid for that.
Quite possibly - it does have value, after all. Is the mechanism by which he expects to be paid a fair one any more? Is his demand for payment by this mechanism reasonable? Is expecting someone else to work for him for free to protect his expectations of payment reasonable? Different questions.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:33 PM on July 16, 2007


An interesting argument in the class action complaint (PDF, paragraph 7) against YouTube is that:

Recent events have confirmed that Defendants are able to identify copyrighted material on the YouTube website - and to remove such material if they wish - so long as victims of Defendants' infringing conduct agree to pay Defendants to do so, by authorizing the otherwise infringing exploitation of their works by Defendants. In a Twenty-First Century embodiment of an age-old scheme, Defendants have agreed to provide "protection" against their own infringing conduct through a series of "partnership" agreements with various copyright owners. Put another way, when the license fee sought by a copyright owner is low enough to be deemed satisfactory to Defendants, Defendants find themselves able to shed their blinders and employ technology to safeguard the rights of their new "partners." By contrast, Defendants steadfastly refuse to respect the rights of members of the Class who insist on asserting their rights under the laws Congress has enacted to protect them rather than being forced to sell those rights on the cheap as part of Defendants' "protection" scheme.

posted by exogenous at 1:34 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bob Tur is a moron but he's no threat to YouTube. Google will just blead him dry.

If he won, he'd merely force these sites into a peer2peer model, seriously hurting Viacom & co. So infact we'll see Viacom & co. helping YouTube once they get their settlement.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:37 PM on July 16, 2007


MikeMc: it's a deliberately bad analogy, of course, but the ire is real...he wants to get paid for his work, sure, but he is an investor in every meaningful sense: he provided funding upfront to capture this video, in the hopes of someday finding buyers/licensees...until he actually finds someone willing to pay it's all just speculative investment, the same way that paparazzi camping out in the bushes are making a speculative investment of their time or the way that real estate speculators buy unused plots of land in the direction they think a metro area is going to grow.
posted by little miss manners at 1:41 PM on July 16, 2007


Yeah, but why shouldn't I pay for what I want - songs, books or whatever? I've been following a lot of copyright/anti-copyright discussions and I still haven't seen an answer to this basic question. Again and again I hear a lot of people spend a lot of time making informed and intelligent arguments that all boil down to that they shouldn't have to pay for something they want. If anyone wants to explain this I'd like to hear your responses. Bring it on. See above.
posted by Termite at 1:42 PM on July 16, 2007


I agree that having You-tube employees proactively check all Youtube footage for copyright infringement is not a possibility, but it seems like there is a market opportunity to create a bot that automatically searches. I could see it working the same way this image "compiler" does. Artists voluntarily post their film compositions to a third party source, maybe the US copyright office. This third party sends, say, five random screen shots from the film to YouTube. YouTube uses a comparison technique like the one above to check screen shots from their videos for matches with the artist's screen shots. Ones that match are flagged and reviewed by real people, and removed as necessary. New random shots could be drawn from the copyrighted material as needed.
posted by Eringatang at 1:52 PM on July 16, 2007


there are lot of weird arguments being heard in this thread, about Youtube facilitating theft and inviting the upload of copyrighted material. I don't know what stories you've read about, (and it's possible that you've heard stuff about youtube inviting illegal uploads) but all the stories I've heard have been about them removing anything remotely suspected of being copyrighted with all haste and hardly even an investigation. You see someone else post a video of their cat, and you go around flagging the hell out of it as a copyright violation and there's a decent chance it'll get pulled just to be safe. The technology itself invites the upload of digital video. That's it. What other people use that tech for is their infringement, not youtube's. That's the law, and it makes sense. When Youtube knows there's illegal material up and DOESN'T pull it, then they're liable, but it doesn't seem to ever happen. Youtube pulls shit all the time. Why is it that they should be legally bound to perform the impossible (namely vetting all the videos that come into their domain)? I have yet to hear a compelling argument in favor of it. Just a lot of "IP THEFT IS STEALING!" nonsense.
posted by shmegegge at 1:53 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's interesting, exogenous.
posted by Eringatang at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2007


I look forward to the resolution of the court case. Unfortunately, I don't think it'll go the way you think it will. -- Cool Papa Bell

Do you honestly believe this is the first time someone tried a lawsuit like this? Come on, the law is clear, you can read it yourself. Copyright owners have to send a notification, and then respondents have 48 hours to remove content. There is no other requirement, the DMCA is what defines this process, and it's very, very clear. You can wait all you want, but I'd be willing to bet that a) youtube is not shut down, and b) this is the last we'll ever hear about it.

You can make moral arguments all you want, you can whine all you want, but the law is the law, and it's all very clear.
posted by delmoi at 1:56 PM on July 16, 2007


Copyright is not property.

You're right, I blurred the distinction between the two. But my original point was to show that Tur did far more than simply video an assault. He made intellectual and material choices that allowed him to create a unique material that he should be able to control.

Is the mechanism by which he expects to be paid a fair one any more?

Yes. He expects to be paid when somebody uses his copyrighted material for profit. The Internet doesn't change that.

Is his demand for payment by this mechanism reasonable?

Yes. He should be able to reasonably expect people to respect his copyrights. It doesn't matter that it's easy not to.

Is expecting someone else to work for him for free to protect his expectations of payment reasonable?

No, that's not reasonalbe. But then who is he expecting to work for him for free? Youtube? They're not working for free, they are profiting from his material. They ought to work to make sure they are allowed to do that, just like any other broadcaster or publisher would.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:58 PM on July 16, 2007


Termite: because money isn't everything? Seriously - you didn't get paid for this comment, nor am I getting paid for this reply.

I don't pay to listen to the radio. I don't pay to watch TV. I don't pay to listen to someone singing on the street. I don't pay to play games with my friends. I don't pay to enjoy a sculpture in the park. I don't pay for watching TV or listening to the radio on the internet.

Oops. That last one is probably illegal - because creators are usually getting paid by some method in the other ones, whereas on the internet they're quite often not. There likely needs to be a mechanism by which people creating interesting stuff can be rewarded. That mechanism need not be copyright.

The really short answer is : Because lots of *other* good stuff in life is free. It's hard to break the habit.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:00 PM on July 16, 2007


he provided funding upfront to capture this video, in the hopes of someday finding buyers/licensees...until he actually finds someone willing to pay it's all just speculative investment

He did find somebody to pay, many somebodies actually. So, what makes Google so special that they shouldn't have to pay like the other licensees did? Is Google exempt from paying license fees for revenue generating content because they're cooler than CBS news?
posted by MikeMc at 2:00 PM on July 16, 2007


MikeMc: it's a deliberately bad analogy, of course, but the ire is real...he wants to get paid for his work, sure, but he is an investor in every meaningful sense: he provided funding upfront to capture this video, in the hopes of someday finding buyers/licensees

Actually it's just a stupid analogy. He wants to paid because he owns the copyright to the material.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2007


Termite writes "Yeah, but why shouldn't I pay for what I want - songs, books or whatever?"

I think your confusion in this case stems from a misunderstanding of the scarcity of the items in question. You pay for things because they are scarce. Bits are not scarce in any realistic sense.

If the books, songs, or whatever are in the public domain, the are absolutely not scarce (unless they're simply impossible to obtain). If they aren't in the public domain, they're still not scarce given the trivial nature of copying bits. However, we have created an artificial scarcity through taxpayer-funded subsidies on the monopolies held by the authors. Fooling around with market forces has side effects. In this case, the side effect is everyone figuring out that there is no real scarcity and acting on that knowledge.
posted by mullingitover at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


I don't pay to listen to the radio.

Sponsors pay

I don't pay to watch TV

Sponsors pay

I don't pay to listen to someone singing on the street

Somebody's paying the buskers or they wouldn't keep showing up


I don't pay to play games with my friends


Somebody bought the game (?)

I don't pay to enjoy a sculpture in the park

Somebody bought the sculpture form the artist

In the end somebody is paying...
posted by MikeMc at 2:07 PM on July 16, 2007


Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese:

Youtube would have to employ an insane amount of people to proactively check for copyright. They're not the publishers - they're not making profit being publishers, they're making profit by providing a space for other people to be publishers. It's not youtube's responsibility to ensure people publishing on their space have rights to the content; that would be virtually impossible, as they have no way of knowing who owns what, or whether users have the rights to it, if their users lie.

He wants youtube to check every video posted to see if its infringing, rather than wait to be informed then take it down as as the law requires. It is unreasonable, just as it's unreasonable to expect the phone companies to manually listen in on phone conversations to ensure people are sharing music illegally, or ISPs to check every webpage download manually to make sure the downloader has the rights to download a copy.

Anyway, its my real dinner time, and I think I've repeated myself enough for one night :) Have fun y'all.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:08 PM on July 16, 2007


Delmoi et al. All these arguments about how "copyright infringement" is different from plain old stealing are just lost on me. They just don't make a wit of common sense. Particularly when they are couched in pseudo-technical language. Orwell loved to skewer that stuff. I'm a moron tho, so don't try to explain.

I'll stick with "if it belongs to someone else, you shouldn't take it with out asking" and "if you are helping people steal, you should take some responsibility." At least that I can understand.
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:10 PM on July 16, 2007


He wants to paid because he owns the copyright to the material.

No, he wants to be paid because he owns the copyright to the material and it is being distributed/used. I'm sure Tur has a gazillion hours of footage that no one wants to distribute, use, or view. I don't think he expects to be paid for it.
posted by dobbs at 2:16 PM on July 16, 2007


Anything that can put an end to the industry that was responsible for the movie Glitter is okay in my book.

Bob Tur is just one guy. Alone, he can't bring down the whole thing, but what if there were ten Bob Tur's out there? Or a hundred? Or a thousand? What if every single person who has paperwork proving that some random five minutes found in YouTube is their copyrighted work, and they decide to mortgage their home and sell everything they have to fight for their copyright in court?

I've recently noticed others in YouTube being cited by critics for their use of copyrighted materials. Karaoke might be fun to do on YouTube, or videos of girls dancing to their favorite music seems popular for some strange reason *clears throat* but what if a singer gets noticed by a major label, or a dancer networks with a legitimate choreographer? Does that person suddenly become responsible for using copyrighted material in order to become noticed?

I did a video awhile back where I sang an Elton John song for a friend. She asked me to do it. I didn't do it cuz I figured I'd get discovered. In fact I figured people would laugh, but my friend wanted to hear me sing on YouTube and I did and she was happy and that settles that.

I doubt Elton John's gonna come knocking on my door demanding money from me, but other people have played or sang that song on YouTube too, and their versions are much better than mine. Maybe one of them will get discovered or whatever you call it. What happens then? And why is there a line there?

Does this mean if someone auditions on a stage for a stage play, they can only use public domain materials to audition with, on the off chance that performance might get recorded by someone in the room with a cellphone, who would then post it to the Web for the world to see? You could be around a water cooler, quoting from David Letterman's comedy routine last night, and end up with a lawsuit from CBS. That's just silly.

If left unchecked, the suits and countersuits that may develop could bog down the 'attorney industry' making the judicial system grind to a halt. It's already been moving like mollasses for decades now. Also, one's copyright is only as good as one's ability to defend it legally. So if you can't afford to pay lawyers to protect your copyright, you can lose it.

How the hell is that a lucrative system for anybody except the lawyers? Hopefully someday the artists with copyrights and the artists using those works to create new works will realize that their real enemy is not one another - and they'll start attacking the lawyers for making creative expression so damned expensive, when it's supposed to be free.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:23 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Delmoi et al. All these arguments about how "copyright infringement" is different from plain old stealing are just lost on me

Simply put, stealing a cookbook from Border's is theft, Xeroxing your favorite recipe in a cookbook and sending it your Aunt Martha is copyright infringement.
posted by MikeMc at 2:24 PM on July 16, 2007


Web video is out of the box, and it's never going back in. No lawsuit will stop it because no lawsuit can touch each and every corner of the internet. Just like the death of Napster failed to stop music trading, and the crippling of Kazza failed to stop successors like LimeWire. The YouTube thing is interesting, but ultimately they will have to deal with the copyright holders just like everyone else, and someone's going to have to get their money.

A more important question might be "how are you going to take on the pirates?". The Pirate Bay is hard at work developing a "next-gen" encrypted, anonymous peer-to-peer protocol. The pirates, and this is a generalization, don't care about and aren't in it for the money. What happens when media piracy becomes anonymous, encrypted and as easy to do as say downloading podcasts in iTunes?

Media piracy hasn't come close to hitting the mainstream yet because 1) it's not easy enough to do, 2) users can be caught and they fear legal recourse. Take those two roadblocks out, and everyone who doesn't have the moral qualms about downloading will be - and that's when the real copyright discussion will begin. I say it's 3 to 5 years away, even sooner if they ever figure out a away around HDCP (even the idea of it gives cable executives nightmares...)
posted by SweetJesus at 2:27 PM on July 16, 2007


All these arguments about how "copyright infringement" is different from plain old stealing are just lost on me

You can't steal people's ideas literally, but you can steal their ideas figuratively. Same difference - property theft is physical and literal, while copyright infringement is metaphysical and figurative.

Other than that, they're pretty much the same. It all depends how strict your definition of "theft" is.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:31 PM on July 16, 2007


Does this mean if someone auditions on a stage for a stage play, they can only use public domain materials to audition with, on the off chance that performance might get recorded by someone in the room with a cellphone, who would then post it to the Web for the world to see?

If you are making money off of the audition tapes and the play in question isn't public domain, the author of the play should get paid.

Damn near every television station in America shows Seinfeld reruns 2-3 times a day. Why should they have to pay for the right to broadcast that show? Seriously? Who the hell is Jerry Seinfeld to demand payment for old material? Screw Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David and the rest, they got paid once by NBC and they should be happy with that.
posted by MikeMc at 2:33 PM on July 16, 2007


mullingitover: I think your confusion in this case stems from a misunderstanding of the scarcity of the items in question. You pay for things because they are scarce.

I do? That's the main reason why we pay for things?

In these discussions people always talk about the copyright owners, the artists, the record companies, etc. I would like to shift the perspective around, and look at the other end: you, the user. You want entertainment (music, video, etc). Why shouldn't you pay for it, like all those other things you are willing to pay for, scarce or not.
posted by Termite at 2:33 PM on July 16, 2007


As you can imagine there is a strong black market for pirated PDFs. Mine included. Each one steals income from me

No, it doesn't. I've got terabytes of PDFed books backed up to DVD, and I guarantee that I would never have purchased even a single one of them. When I want to buy a book, a buy a book. When I want to have a copy of something to avoid a trip to the library, I download it.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2007


Termite writes "In these discussions people always talk about the copyright owners, the artists, the record companies, etc. I would like to shift the perspective around, and look at the other end: you, the user. You want entertainment (music, video, etc). Why shouldn't you pay for it, like all those other things you are willing to pay for, scarce or not."

Because there's no need to.
posted by mullingitover at 2:39 PM on July 16, 2007


ArkhanJG: I don't pay to listen to the radio. I don't pay to watch TV. I don't pay to listen to someone singing on the street. I don't pay to play games with my friends. I don't pay to enjoy a sculpture in the park. I don't pay for watching TV or listening to the radio on the internet.

If this were really true, then you are a free rider. As MikeMC notes, the fact that you aren't paying for these things does not mean that they are free. Somebody is paying for them in some capacity.

In fact, you do "pay" for these things in less obvious ways. If the radio is commercial, you have to listen to ads, a "payment" in time rather than cash; if its public radio, then you (I hope) contribute during their fund drives. If its public art, you paid for that sculpture in the park with your taxes. You paid for the equipment that you use to play games with your friends.

I'm no fan of the rampant overextension of intellectual property; but to pretend that things are free when they aren't is disingenuous.
posted by googly at 2:39 PM on July 16, 2007


The answer to Termite's question is fairly simple: when the time comes that people can in a few minutes download and synthesize a future-iphone for future-pennies, it won't be very smart for future-apple to charge in the neighborhood of future-$600 for it; if they do, a lot of future-people will probably download-and-synthesize on their future-computers.

This is basic economics: if the total cost to an individual to make an item is X (total cost here includes time, labor, materials, opportunity costs, risk exposure, etc.), it's unlikely that that individual will buy the item from some source charging X + "a large amount"; one can attempt to force potential purchasers' hand -- eg, via government intervention -- but the bigger the discrepancy between the "true cost" (in the sense of what the potential purchaser knows it would cost to make directly) and the other source's price the stronger the incentive to do it oneself (and, consequently, the more difficulty the government will have intervening to obtain its end).

And so in the case of copyright: it exists only through a rhetorical social contract: "the populace" agrees to abstain from copying particular works; in exchange for agreeing not to make copies, the populace is supposed to receive more and better new works than they would otherwise receive.

As recently as three decades ago this was a pretty decent bargain -- printing presses, record foundries, and film duplicators were all expensive to own and time-consuming to operate, so the public's agreeing not to copy was essentially free to them -- but now it looks like a worse, more-expensive-to-enforce bargain with each passing year. So the public is paying twice over -- once in opportunity cost (all the works that could be populating their library, but aren't) and again in legal fees (which are collected via taxes to run the courts, increased operating costs for businesses, etc.) for what is basically the same-old-stuff they've always gotten.

If rightsholders were smart they'd be making it substantially easier to identify the proper copyright owner (some kind of online registry, easily searchable) and making it substantially simpler to obtain proper licenses, perhaps even going so far as some sort of compulsory licensing scheme. As is their actions are not only effectively charging much more than wise but making it tremendously difficult to obtain proper clearances.

Morally to some it looks like "why should megacorp profit off of the little guy's hard work without kicking him any of the cash"; to me a lot of the "creator's complaints" sound morally like those guys that squeegee your car while you pay for gas and then harass you for a tip. Or for the better extended metaphor:

I wake up and notice someone has mowed my lawn. I go outside and the neighbor's kid has done it on spec; when I inform him I didn't want my yawn mowed he gets unhappy. Later that week I hire a professional yard guy to clean up the rough edges this guy left so I can throw my weekend barbeque; later the next week I'm dragged in to court for enjoying the fruits of the neighbor's kid's labor, and my yard guy is drawn into court for the chunk of his work that was made easier by the neighbor's kid.

Morality is one of those things that for which everyone brings their own.

And, because I'm a mean old bat: I found a copy of one of humblepigeon's books online and have been downloading it over and over this whole afternoon; I may be up to several thousand downloads by this point, which means I must have lifted hundreds of thousands of dollars right out of the pigeon's pocket...
posted by little miss manners at 2:45 PM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


As you can imagine there is a strong black market for pirated PDFs. Mine included. Each one steals income from me

No, it doesn't

Only the MPAA and RIAA can accurately measure potential lost income, only they know that if my *AHEM* friend hadn't downloaded Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle he most certainly would have paid money to see that POS at the multi-plex and perhaps bought a DVD as well. I know that my friend would never have paid a dime to see that dreck in any form. So was money really lost? Depends on who you ask.
posted by MikeMc at 2:52 PM on July 16, 2007


I wake up and notice someone has mowed my lawn. I go outside and the neighbor's kid has done it on spec;

The content creator in this case didn't upload his video to YouTube on spec. He has already sold broadcast rights to the video countless times, why should a for profit entity like YouTube/Google be exempt from paying the same type of fee that the other for profit broadcast outlets did? Google knows exactly what's going on, they know that there's virtual tons of infringing material on their site and they don't care. Google has a good public image and deep, deep pockets so why should they have to follow the same rules as other media outlets
?
posted by MikeMc at 3:01 PM on July 16, 2007


Let's pretend for a moment I get a time machine, go back in time a few hundred years, and try to explain copyright infringement to the native americans living off the land that we so take for granted. Oh, and imagine I brought along a convenient language translator cuz I'm too lazy to also teach them english. It's been three days. I talk their ears off, and the tribe is strangely patient with me and contrary to my fears they don't threaten to kill me or anything. Their chief has been of particular charity and kindness, and his behavior is that of mollifying a mildly crazy person who appears harmless as a fruitbat.

Despite the fact my voice is hoarse, I'm still talking, "Oh and by the way your descendants? They run casinos now."

He smiles at me again, "What?"

"Yeah. Cuz we stole all this land and everything from you."

"But the land is not ours for you to take from us."

"I just spent three days explaining to you about copyright infringement and how that's not how it is."

"But it is. We belong to the land. It does not belong to us."

"No. The land is yours, and my ancestors will take it from you."

"Would you like meat from our kill? It is very fresh."

"No thanks. I'm trying to explain to you about your descendants."

"What is a casino?"

"It's where my kinda people go lose money gambling."

"And my people will own these casinos?"

"Yeah."

"My wife made us steamed vegetables. She has a special way of making them spicy. You should try some."

"I'm trying to help you understand your future. The future of your people. Of my people. Of all of us! And all you can do is offer me food? Doesn't what I say make you angry? Or frustrated? Or ...something??"

"It will rain soon my new friend. When it rains, the rain will fall on us all and then it will go on. The rain goes to the plants. It goes to the streams. It goes to the rivers. The rivers flow out to the sea. Then the sky takes rain from the seas to make clouds. The sky may believe it owns the clouds, but they are really rain."

"...Huh?"

"Have a leg from this beast. My wife cooked it with spices. It is very good."

"...okay."

"There will not always be your people or my people, my new friend. However, there will always be rain."
posted by ZachsMind at 3:03 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I like YouTube, even if most of its users are depressingly inane. But I hope this guy shuts them down. Google has to learn manners. It needs to be taught a lesson. It needs to be punched squarely in the face.

Funny, I've never heard of that part of either constitution (yours or ours, or anyone else's, for that matter) that put your wallet over everyone else's free speech.
posted by oaf at 3:10 PM on July 16, 2007


Yeah, but why shouldn't I pay for what I want - songs, books or whatever? ... Again and again I hear a lot of people spend a lot of time making informed and intelligent arguments that all boil down to that they shouldn't have to pay for something they want.

This is a multifaceted issue, and I'll just touch on one right now: accessing value of content. I apologize ahead of time for the length.

Most all goods have some subjective component to their value or worth, but content as we are discussing here has its value determined solely by subjectivity.

Consumers simply have no idea on this issue, their preference/utility curves are simply too complex for even themselves to explain, and content providers are all over the place.

Let's consider what SHOULD be a very straightforward question: How much is a new Beyonce song worth?

To me, it is worth nothing, because I don't care for her singing, and I don't download her songs, even for "free". To some fans, her new single might be worth $5 on the day it is released. Maybe $2 the week after. Maybe $0.50 after 3 weeks and they've heard it 100 times.

So, what do you charge for that song?

iTunes decided a song is worth $0.99. That's honestly as good a number as any other, and has more basis in the psychology of the number 99 than any real assessment of worth.

But, understand there are any number of people out there that might pay for a song, but not the asking price. Someone might pay $0.69, but not $0.99. Someone else might pay $0.23. Someone else might pay $0.02. But the problem is, there is no mechanism for them to pay $0.23. They either pay $0.99 or nothing, and so they either do without or they get an unauthorized copy for $0.00

Some content providers have tried to meter this, and often times fail. In fact, iTunes is pretty much the only very successful endeavor I can think of which meters individual content items.

Consider CNN which I mentioned above. Some people may have thought it was worth $5 a month to watch video on a news site. Apparently this was "not many". So few, in fact, that CNN dropped the endeavor entirely. This is interesting, as one would probably expect that if it was making ANY money, they'd continue to charge for it.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to the internet media superplex.... advertising.

CNN has decided they can make more money off giving their content away FOR FREE, with advertising, than simply charging for it.

Why this seems so revolutionary is truly bewildering to me, since this was figured out many years ago with broadcast and cable television.

CNN already gives away ALL their content FOR FREE on the TELEVISION. Why they thought consumers would be willing to pay a premium to watch video on their computer that they could watch for free on their television really was a fit of what Greenspan would call "irrational exuberance".

Seriously, think about that a moment. CNN, at some point, thought it would be a successful endeavor to charge visitors to their FREE website, which was already being supported by advertisers, a fee to watch video content that was already being offered up on their FREE news channel, supported by advertisers.

Despite the success of iTunes, I still don't think its the right model, and I think it is very temporary. I think the success of iTunes is 90% due to the success of the iPod and only 10% due to figuring out $.99 is a good price for a song.

So, to get back to where we started, how much to charge for content?

Some content is free. In fact, when you get down to it, at the consumer level almost ALL content is free. TV and radio serve up the vast, vast majority of media consumption in this country, and from the consumer perspective, it is free. And for people who try to charge, many times they find out they can make MORE money by GIVING IT AWAY.

Yes this is complicated. If it wasn't, it would all be figured out by now.

I think subscription is the future, despite all the gnashing of teeth. For typical music listeners, it is without question the way to go, if you get past the psychological barriers to it.

For $15 a month I can have unlimited access to practically every album from every major label for the past 30 years. The portable music player has already won the battle of "how do i listen to music in the world". Most new cars have jacks to plug your audio device straight into the factory stereo.

For $15 a month I can listen to practically anything I want as much as I want, and never have to even WORRY about infringement or metering, or for that matter, storage. I can redownload a 3 minute song in about 10 seconds.

I subscribe to satellite television, if I stop paying for it, then it stops flowing to me, and I have to buy individual shows on DVD or something.

If I subscribe to a music service, and I stop paying for it, then it stop flowing to me, and I have to buy individual CDs or something.

Subscription has proven itself for almost 1/2 a century as the consumer preferred method of paying for most content. Music has been the sole exception, for the most part, because lack of technology. I couldn't subscribe to a radio station that let me hear my favorite songs whenever. Now I can, and it is much more cost effective for all but the most miserly music consumers.

Anyway, all the above is just my opinion, and an honest attempt to answer your question.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:14 PM on July 16, 2007


I'm assuming this footage was shown in court, yes? What is the copyright status of courtroom evidence? I find it hard to believe that anyone would argue that the public good is best served by allowing a copyright holder to horde a historical, legal document. Free distribution of ideas is integral to truth finding. For instance, the blogger-led forgery discoveries. On the other side of the fence, how much more prevalent would the conspiracy theories be if the Zapruder tape was not widely distributed or if the moon landings were not televised?

Imagine the progression of science if all scientists discouraged peer review of their work by patenting all of their experiments and banishing anyone from recreating them.

It's not just science that depends on peer review. The ideal of freedom of speech is based on the importance of the marketplace of ideas, where all ideas are priced, not by the monopoly power of the vendors, but by the value of their truth. I don't think it's a stretch at all to say that the overwhelming monopoly power given to (or, arguably, bought by) content "owner" middlemen in the late 20th century has given this minority the ability to change the rules of the marketplace and set value according to a different standard. Ideas that are judged by any basis other than truth have always, without historical fail, led to very bad things. Just because that new standard is the seemingly non-partisan idea of "profitability," that doesn't mean it is harmless. If anything, it is a nihilist motive that leads to nihilist ethics and nihilist outcomes.

Today copyright is used deliberately to create a chilling effect on freedom of speech and to banish truth. Scientology is a great case study in how this power can be wielded to purposefully obscure truth.

Allowing the copyright debate to continue to be limited to discussions about Napster, music, movies and entertainment is a red herring. This issue is much, much, much more important to society than the question as to whether or not Sonny Bono's great, great grandchildren will be getting a royalty check for "I Got You Babe." It seems interesting to me that the same power players are always involved whether you're talking about media monopoly, copyright, net neutrality, public access to the publicly owned radio spectrum, DRM, etc... They clearly understand the interconnectedness and the stakes at play here a lot better than casual file sharers and politicians do. Ultimately, it will come down to privacy rights and speech suppression, because, at the end of the day, a monopoly of ideas is unenforceable without the ability to clamp down on individual acts and individual communication. A monopoly of ideas that acts with a profit motive is no different than a monopoly of ideas that acts with a political motive or a monopoly of ideas that acts with an inquisition motive. Anyone who's paying attention has seen that this has already started in small and large ways.
posted by Skwirl at 3:24 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


awwww, that's cute.
posted by shmegegge at 3:28 PM on July 16, 2007


I can't believe this guy has had three "technical" heart attacks and still flies over hot spots in urban areas.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:33 PM on July 16, 2007


MikeMc: I guess I should clarify my positions. Item by item:

* I hate the sense of entitlement ("deserve to be paid") from what are in point of fact speculators. I don't see artistic or entertainment ventures as any more worthy of guaranteed returns than, say, financial speculation, and financial speculators generally understand that their gambles may not come out ahead; if you don't want to take the risk you don't get the risk premium.
* It looks like Tur has questionable judgment (throwing away the return on his investment is essentially an ill-advised double-or-nothing) but his copyright claims are all legitimate, and we'll see how his case turns out in due time. * I don't have any opinion on the "moral merit" of the footage and his profits off it, etc.
* Doing proactive screening is prohibitively expensive and unlikely to succeed, so anyone mandating it is essentially asking Youtube et al to shut down. And it seems hard to fathom a precedent that forced a youtube-site to proactively screen all submissions not opening a front that would eventually leave ISPs and the like at risk of similar requirements.
* Moving afield from the direct case and comments: the "expense" side of the public's half of the "rhetorical bargain/social contract" copyright represents has been increasing -- both in terms of foregone copies and in terms of enforcement expense -- but the "reward" side has remained essentially constant (if not declining, given complaints about formulaic movies, bad pop music, and so forth...it certainly doesn't seem to be increasing in quality); if the terms keep getting worse for one of an agreement's parties it isn't surprising when that party bails out
* Or, more generally, although you may be within your rights to demand adherence to a contract regardless of circumstances, there are always questions of advisability: if you actually want the counterparty to follow through, it is advisable for you to make it as easy as possible. Right now the rightsholders are not making it easy at all -- they charge much more than they probably should (at least for computer-replicable media), and make it very difficult for Joe Teenage Remixer to obtain necessary clearances to upload his silly video/music combination. Making it hard is within the rightsholders' rights, but probably not advisable if they wish to keep getting those rights granted to them by the public. Compulsory licensing and an automated, internet-accessible rights clearinghouse would be a good first step.

And my snark to humblepigeon is a joke, of course, but the punchline is that (s)he can't tell the difference.

As for Google et al: I tend to think they've read the same tea leaves I have and assume most copyright is going to be unenforceable in practice soon (if it isn't already, a few winners of the litigation lottery notwithstanding), and thus they are prepping for a future in which finding things is more important -- and thus more "deserving" of reward -- than making things. And, their bets are hedged: who better than, say, google, to do the job of enforcement across the internet, what with their expertise in indexing and organizing content?

And for the picking apart my lawnboy analogy: it may not hold together as well as I'd like (this has been a thread of moronic analogies).

As the laws are written: Tur is entitled to try and claim a chunk of whatever profit the more-findable location brings in, and to try and obtain damages from the infringer(s); no argument from me as to what he is entitled to do.

It just strikes me that a lot of times the 'creators' lack the panache and vision to fully realize their ideas (or even the hustle to bring their product back to market), and so morally it sits wrong with me that creators can effectively levy private tax on those doing things the creator wasn't doing or was incapable of doing. In effect: the fact that the law has no sense of rightholder dereliction and of 'sufficiently transformative to not merit paying financial tribute' to me leaves its morality, to my taste, very dubious.
posted by little miss manners at 3:44 PM on July 16, 2007


MarshallPoe: Delmoi et al. All these arguments about how "copyright infringement" is different from plain old stealing are just lost on me. They just don't make a wit of common sense. Particularly when they are couched in pseudo-technical language. Orwell loved to skewer that stuff.

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS THEFT

posted by anazgnos at 3:44 PM on July 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


I found a copy of one of humblepigeon's books online and have been downloading it over and over this whole afternoon; I may be up to several thousand downloads by this point, which means I must have lifted hundreds of thousands of dollars right out of the pigeon's pocket...

Wow, that's funny the way you mock this writer's troubles.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:50 PM on July 16, 2007


IMHO, the copyright system needs an overhaul in the worst way.

Be careful what you wish for. My guess is the worst way is precisely how it will be done.
posted by srboisvert at 4:02 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Orwell loved to skewer that stuff. I'm a moron tho, so don't try to explain.

I'll assume you're misrepresenting Orwell so that you avoid violating an expired copyright and not because you have him completely wrong.
posted by srboisvert at 4:17 PM on July 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Googly:

You're missing my point (and selectively quoting): as I said,
...because creators are usually getting paid by some method in the other ones, whereas on the internet they're quite often not; there likely needs to be a mechanism by which people creating interesting stuff can be rewarded. That mechanism need not be copyright.

Yes, somebody paid for most of those things I got 'free'. In some cases, it was indeed (indirectly) me, such as my TV licence for BBC content, or advertising. However, I got them free at the point of delivery. People don't look at the cost of things as a society, they just look at their own bottom line (alas)

I'm directly answering, 'why shouldn't I pay through the nose for every breath I take, everything I see and everything I hear?' - because there's a whole ton of stuff that people don't pay for - directly. They buy physical goods, not ethereal entertainment. They pay for a TV, tv signal comes down the aerial, free. They buy a radio, radio signal comes down the aerial, free. They go to a park, for free. Yes, all of these things are usually paid for eventually, by someone - even if its an artist donating their time freely to paint a mural on a a spare wall - but not them, and not then. If TV is 'free', why not free TV on the internet? After all, they're watching adverts alongside it... they just don't happen to be adverts on behalf of the company that owns the copyright.

Media companies created this world where entertainment is ubiquitous, ever-present, delivered free at the point of use, and is now largely valueless in the eyes of the public. It's seen, and then its gone. Unless you're a music buff or the parent of a small child in love with Disney, most people own very few copies of things - they just watch the ephemera as it drifts past. Trying to reverse that when computers really do make making copies trivial is an exercise in frustration.

Me, personally? I don't agree with copyright. It's unfair, broken, and a hugely inefficient way of encouraging creators that largely pays out to bureaucratic middlemen and fake property barons, and I want little part of it. Get in touch with me when there's a sane system that actually is a fair deal for the public, instead of a giant rip off allowing people to ringfence the public domain for all eternity because they 'own it'.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:23 PM on July 16, 2007


I have a great deal of trouble believing that ebooks are bleeding authors dry. I can barely bear to read magazines on my computer, let alone books. Maybe its just me, but if I want to read something, i'll buy it out of convenience. The idea that the problem comes close to the music/film issue sounds laughable to me.

As for Mr Tur - aint $5million enough for one afternoon's work? I mean, I understand, but surely...
posted by criticalbill at 4:42 PM on July 16, 2007


I think many are missing the point. It isn't about getting things for 'free'. It's about paying when it's worth it. I like to listen to music casually at work while I code, but I sure as hell don't think that I should pay a dollar a song (I have over 400). I just want background noise that doesn't repeat. That isn't worth the money. However, I do pay a monthly subscription to napster and gladly break the DRM so that I can do what I want with the music. I did, however, spend a ton of money on box sets for some of the bands I seriously enjoy and wanted to get the best of ( Same thing with Box sets of TV shows). Since the music industry doesn't seem to understand how to properly value music anymore, I just did it myself :)

This video issue on Youtube is similar. I am not watching Tur's video specifically to see his damned work. I may have gotten there through about 5 other links. Hell, it's hard to see in that little grainy screen anyway. Why do I even bother? It's all about ease of use. I am not copying the thing for my collection! I am just casually viewing it.

Bottom line, I will pay for something when it's worth it, but I don't plan on paying for everything I see or hear, which is what so many seem to want. Perspective has been lost.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:48 PM on July 16, 2007


Why doesnt (or perhaps they do) Youtube pay the copyright holder the value of any ad revenue recieved through the pageviews of the copyrighted material?
posted by criticalbill at 4:55 PM on July 16, 2007


If TV is 'free', why not free TV on the internet?

Well, the airwaves are public, and the internet for the most part (the infrastructure at least) is privately owned. It's federally mandated for all licensed television broadcasters send out that signal, but nothing similar exists for the internet.

. It's unfair, broken, and a hugely inefficient way of encouraging creators that largely pays out to bureaucratic middlemen and fake property barons, and I want little part of it.

The "It's Not Fair" argument... Since when is life fair? There are many hugely inefficient, bureaucratic systems filled with middlemen (who's rules have been codified into law) we all have to deal with. We don't get to pick and choose which ones we like and which ones we don't have to deal with.

People don't look at the cost of things as a society, they just look at their own bottom line (alas)

Again, so what? People's perceptions of realty and realty are two different things. If I shoot a guy and get caught, I still go to jail even if I think he's a real asshole and deserved it. If I steal a movie and get caught, I still get sued even if I think the copyright system is an out dated, totalitarian art-destroying hegemony. You do not live in your own fantasy world.

After all, they're watching adverts alongside it... they just don't happen to be adverts on behalf of the company that owns the copyright.

If I own something and I license it for play to NBC, CBS and Fox, I don't get a say in what ads are played next to it. They pay me a fee, and they use it how they see fit under the terms of the license. Why shouldn't it be the same for YouTube? It's essentially the same thing, just a different medium. You think CNN doesn't pay a fee to Reuters to have it's video feeds on cnn.com and CNN on cable? How about they stop paying them for the online feeds, "cuz' the internet is free"? They'd be sued, and they'd lose for violating copyright laws.

Look, there are problems with the copyright system, but this information-should-be-free bullshit has got to stop. It's just not realistic. Someone's attempting to make money of it, and someone's going to pay if they value it enough. If they didn't, they'd get rid of it. But they deliver a lot of eyeballs...

If these sites were to stop bootlegging all television shows, movies, music videos, tv commercials, anime and all other forms of potentially copyrighted media, their traffic would drop substantially. The user created video stuff is great in short bursts, but for the long term, I'll stick with professionals. Their price is just going to have to come down in the lfuture to compete.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:56 PM on July 16, 2007


Honestly, if artists and creators don't get paid to create their works any more (e.g., copyright), you're going to see less artists creating. It's that simple -- it pays the bills. Ask any artist who's tried to pay the bills solely on "donations" and you'll find very few who can make that economy work.

The current law is the law -- disagree with it all you want, but if you violate it, then expect to suffer the consequences. Google included.

People who are saying, "Well, gee, it's up to copyright owners to police their works," excuse me? Sure, I'm happy to police my works on YouTube, but tell me how to police my works adequately on the other billion websites that could copy and profit off of my efforts? (And trust me, there are hundreds of new websites created everyday that are in the business of simply taking other people's works and profiting off of them as their own.)

I can't. And neither can any copyright owner realistically in the Internet age. The DMCA is flawed for many reasons, but also because it puts the onus on the owner of the intellectual property.
posted by docjohn at 5:12 PM on July 16, 2007


Sounds like you think the whole concept of the internet is flawed as well. That genie ain't going back in that bottle.
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:27 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


little miss manners writes:

* I hate the sense of entitlement ("deserve to be paid") from what are in point of fact speculators. I don't see artistic or entertainment ventures as any more worthy of guaranteed returns than, say, financial speculation, and financial speculators generally understand that their gambles may not come out ahead; if you don't want to take the risk you don't get the risk premium.

You're kidding, right? Being deliberately disingenous? Trolling, maybe?

Financial speculators (say, investors in a company) speculate on the possibility that the company in which they invest will produce a product or service that people will want enough to purchase.

If they are right, they make money; if they are wrong, they do not.

Likewise with artistic or entertainment ventures; they are "speculating" on the prospect that the content they create will be something that people will want enough to purchase.

If they are right, they make money; if they are wrong, they do not.

How is this any kind of "guaranteed return?"
posted by dersins at 5:28 PM on July 16, 2007


"I can't. And neither can any copyright owner realistically in the Internet age. The DMCA is flawed for many reasons, but also because it puts the onus on the owner of the intellectual property."

Dude, did you just wake up and decide to start blaming the Internet? It's always been on the copyright owner to protect their work, whether it be player piano rolls or engraving plates. And OH MY GOD CHINEE ARE STEALING MY SHOWTUNES has been with us since easy reproduction.

You want absolute protection for your copyright? Build artefacts.
posted by klangklangston at 5:45 PM on July 16, 2007


The current law is the law -- disagree with it all you want, but if you violate it, then expect to suffer the consequences. Google included.

People who are saying, "Well, gee, it's up to copyright owners to police their works," excuse me?


According to the law (DMCA), that's exactly how it works, and YouTube/Google is in compliance. But I think your emphasis is wrong. Copyright owners don't have to (as in must) police their works, they have the right to police their works. Viacom doesn't have a legal leg to stand on, and neither does this guy. The goal of Viacom's lawsuit isn't to win, it's to gain negotiation leverage. I can't think that Tur really believes he's going to overturn the DMCA, he must be somewhat delusional.

The DMCA's compromise of rights was initially viewed to be far too in favor copyright holders. Why should copyright holders be able to pull anything off the net without court oversight? What ridiculous power to abuse free speech! And now people want more?

If the ball is going to swing in the other direction, let it swing in the form of fewer rights for copyright holders. Public forums, such as music.metafilter.com and YouTube, have great value and stimulate much creativity and authorship through an easy distribution channel. Let's not forget the purpose of copyright: to foster more creation. Don't choke off democratic distribution channels because of the potential for abuse. Police the abuse.

Make the posters of copyrighted material pay for their posting, certainly, but the forums are not responsible.

Ugh, I hate that I've become one of those people that rants about copyright.
posted by Llama-Lime at 6:04 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have a lot of sympathy for this guy. He spent a shitload of time and money and even took a certain physical risk to be prepared to be there to catch the big story -- and he finally did, to our benefit.

I can't say any more and probably shouldn't have said that.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:05 PM on July 16, 2007


They were found not guilty of most charges.

So was Conrad Black.

What happens when media piracy becomes anonymous, encrypted and as easy to do as say downloading podcasts in iTunes?

You aren't one of those crazies who thinks Freenet is usable, do you?
posted by oaf at 6:27 PM on July 16, 2007


Cool Papa Bell writes "The other reasonable expectation is 'don't be in a business that invites people to upload material that makes you liable for copyright infringement.'"

You must be unfamiliar with Usenet.

It's the same friggin thing.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:27 PM on July 16, 2007


lupus_yonderboy writes "I have a lot of sympathy for this guy. He spent a shitload of time and money and even took a certain physical risk to be prepared to be there to catch the big story -- and he finally did, to our benefit."

There's a certain point that it's not for anyone else's benefit except his own. He destroyed his family over it. Don Quixote was romantic, but it was satirical, certainly not to be emulated.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:32 PM on July 16, 2007


docjohn writes "The current law is the law -- disagree with it all you want, but if you violate it, then expect to suffer the consequences. Google included."

I don't know if you've actually read the law, but all Google has to do is comply with takedown notices. If Google disregards the legal actions of copyright holders, like if it ignores legitimate takedown notices from the copyright holder or their agents, then it will suffer. Otherwise, it's perfectly within the law. This isn't Napster. YouTube has significant uses aside from any copyright infringement - that's the litmus test from a legal standpoint - and it ends up in the media all the time for videos which show up there first (like some recent campaign commercials). As long as Google does there part when people inform them of infringement, they're really not in any sort of legal trouble.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:38 PM on July 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


krinklyfig writes "Google does there part"

their ... ugh
posted by krinklyfig at 6:38 PM on July 16, 2007


The DMCA is flawed for many reasons, but also because it puts the onus on the owner of the intellectual property.

You've got it wrong. The safe-harbor provision is about the only silver lining to the DMCA.

And OH MY GOD CHINEE ARE STEALING MY SHOWTUNES has been with us since easy reproduction.

You almost owed me a new keyboard and what's below it, because AppleCare doesn't cover accidental damage.
posted by oaf at 6:39 PM on July 16, 2007


Over the years, he estimates, the Denny tape has generated about $5 million in licensing fees. But Tur has spent almost an equal amount filing lawsuits to protect his content.

IOW, he could be a wealthy man with a good $5 mil in his pocket, despite the piracy, but he chooses to be a broke-ass man because he can't abide the piracy.

I do believe that's called cutting off one's nose despite one's face.

neither can any copyright owner realistically in the Internet age [police for piracy]

Because it was just so much easier during the days of the Pony Express. Why, one could just scoot from city to city looking in every shop and home for a copy of your sheet music, book of poems, painting, whatever. And then it's off on a world tour, because, goddammit, you just know those crooks in Australia got ahold of a copy and are making duplicates!

If anything, it is now easier to police for piracy, because one can do it from home.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:49 PM on July 16, 2007


five fresh fish writes "I do believe that's called cutting off one's nose despite one's face."

I believe that's actually called cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. But I might just be pedantic.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:52 PM on July 16, 2007


The notion of intellectual property was never a sound one. If it started with a certain justification (I don't agree with this but can grant it for the sake of argument), then it degenerated over the course of the 20th century into a situation where more or less all copyrights lasted for the lifetime of everyone involved. Corporations that made a killing on copyrights pushed for the extensions over and over again, seeking to lock in their profits for perpetuity even if they provided nothing at all new to the cultural commons. They went through every scheme in the book to increase profits that were entirely out of whack with the everyday world, and along with it stripped the modern world of vast swathes of its common cultural heritage, pent up behind lock and key for the forseeable future. And they now believe that it's their god given right to do so.

With the internet, the house of cards has been dealt sharp blow after sharp blow. Here, all content is equal – at the same resolution, a film made by a couple of teenagers in their backyard takes no more resources to share than a Hollywood blockbuster. A garage band's new mp3 is no different to acquire from the latest Billboard hit single. The internet is giving us back the cultural commons, with all the good and bad that will imply, because it's so easy to share material.

The big content providers in this day and age don't have all the advantages any more. They don't have a monopoly on the way that people see TV and film; YouTube is changing that overnight. They don't control all access to music, or even the printed word. They have to figure out how to make profit in the new world. And that's not a tragedy. This guy Tur – he's just a little opportunist who has made more money than I (and, most likely, you) can hope to see for decades by feeding off the big opportunists. To me, it's more important to get the commons back than to worry about this guy's millions of dollars.
posted by graymouser at 7:08 PM on July 16, 2007


But I might just be pedantic.

You just began a sentence with a conjunction.
posted by oaf at 7:13 PM on July 16, 2007


Delmoi et al. All these arguments about how "copyright infringement" is different from plain old stealing are just lost on me. -- MarshallPoe
It would be one thing to say "I understand what you're saying, but I disagree because..." but you're essentially saying, "I don't understand." Well, that's fine. Lots of people do understand, but it's a bit of an abstract concept and not everyone will get it. That's fine. But the law is on youtube's side whether you like it or not. Is that simple enough for you?
Orwell loved to skewer that stuff.-- MarshallPoe
No. In fact, orwell skewered the exact opposite, that is using language in a way to hide true meaning, which is exactly what you're doing. You're using the newspeak term of "Intellectual property" rather then the accurate word "copyright infringement" Copyright is not physical.
I'm a moron tho, so don't try to explain.-- MarshallPoe
Yes. But don't lie and say people didn't try to explain it to you. They did, just tell the truth and say that you don't understand the argument. And the reason for this is that you're, as you say, "a moron".
Simply put, stealing a cookbook from Border's is theft, Xeroxing your favorite recipe in a cookbook and sending it your Aunt Martha is copyright infringement.
Exactly, and the victim is different, in the first case border's is the victim, and in the second the author is the victim. They are completely different laws, and completely different types of laws (criminal vs. civil, for the most part)
The "It's Not Fair" argument... Since when is life fair? There are many hugely inefficient, bureaucratic systems filled with middlemen (who's rules have been codified into law) we all have to deal with. We don't get to pick and choose which ones we like and which ones we don't have to deal with. ... Look, there are problems with the copyright system, but this information-should-be-free bullshit has got to stop. It's just not realistic. -- SweetJesus
Well wait, why is that? If we don't care bout fairness then why not simply do whatever I feel like doing? There are bureaucratic systems full of officious wankers, and there are Internets full of pirates. Why is one worse then the other? If we're not worried about "fairness" then there is no basic reason not to infringe copyright, and no reason not to steal for that matter.
Honestly, if artists and creators don't get paid to create their works any more (e.g., copyright), you're going to see less artists creating. -- docjohn
Well, ultimately who cares? I'd rather have my FREEDOM then 72 hours of reality TV programming produced every day. There will always be people out there want to crate art, regardless of remittance. Someone (I forget who) said that there were millions of musicians out there who would rather be famous then rich. Art is valuable, but I don't know if it's really more valuable then, for example, youtube. There is plenty of content out there, and if copyright disappeared today I could probably live my whole life simply reading and viewing content made in the past century. Plus whatever free stuff was put out there.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Because it was just so much easier during the days of the Pony Express.

Funny you should mention copyright protection "back in the day."

One of the most famous casualties of copyright infringement was Georges Méliès, the director of Le Voyage dans la lune, arguably the first science fiction movie, released in 1902.

The movie was pirated by Thomas Edison's cronies and released without Méliès' knowledge in the United States, where it played to packed houses. Méliès didn't make a dime from the movie's U.S. receipts, and eventually went broke, despite having created one of the most popular movies of its day.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:32 PM on July 16, 2007


docjohn writes "Honestly, if artists and creators don't get paid to create their works any more (e.g., copyright), you're going to see less artists creating.

Artists will always get paid to create work by those who love that work and are willing to pay to see it continue. Trust me on that.

Anyway, look what happened since Napster of '99. Myspace and YouTube have exploded the way music promotion works. Have you noticed at all how many musical artists are out there, publishing, creating? Holy shit, it's a lot. A hell of a lot more than I've ever seen before, and I've worked in the business. Give people a means to get their stuff out there, and the smart ones will use it, not fear it.

It's that simple -- it pays the bills. Ask any artist who's tried to pay the bills solely on 'donations' and you'll find very few who can make that economy work.

Yeah, well, there aren't many who figure out how to make the economy of artistry work, given the old system of big labels. I think there are more than a few who figured out how to take advantage of how it works now before you ever thought it was a problem. I know some of em, myself.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:58 PM on July 16, 2007


Well wait, why is that? If we don't care bout fairness then why not simply do whatever I feel like doing? There are bureaucratic systems full of officious wankers, and there are Internets full of pirates. Why is one worse then the other? If we're not worried about "fairness" then there is no basic reason not to infringe copyright, and no reason not to steal for that matter.

Do whatever you want. I don't care. ArkhanJG was the one making the "it's not fair" argument, not me. He said the system is unfair, so it's ok to ignore it, despite the fact the "system" we're talking about running around violates copyright laws. Overwhelming odds are you and I and he won't get caught. but he shouldn't act like he's some modern day freedom fighter or something. ArkhanJG's just stealing shit to spite some people he'll never meet.

And I'm fine with that, as long as he calls it what it is.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:12 PM on July 16, 2007


I would not be surprised if a court holds that YouTube is not a qualified "service provider" under the DMCA, and thus not entitled to all of the protections of the DMCA.

If you read section 512(c) of the DMCA, there are rather stringent requirements for a service provider that stores stuff, like YouTube. More particularly, a service provide that provides storage must satisfy a conjuctive test:

(A)(i) does not have actual knowledge that the material or an activity using the material on the system or network is infringing;

(ii) in the absence of such actual knowledge, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent; or

(iii) upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material;

(B) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity; and

(C) upon notification of claimed infringement as described in paragraph (3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity.

If certain infringing content appears repeatedly, I think there is a strong argument that YouTube has an ongoing duty to monitor in order to satisfy this part of the DMCA. I reckon the class action I mentiond above will test this in court.
posted by exogenous at 8:16 PM on July 16, 2007


I believe that's actually called cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. But I might just be pedantic. Oh, fart. You are, of course, right. I am chagrined.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:55 PM on July 16, 2007


and thank you
posted by five fresh fish at 10:56 PM on July 16, 2007



Again, so what? People's perceptions of realty and realty are two different things... If I steal a movie and get caught, I still get sued even if I think the copyright system is an out dated, totalitarian art-destroying hegemony. You do not live in your own fantasy world.

I don't believe I at any point said that I believed the law did not apply to me, or to Google. I can believe it's an unjust law, and campaign against it and its implementation, and still accept that violation of it results in punishment. Whether google has actually broken it is another question - both opinions are held strongly here.

Copyright law is broken. If everyone who violated copyright was sued, we'd sue most of the population. (all of these apply to the UK) Singing happy birthday before others. Quoting lyrics. Reading a book out loud. Inviting people over to watch a DVD. Keeping a copy of a tape off the TV after you've watched it. Encoding music and putting it on an ipod. Backing up disney's latest before your kid scratches it. Playing the radio in your car where others can hear it. Copying too many pages out of a book in the library. Downloading the TV episode my media centre screwed up the recording of. All these are copyright infringment with fines of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Laws should represent the morality and benefit of society. If they don't, we should campaign to change them. Copyright is now used completely contrary to its stated intent, that of increasing the amount and quality of works in the public domain. Mass disobedience of a law - including some people being sued or prosecuted under it - is often part of the process of getting that law changed.

For the record, I don't consider myself a freedom fighter (heh!). I just think if people realised how draconian copyright law is - and the more places like youtube are attacked, the more they will - a large number of people would disagree with it also. They already do through their casual infringement, they just don't realise it yet.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:02 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but why shouldn't I pay for what I want - songs, books or whatever?

who's stopping you?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:09 AM on July 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


I also, for the record, think there needs to be a mechanism to introduce the money of people wanting material to the people producing the material. I don't actually believe all things should be free.
I don't think copyright is the appropriate mechanism any more, and I would prefer a much much larger public domain people can draw from freely, and share freely, and build new works on freely that also get shared freely.

I do pay for content from indies - I buy very little from major labels and corps. Is voting with my wallet still allowed, or is that depriving deserving corporations of their money?

As long as people want content, there will be people willing to provide it. As long as people want it, they'll be prepared to pay for it in some fashion, even if that payment is just their appreciation and word of mouth. Some artists do exist who do it for the art, not the money. Some do it for the money, and there should be ways to pay them if they're any good that doesn't involve huge draconian systems that violate rights and invade privacy. Perhaps compulsory licencing is the answer, perhaps publically and privately funded sponsor agencies, perhaps different ways of funding different kinds of works. I don't know. All I know is, I'd like to have the conversation rather than just
'you're a thief. Shut up, you pirate. Stop stealing food right out of the hands of their children by even daring to talk about it'.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:18 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


If the replies in this thread prove anything, it's that

1) People on MeFi can be really pompous. But we'll ignore that for now.

2) It proves that the online universe is not a place for original content from which people hope to make money.

On a practical level computers are made to copy data. This is the fundamental thing they do, and they make it astonishingly trivial.

On an ethical level, people simply don't care about copyright. I'll be honest and say that, although I moan about people stealing my books above, I watch Family Guy episodes on YouTube, and I've downloaded my fair share of non-authorised MP3s. I respect copyright far more nowadays, being a victim of theft, but it's unreasonable to expect everybody to go through the tortuous procedure of writing a book to be "taught a lesson". (And, you know, writing a book or a song, or making a TV programme, is really fucking difficult. This is no joke. Each book is part of my soul and at least two years of my life. And you're getting it for nothing more than a few mouse clicks.)

So, in short, if you create content that you intend to sell, don't put it online. Simple as that. Cory Doctorow can do so if he wishes. That's his choice.

This rule might change should copyright laws change, and new revenue streams are generated. I'd have no problems making my books freely available if Rapidshare, which hosts the pirated PDFs, gave me a cut of the money they're getting from the six zillion ads they cram into the download page. But that's not happening right now.

At the moment the digital world of content is biased exclusively toward the service providers, rather than the content creators. At least with our current setup content creators get some money, even if service providers (publishers, film distributors, music companies etc) get most of it.
posted by humblepigeon at 1:38 AM on July 17, 2007


I'll be honest and say that, although I moan about people stealing my books above, I watch Family Guy episodes on YouTube, and I've downloaded my fair share of non-authorised MP3s.

oh, please ... just shut the hell up about it, then ... you got "paid" the minute you decided to download stuff too

i can't believe that anyone could be so stupid as to bitch about people downloading their books and accusing them of stealing and then make an admission that "oh, i've done it, too"

you've lost at the internet, sir ... step away from the keyboard, unplug your cable modem and burn the next bill you get from your isp
posted by pyramid termite at 1:47 AM on July 17, 2007


oh, please ... just shut the hell up about it, then ...

You're an angry little cookie, aren't you?
posted by humblepigeon at 3:22 AM on July 17, 2007


I respect copyright far more nowadays, being a victim of theft

I bet you respect antivirus software after you get colds, too.
posted by oaf at 4:33 AM on July 17, 2007


Another moron that did one thing in his life and asking money for it forever, bastard

Doctors should retain "copyright" over saving people's lifes, If I save your life, a part of your income belongs to me.

Did this asshole saved lives?
posted by zouhair at 5:29 AM on July 17, 2007


Doctors should retain "copyright" over saving people's lifes, If I save your life, a part of your income belongs to me.

No, because they're not creating something.

There's a definite gap in this discussion between those who create, and understand the work involved in doing so, and those who consume, and are ignorant to anything other than the quantity of money they have to hand over to buy things that have been created.

If I create something, and you want it, then you must pay me to have it. You have no right to get it for free. Why would you have a right to get it for free?
posted by humblepigeon at 5:41 AM on July 17, 2007


There's a definite gap in this discussion

Not really. You say that one has to have created something in order to understand where you're coming from. That simply isn't so.
posted by oaf at 5:56 AM on July 17, 2007


This discussion has really gone way of the rails, and one of the problems is that people are trying to debate things from an epistemological perspective without realizing it. Talking about copyright as if it were an intrinsic part of the world or society like gravity. It's not, it's something artificial, and something that is governed by laws. The DMCA is pretty clear, and youtube isn't breaking the law if they remove videos when the copyright owners ask them too. That's really the bottom line, you can bitch and moan about it all you want. And, if you think one random dude is going to take down a billion dollar company because they showed his video less then a thousand times you're smoking crack. The rich and powerful almost always win in court.

There has been widespread music piracy for quite some time, and record companies have suffered. But new music comes out all the time. If you don't feel like creating under the new system, then don't. You're not that special, and overwhelming sense of entitlement on display by some content creators is really grating. No one is really going to care if you stop creating.
posted by delmoi at 6:56 AM on July 17, 2007


You're an angry little cookie, aren't you?

as opposed to being a hypocritical crumb?

There's a definite gap in this discussion between those who create, and understand the work involved in doing so, and those who consume, and are ignorant

and sometimes they're contained in the one and the same person, like you?

If I create something, and you want it, then you must pay me to have it.

"i'm entitled to be paid for my creative work but when i want someone else's, i don't have to pay"

you're getting what you earned - deal with it
posted by pyramid termite at 7:09 AM on July 17, 2007


humblepigeon: actually, the difference is between those create for money, and those who don't. You seem to think that creation is some rare and precious act and automatically worthy of reward, related to the effort invested.

The world of GPL software (and creative commons films on youtube, and photos on flikr etc) shows there is a whole culture of sharing creative work frankly for the love of it. There's some of my work out there under both.

If I create something, and you want it, then you must pay me to have it. You have no right to get it for free. Why would you have a right to get it for free?
That's your choice as a creator. You decide to sell me a copy. you are now a publisher. You own the original physical copy, and I own my physical copy.

I now give a copy of my copy to my friend. You still have your copy. I still have my copy. He has a new copy. Nobody has lost anything, but somebody has gained something. You even still have the money you made for selling me a copy.

What right do you have to stop me?

I have a free speech right to share, you have the artificial right granted by government to temporarily be the only one to be allowed to make copies. Once your copyright expires, the work enters the public domain. During that temporary period, I'd be breaking the law; after that period, I wouldn't.

All you have lost, is the potential income you might have made by selling direct to my friend. My friend got it for free. He wasn't prepared to pay the amount you were charging, so you've lost nothing at all. He shows his copy to another friend, and they like it so much they come and buy a copy from you. File sharing has made you money.

Counter-intuitive? Yes. Studies have shown that file-sharers actually increase demand. Baen books is just one example of a business actually making that work for them; moocsound is one example for music.

I understand where you're coming from. I really do. You worked hard, you put your soul, sweat and tears into it and now someone is taking it away from you. For free. You put all that work in, and some little toerag is enjoying it without paying you a penny. Its your life, for gods sake. But copyright doesn't guarantee you a reward. Copyright is a temporary incentive for you to create more work specifically for it be shared free and enjoyed by all. An artificial incentive to improve the material available for toerags to share freely. A deal between society and creators, if you like - you share this with us, and we'll let you dictate who gets to buy it for a little while. Some of us think that deal is broken, that the public domain goal is being lost. Copyright is not a property right, you do not own the work you created in the classic sense - you only own the various rights such as being known as the author of it, and the temporary right of exclusive distribution.

Its all moot, anyway. The internet genie is out of the bottle regardless of how people feel, the floodgates are open and anything produced that can be copied and shared will be.
There will continue to be legal casualties of course, as the current laws are completely at odds with what people want and how they want it. If anything, you should be working just as hard to replace or reform copyright to something workable, rather than trying to order back the tide - you've got far more to lose by going down the old path than I do.
posted by ArkhanJG at 7:12 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a definite gap in this discussion between those who create, and understand the work involved in doing so, and those who consume, and are ignorant to anything other than the quantity of money they have to hand over to buy things that have been created.

Well, that's really not true. I've made something like 12,000 posts on this site, enough to fill several books, and I've done it all for free, and so along with all the other poster's I've contributed to a website people really enjoy reading. All of this for free. I've also written a few chapters of a book that I put online for free, alas, I didn't finish the book because even if it were to be published, it would not make enough money to be worth my time -- I don't think the advance rate for books has changed much in the past few years. Something like $5k on average.

The gap here is between you, who seems to think the world at large and everyone in it should bend over backwards for you because you "create" things. You want to see youtube shutdown and google "punched in the mouth". I know youtube and google have brought more utility and enjoyment to my life then any blowhard, self-important author.

If I create something, and you want it, then you must pay me to have it. You have no right to get it for free. Why would you have a right to get it for free?

Why "must" we pay? There is the law, which says certain things. It says you can police your copyright if you want to, but what youtube is doing is completly legal. Copyright is not an intrinsic moral right and creating things does not entitle you to dictate how everyone else lives and serve as a gatekeeper to prevent people from communicating with each other. I mean in your world a site like metafilter couldn't even exist because matt would be legally required to check every comment before allowing it to be posted. Fuck that. There is no difference between a metafilter comment thread and a book piracy blog, but you want prior restraint.

And anyway, the point is, doctors really are more important for society then "creators" paid content is not the most important thing in the world, there are other goods, and sites like metafilter, youtube, and google are simply more important then enforcing copyright.
posted by delmoi at 7:16 AM on July 17, 2007


youtube isn't breaking the law if they remove videos when the copyright owners ask them too
delmoi, do you care to give a reason why you think YouTube shouldn't be concerned about section 512(c)(1)(B), in view of the fact that it could easily police keywords?
posted by exogenous at 7:28 AM on July 17, 2007


The DMCA is pretty clear, and youtube isn't breaking the law if they remove videos when the copyright owners ask them too.

Um, yes they are. From the second somebody uploads illegal material, to the time YouTube admins take it down, copyright material is being used without permission of the originator and/or rights holder. That's illegal.

Your argument is that YouTube aren't contravening a particular part of the DCMA.
posted by humblepigeon at 7:46 AM on July 17, 2007


I've made something like 12,000 posts on this site, enough to fill several books, and I've done it all for free,

We have to separate wilful creation of material that's intended for sale, and the creation of material that's not intended for sale.

Take the taxi driver example I gave in a previous posting.

A taxi driver takes me to a school. I pay him the fare.

A taxi driver takes his own daughter to school. He doesn't charge her.

It's up to him who he charges for his services. According to your logic, he either charges everybody, or he charges nobody.
posted by humblepigeon at 7:52 AM on July 17, 2007


I'm not going to pretend that he's the be all and end all of copyright debate, or anything, but Cory Docotorow is a creative individual who gives his shit away free all the time. You can disagree with him, of course, but it's evidence that the gap in understanding here isn't between people who create and those who don't.
posted by shmegegge at 8:10 AM on July 17, 2007


There is no difference between a metafilter comment thread and a book piracy blog, but you want prior restraint.

What the fuck are you talking about? One is a product of mass self-wankery and amateur opinion who's publication is explicitly allowed when the author pushes the "Post" button. The other is a third party posting copyrighted material with no permission from the original author for the purpose of piracy (aka "educational use").

What, they're the same cause they're both words on a screen and could potentially both be copyright violations? Bullshit. One exists solely to pirate copyrighted material.

Why "must" we pay? There is the law, which says certain things. It says you can police your copyright if you want to, but what youtube is doing is completly legal.

You must pay because as the creator of the work, I dictate the terms under which you can use my work. I may opt to give it away for free, but it's my option. What YouTube is doing is not certainly legal, and the courts will soon decide what's what.

Well, that's really not true. I've made something like 12,000 posts on this site, enough to fill several books, and I've done it all for free, and so along with all the other poster's I've contributed to a website people really enjoy reading.

You give it away for free because no one would be willing to pay for it. Maybe if someone was, you'd have a different opinion. Your blog comments don't measure up to the same standard as a commercially released book.

I'm not going to pretend that he's the be all and end all of copyright debate, or anything, but Cory Docotorow is a creative individual who gives his shit away free all the time.

Or a techno-fetishist poseur who's riding his cult-of-personality, anti-DRM train as far as it will bring him You know, I could like Cory a lot more if every time I read his blog he wasn't acting like an immature asshole towards anyone he disagrees with. Anyone who takes the position of "Well, I don't think getting rid of DRM entirely is going to work" or "Maybe Creative Commons' isn't the best solution" is immediately branded a moron or underwear pervert or something and wants to have Sony's rootkit babies blah blah blah blah blah..

It's like Richard Stallman and free software - All software should be free, and if you don't agree you're a fucking heretic and should be burned.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:29 AM on July 17, 2007


exogenous: personally, I wouldn't assume keyword policing is either effective or easy - any more than porn blacklists are effective or easy.

512(c)(1)(B) is about money, not policing.

...A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief ... for infringement of copyright by reason of the storage at the direction of a user of material that resides on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, if the service provider ...

(B) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity...

Does google receive a financial benefit (from advertising) directly attributable to the infringing activity? That question is why google bought youtube. If you can shut down youtube because of 512(c)(1)(B), then you can shut down every internet service that hosts or transports user content for money or advertising. Metafilter. Every google service. Every webmail service. Every ISP. You can literally turn off the internet in the US if making money from providing a service that can be used for copyright infringement means you cannot take advantage of the safe harbour in the DMCA.

No doubt some copyright holders would like that. Until the judge rules, and all the appeals are completed, we're simply guessing.
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:31 AM on July 17, 2007


What the fuck are you talking about? One is a product of mass self-wankery and amateur opinion who's publication is explicitly allowed when the author pushes the "Post" button. The other is a third party posting copyrighted material with no permission from the original author for the purpose of piracy

I think you missed his point.

current situation:
User A posts to website M content C.

Copyright holder T contacts website M's DMCA contact, complains C is his copyrighted work, M removes C.

Bob Tur's prefered situation:
User A posts to website M content C.
Website M checks the content by some method to ensure that A owns C. M has to somehow know who really owns C, and whether A is lying when he says he has the rights to post C. Website M has to vet every single user posting, and make sure it passes this 'ownership test'.

Website M is either youtube or Metafilter. Metafilter would have to check every single comment for infringing material before allowing it to be posted, just as youtube would have to watch every video before allowing it to be posted.

This is not required by law, nor is it reasonable.
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:46 AM on July 17, 2007


ArkhanJG, good points, but the statutes also says "in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity." At least according to the complaint in the class action, YouTube is in fact doing this policing for their "partners," but not for anyone else.
posted by exogenous at 9:03 AM on July 17, 2007


because it's not possible to do it for everyone else. the volume is too high.
posted by shmegegge at 9:16 AM on July 17, 2007


exogenous: it will be interesting to see what the purported policing consists of. Off the cuff there is an 'ability' argument afoot, though: when, say, NBC partners with youtube then youtube knows with probability approaching 1 that content uploaded by NBC is content NBC has right of control over, and consequently when that content is uploaded by third parties, etc., youtube can easily tell that it is not being uploaded by the proper party; the cost-to-confirm ownership is low.

In the case of someone firing off an angry letter or email, the cost-to-confirm ownership is high (because there is no efficient way to determine the rightsholder, like a centralized database or clearinghouse), and so the "ability" is there in name only (and it seems like all the trivial automated reupload preventions are sufficiently gameable to be worthless -- it's probably better all around to not screen on keywords, etc., so that infringing material remains easy to find, rather than hiding behind rut es45).

In any case I wouldn't be surprised if all the 'willingness to police for partners' consists of is just prompter response to complaint messages from the partners' authorized accounts. Should be interesting to see them describe their system.
posted by little miss manners at 9:20 AM on July 17, 2007


Exogenous - fair point; i interpreted that as the technical ability to take it down once notified, i.e. physically remove the user post from their servers, which obviously they do in this case - but wouldn't in say, a case where an encrypted storage service is provided, but the provider doesn't have the password, only the user, or some such.

I see you could argue it to mean ability to control the activity in total, i.e. practical proactive policing by means of some kind of manually guided fingerprinting service instead. Ironically though, such a form of policing would seem to make them more vulnerable to 512(c)(1)(A)(ii)&(iii) in those cases where the material is missed; they'd be 'aware' of it, but not removed it. That's what got napster in the end, ironically.

There are some days I'm really really glad I'm not a lawyer.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:43 AM on July 17, 2007


The "rut se45" is pretty unclear. I meant that if, say, youtube starts having 'flagged' keywords, it seems likely that users will start making up new keywords, etc., for sharing material, or just be completely unhelpful ("dad feeding baby" for a new music video, etc.). Net effect will be that infringing material is harder to find, making rightsholders' job (or youtube's job if it gets to that) all the more difficult.

It's the sort of easily-circumventable half-measure that people tend to wind up ruing.
posted by little miss manners at 9:50 AM on July 17, 2007


Um, yes they are. From the second somebody uploads illegal material, to the time YouTube admins take it down, copyright material is being used without permission of the originator and/or rights holder. That's illegal.

The question isn't whether or not it's illegal, clearly it is. The question is who's responsible for it and the answer is not youtube. It's the person who posts the stuff online who is responsible for the copyright violation, not the hosting provider unless they fail to take down the video 48 hours after notification.

We have to separate wilful creation of material that's intended for sale, and the creation of material that's not intended for sale. -- humblepigeon

Obviously they're different, the point I was trying to make was, if people stopped being remunerated for their creative work, creative work would still happen. It wouldn't go away. You're saying you think we should impose prior restraint on communication to check for copyright violations. That, obviously, would be then of you tube, the end of metafilter, google, blogging, and so on. Now if I had to chose between that, on the one hand, and the end of commercial art on the other, I would give up commercial art, because there will be plenty of free art available. Maybe it will be a lot more wanky, or crappy, or whatever. But it will do, and I think it would be much better then the locked down world you'd seem to want to live in. Right now, we have a balance between the two things that works well.

What, they're the same cause they're both words on a screen and could potentially both be copyright violations? Bullshit. One exists solely to pirate copyrighted material. -- SweetJesus

Well right, but we're talking about blogs hosted on free blogging software. humblepigeon. If someone posted a bunch of piracy links on MeFi, they could be banned. If someone posted a bunch of links on blogspot, that blog might be deleted if someone sent a DMCA request. But the point is, requiring service providers to vet all comments or posts or submissions for copyright violations before they go up would make metafilter an impossibility, or at least it would have made it impossible for matt to start by himself in his spare time. It would make the creation of free blogging software impossible, it would make youtube impossible, etc. The single greatest cost would be scanning for copyright violation. That's the point. Requring that everything be pre-approved is logistically impossible. It's up to the copyright holder to search for violations, and send out violation notifications. That's the law, and it's totally reasonable.

You give it away for free because no one would be willing to pay for it. Maybe if someone was, you'd have a different opinion. Your blog comments don't measure up to the same standard as a commercially released book.

I didn't say they did, I just said they were out there and there would still be plenty of stuff to read, plenty of music to listen too and maybe even a few movies out there if copyright went away. It wouldn't be the end of the world, although it would probably be boring for a lot of people.

It's like Richard Stallman and free software - All software should be free, and if you don't agree you're a fucking heretic and should be burned.

That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm just saying that I would rather have no paid software then no free software, if I had to make a choice.
posted by delmoi at 2:08 PM on July 17, 2007


As always, I'm a little late to the party. I have a few viewpoints on this subject that may fit somewhere together on a venn diagram, but aren't totally aligned with one another.

1. As an artist, a person who makes unnecessary things of beauty and would like to make a living doing so, I understand that people would like to make money off of their creations. However, I think that their ideas about worth are totally screwed. People tend to think that because they are charging a certain amount for something, that is what it is worth. This Tur fellow thinks that because he put himself at risk to make this tape and has children to feed, that the tape is worth a certain amount. I think that he is wrong.

This tape is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and it is worth more to some than to others. To a news agency, it may be worth the price they're used to paying for similar video, or it may be worth the price he's asking. Of course that price may be different than he's willing to charge or receive from, say, Faces of Death Part 20, or that terrible video show where the wacky voiced guy makes jokes about tragedy. To someone like me, who is just curious, and also poor, I would pay what I would pay to read/hear/see/watch a book/song/album/video from the library: Nothing. His tape, like many other books, videos, songs, and albums, is worth nothing to me, eve though I would like to see them.

2. I really don't understand why downloading .pdfs, .jpegs, .mpegs, and audio files or watching embedded video is tantamount to theft, where borrowing a movie, book, song, album, et cetera from the library would not. When I get something from the library, I get the exact consumer copy that I have the ability to copy to my heart's content. Whenever I download or watch one of the types of files I've listed above, there is almost always a drop-off in quality. The only difference between the internet and the library (for me) is that I've already got the internet at home/

3. As I said, I'm poor. Im pinching pennies all the time, and living as humbly as I can. I don't buy that many thjings, but I'm willing to pay for experiences. Concerts, plays, readings. Still, I can't really pay more than ten bucks so I find ways around it. I work as a volunteer usher or doorman one night, and I find a fire escape to sneak into the next.

I don't think that I should be deprived of art and information because I can't afford it. As an artist, my main priority is getting my art out to where people can see it (and feel it and judge it and maybe talk about it). I would rather someone download something that they wanted to see, but didn't want to pay for, than deny them that opportunity. I don't feel like someone's downloaded copy is stolen, because it really doesn't hurt my inventory a bit. I have to do the work of promoting myself in a way where the next person who might want to see it would be willing to pay for it.
posted by elr at 2:21 PM on July 17, 2007


That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm just saying that I would rather have no paid software then no free software, if I had to make a choice.

I wasn't saying you were. I said the philosophy espoused by Doctorow about copyright is almost the same as Stallworth's philosophy on Free Software - both I agree with in principal, but disagree with in implementation, and both are primarily driven by the ego of their evangelists with little room for change or improvement..

2. I really don't understand why downloading .pdfs, .jpegs, .mpegs, and audio files or watching embedded video is tantamount to theft, where borrowing a movie, book, song, album, et cetera from the library would not.

The library exchanges some sort of payment to the publisher or the work to allow them to lend it to you, where as "the internet" does not. Since you pay taxes and your taxes fund the library, you are paying for the book,song album etc when you take it from the library. When you download a movie and you don't pay for it, you're stealing even if it's merely a moral footnote.

I don't think that I should be deprived of art and information because I can't afford it.

Well, that's an ethical decision, and you're free to make it, but and the end of the day it's still theft. I've stolen things from the internet when I didn't have any money, but I never attempted to rationalize it by blaming the unfairness of copyright laws for it.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:00 PM on July 17, 2007


SweetJesus writes "I said the philosophy espoused by Doctorow about copyright is almost the same as Stallworth's philosophy on Free Software - both I agree with in principal, but disagree with in implementation, and both are primarily driven by the ego of their evangelists with little room for change or improvement.."

Who is Stallworth? Do you mean Stallman? Yeah, you know it's possible to have a conversation about copyright without even discussing such people.

"Well, that's an ethical decision, and you're free to make it, but and the end of the day it's still theft."

The law doesn't agree. It's not larceny. It's not burglary. It's not extortion. It's not embezzlement. It's copyright infringement, a civil matter, not criminal. You can call it what you like.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:07 PM on July 17, 2007


Who is Stallworth? Do you mean Stallman? Yeah, you know it's possible to have a conversation about copyright without even discussing such people.

Doh, I'm not sure why I made that error. Yes, I mean Stallman. For why I brought him up, read my two previous posts to that one.

The law doesn't agree. It's not larceny. It's not burglary. It's not extortion. It's not embezzlement. It's copyright infringement, a civil matter, not criminal. You can call it what you like.

In the ethical sense, it's theft. Moralize it however you want. I wasn't talking about the law. The law is immeterial to the larger issue - the overwhelming majority of people who do it will never be caught, so what does the law matter?
posted by SweetJesus at 6:26 PM on July 17, 2007


In the ethical sense, it's theft.

In the ethical sense, there's a lot in business — creative and otherwise — that is far, far worse than copyright infringement. Just how many artists are treated like crap by the big "content providers" is a much greater crime. To me, that's the most disgusting thing about the whole fake hue and cry over "copyright infringement is theft."
posted by graymouser at 6:41 PM on July 17, 2007


Aaaaand just to drive the point home here is a link to a pirated book right here on metafilter (it links to a supposed rip of the new, pre-release harry potter). Matt never could have created this site if he had to read every comment and vet it for IP before allowing up '99. Maybe today there would be enough volunteers to keep the site going, but it would vastly increase the cost.
posted by delmoi at 6:50 PM on July 17, 2007


The library exchanges some sort of payment to the publisher or the work to allow them to lend it to you.

That's not true at all, libraries pay nothing to publishers beyond the purchase price of the book. And nothing at all if they buy the book used. Publishers are not happy about this at all.
posted by delmoi at 6:55 PM on July 17, 2007


That's not true at all, libraries pay nothing to publishers beyond the purchase price of the book.

That's some sort of payment.
posted by SweetJesus at 7:34 PM on July 17, 2007


In the ethical sense, there's a lot in business — creative and otherwise — that is far, far worse than copyright infringement.

Two wrongs make a right now?
posted by SweetJesus at 7:34 PM on July 17, 2007


Bob Turd.
posted by chance at 8:54 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's some sort of payment.

Thanks captan selective quoting. I wrote: That's not true at all, libraries pay nothing to publishers beyond the purchase price of the book. And nothing at all if they buy the book used. libraries pay for the physical object the same way a customer would. Your comment implied that they paid extra for the right to lend it out, which is not true.
posted by delmoi at 10:40 PM on July 17, 2007


Thanks captan selective quoting. I wrote: That's not true at all, libraries pay nothing to publishers beyond the purchase price of the book. And nothing at all if they buy the book used. libraries pay for the physical object the same way a customer would. Your comment implied that they paid extra for the right to lend it out, which is not true.

Whatever you inferred is on you, but what I said was the library exchanges some sort of payment to the publisher or author in exchange for the right to lend it to you. Now, whatever intricacies are involved within the system of laws that entitle the library to lend you the book are superfluous to this discussion. I think we can say as a general rule, libraries are paying the publishers one way or another.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:54 PM on July 17, 2007


Now I think about it, delmoi makes an excellent analogy.

Purchaser A buys book. Copyright holder H gets paid 1 book. Purchaser A sells book to buyer B - doctrine of first sale means holder S gets nothing extra. Buyer B goes on to share the book with lots of people. Holder H still gets nothing extra.

Sum total, Holder H - gained price of 1 book. Sharer B, spent price of 1 used book. Original buyer A made small loss. Lots of people got to read the book completely free.

If Sharer B is a library, its legal. If sharer B is a blogger poster, it's not. We can even cut out middleman A, and it's the same story. Morally, how are they different? The P2P sharer still bought a copy to start with; they just share it with more people than a library, generally.

But is a big city library more of a thief then, morally speaking, than a P2P user that only shares with his close friends? Seriously, I'm not just trying to make a point. I really am struggling to see a moral difference.

* I don't know about the US, but strictly speaking in the UK, books for lending have to be bought at a higher price, same as tapes or DVDs. But it's still only one payment that's then used to share between lots of people.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:47 AM on July 18, 2007


Two wrongs make a right now?

No, I was pointing out that the whole "copyright infringement is theft" line is a load of disingenuous BS, and that the people who spout it are not really interested in ethics, but instead use ethics as a smokescreen to protect the rights of large corporations to destroy any notion of a shared culture or public domain and make a shitload of money while doing so. Copyright pirates are saints compared to the people who run the entertainment industry.
posted by graymouser at 3:42 AM on July 18, 2007


ArkhanJG: Well the "moral" difference is that the library isn't making copies. Copyright controls making copies not who can make use or enjoy something. Anyway, copyright isn't a moral thing, it's a practicality thing. If it becomes impractical or burdensome then the argument for it really just dissipates.
posted by delmoi at 6:00 AM on July 18, 2007


the people who spout it are not really interested in ethics, but instead use ethics as a smokescreen to protect the rights of large corporations

Dammit. My secret plans have been uncovered. Well, fuck it, I guess I'll just destroy the earth with my laser beam.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:50 AM on July 18, 2007


No, I was pointing out that the whole "copyright infringement is theft" line is a load of disingenuous BS, and that the people who spout it are not really interested in ethics, but instead use ethics as a smokescreen to protect the rights of large corporations to destroy any notion of a shared culture or public domain and make a shitload of money while doing so. Copyright pirates are saints compared to the people who run the entertainment industry.

As I said above, I've stolen things from the internet. I'm just not sanctimonious and naive enough to think it's a courageous act. I know exactly what I'm doing.

Well the "moral" difference is that the library isn't making copies. Copyright controls making copies not who can make use or enjoy something. Anyway, copyright isn't a moral thing, it's a practicality thing. If it becomes impractical or burdensome then the argument for it really just dissipates..

It's not a moral thing, it's an ethical thing. You're taking something that you know you would normally pay for in our society, and disregarding both the letter and the spirit of the law when you don't pay for it. Your ethics may vary.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:57 AM on July 18, 2007


But is a big city library more of a thief then, morally speaking, than a P2P user that only shares with his close friends? Seriously, I'm not just trying to make a point. I really am struggling to see a moral difference.

Really, your close friends? I know how BitTorrent works, and I'm pretty confident you're not close friends with most of the people seeding your files, or sitting in your distributed hash table

Also, there is an expectation that one day you'll return the book to the library as another may use it. The physical book has a one to one relationship with it's user, while a torrent has a one to many relationship with it's downloaders.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:01 AM on July 18, 2007


« Older Check Out My Awesome Moves.   |   Urban Coyotes Attack! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post