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Corporate Claims On Public Domain YouTube Videos

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the arrr-me-hearties dept.

Media 320

esocid writes "Cory Doctorow has written a Guardian column, 'The pirates of YouTube,' about how multinational copyright-holding companies have laid false claim to public domain videos on YouTube. The videos are posted by the nonprofit FedFlix organization, which liberates public domain government-produced videos and makes them available to the world. These videos were produced at public expense and no one can claim to own them, but multinationals from CBS to Discovery Communications have done just that, getting YouTube to place ads on the video that deliver income to their coffers. What's more, their false copyright claims could lead to the suspension of FedFlix's YouTube account under Google's rules for its copyright policing system. This system, ContentID, sets out penalties for 'repeat offenders' who generate too many copyright claims — but offers no corresponding penalties for rightsholders who make too many false claims of ownership."

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API, NOW! (4, Funny)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38346980)

Give me an rightholder-claiming API, I'm doing a study in greed and subjective inflation of bank accounts.

Been a problem for a long while (5, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347018)

Youtube has no standards AT ALL for this kind of stuff... it's why you can't use them to seriously host anything. But then again, it's a free service... so...

Re:Been a problem for a long while (4, Insightful)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347090)

I disagree they have *no* standards. It's apparent that Google wants to make money off content providers and is kissing their giant smelly ass. I think if there is any standard, it's to kiss up to the movie studios, the record labels, and any other big content organization so they can get their itunes/amazon prime equivalent up and running.

Re:Been a problem for a long while (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347260)

Yea, how dare Google cater more towards the people who pay them actual money than the people who use their service for free. I mean, I gave them my zero dollars and all they gave me in return was something close to but not exactly what I want. I hope those bastards rot in hell goddamnit.

Re:Been a problem for a long while (5, Interesting)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347356)

How dare people demand ethical behavior from Google in a capitalist economy! The horror!

Re:Been a problem for a long while (4, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347630)

What part of "free service", "no SLAs", "no guarantees", "use at your own risk", ad naseum do you not understand?

Re:Been a problem for a long while (5, Insightful)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347794)

What part of "offering a free service doesn't grant you the right to be unethical" do you not understand?

Re:Been a problem for a long while (5, Insightful)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347850)

There is also an implied, "do the right thing" clause that, when violated, can get a real nasty backlash. Its human nature, not contract law, get used to it.

Re:Been a problem for a long while (5, Insightful)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347648)

You are defending a company for stiffing their entire userbase in exchange for cash from a third party.
It's a dick move for ANY business to make regardless of whether it is profitable or not.

Re:Been a problem for a long while (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347702)

They're stiffing their entire userbase? Hyperbole isn't really the best way to make your argument. It is, however, a good way to make sure no one actually reads what you have to say. In any event, when a corporation (or a person or a small business) has to decide between their users and their customers, the people who pay the bills are going to win 9 times out of 10. That's just reality, regardless of how "dick" you may think it is.

Re:Been a problem for a long while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347944)

Look, when Google starts to lose money (or in the extreme case, employees) because it is being "unethical", that's when things will change. "Stiffing their entire userbase" will lose them money, but the stuff mentioned here is not going to "stiff their entire userbase".

Re:Been a problem for a long while (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347398)

Youtube has no standards AT ALL for this kind of stuff... it's why you can't use them to seriously host anything. But then again, it's a free service... so...

They have standards... filing a takedown notice results in a takedown. Filing a false takedown notice theoretically carries the penalty of perjury (theoretically because in spite of plenty of instances of false takedown notices, it's never been enforced). You may file a counterclaim to put it back up.

These are the standards put forth in the DMCA, and the ones which they follow.

Re:Been a problem for a long while (5, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347666)

This sounds like it needs to be counter exploited, and hard.

The only way to establish precident for enforcement of false copyright claims, is to have a phyrric entity serving in the public's interest do exactly what big content is doing, but directed at big content.

An example might be to create a software program that outputs every possible combination of notes permissible under the rules of standard musical notation, then file copyright on it. Using this copyrighted "song", file DMCA takedown notices of every single big media production featuring a musical score, claiming that they are profiting illegally from a partial inclusion of your copyrighted "song".

Keep spamming the shit out of eg, the CBS and pal's youtube offerings with dmca notices, exploit the one-sidedness of the reporting system in the same way they exploit it against far use and public domain assets, and keep after it in earnest.

After a few weeks of that, the big media giants will sue. When they do, they will use their lawyers to win, and in so doing, establish a poisonous precedent against this practice.

The only way to get the assfucks to work for you is to socially engineer them into painting themselves into a corner.

I suggest that we (ordinary people) endeavor to do exactly that.

Re:Been a problem for a long while (4, Insightful)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347772)

Sounds good. Get on it. Oh wait, you meant someone else do it, didn't you?

Re:Been a problem for a long while (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347830)

All we need is an organization to operate under.

This would shield individuals from the litigation the same way that corporations shield board members.

I would happily become "employed" by such a "company."

What I lack is the knowledge of proper process to create such a sacrificial company.

Re:Been a problem for a long while (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347818)

Anyone here ever considered laying claims to random videos?
1. Claim 10,000 random videos
2. Collect ad revenue
3. ???
4. Profit!!

No Public Domain (5, Interesting)

Catiline (186878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347024)

Is this is the end stage for the ownership of ideas: that just as there is no longer "public land" in the sense that every piece of land has an owner (even if it is the government), every idea will need an owner?

Re:No Public Domain (5, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347780)

I believe New York ruled a few years back that there was no such thing as "public ownership" and that "public domain" does not exist, so there has been a steady deterioration of public rights for some time.

When I retire, my plan is to buy some woodland (if there's any still left) and put up notices "trespassers will be served tea and cookies". The total lack of discussion on the idea of Common Land, the total lack of awareness in many places that such a thing could, or ever has, existed -- these things horrify me. Private property has a place and a time, and that's good, but it shouldn't be the ONLY place and time you're ever allowed to have, whether it be land, ideas, whatever. The exclusive existence of private ownership is a monoculture and we know that in EVERY field of endeavor that monocultures are toxic. We NEED discussion and awareness, even if the conclusions from that are that public ownership has no place. If we don't discuss it and it simply bleeds away, as it is doing, we won't have a choice in the matter and we won't have an opportunity to seriously examine if it is the appropriate mechanism for avoiding the lethality of monocultures.

At the present time, there is a prevailing belief that ownership is everything - that what isn't owned doesn't exist, that if it exists, it's owned. I have seen no studies, no analysis, no proofs that this is either necessary or even useful. Without a methodical approach to the issue, what you have is not modernization but religion. It is merely an article of faith, until the actual legwork is done to establish if the belief has credibility or not. We should not be running a 21st century (AD) country on articles of faith. 21st century BC, it might be more excusable. If the stone-age tribes of Papau New Guinnea or the Amazon wish to run their societies by articles of faith, well, that seems fine to me. It suits the culture and technology they're using, so it's appropriate to do that. I like balanced societies where all aspects are working at the same level. By the same logic, a modern, high-tech, scientific culture, to be balanced, has no business picking the rules of society from political theology. Regressing science is stupid, so advance the culture.

This just in: DMCA is unfair and ContentID sucks (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347040)

Counter-notices are an invitation to sue and ContentID suffers from a horrendous number of false-positives. Good luck fighting a GEMA claim by the way (they claim everything, even if the artist in question isn't a member).

Re:This just in: DMCA is unfair and ContentID suck (5, Informative)

Noah69 (1083017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347164)

Seriously, fuck GEMA.
Their practices are harmful to themselves, the artists they claim to represent and the users. While other, similar organizations may have been late to the whole internet thing and still don't get it GEMA acts like it doesn't even exist as a media platform or something.
Again, fuck GEMA.

Wait a minute... (5, Funny)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347066)

but offers no corresponding penalties for rightsholders who make too many false claims of ownership

That's just like our legal system then!

Re:Wait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347212)

I thought that DMCA Takedown notices were under penalty of perjury.... Quick google tells me COUNTERNOTICES are under penalty of perjury, not takedown notices :-\

Re:Wait a minute... (5, Interesting)

almitydave (2452422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347512)

Lately, every video I upload to YouTube (of myself playing classical music e.g. Bach) gets flagged by content ID, supposedly matching content owned by some "Music Publishing Rights Collecting Society". If you Google it, it seems to be an umbrella term from YouTube saying your content matched something that someone, somewhere in the world, said they own the rights to. I believe the system is fully automatic, using sophisticated "finger-print" matching to identify infringing works. My theory is that their matching system has to be coarse enough to catch transcoded video & audio, and this coarseness allows original performances such as mine to "match" copyrighted recordings. I guess that's a compliment.

This isn't exactly DMCA abuse - in that I don't think anyone views the content and files a claim. It seems to be automatic. I always just check the box that says Content ID has misidentified the work - which it has since my own recording is not copyrighted by anyone else, obviously. But still, it's a nuisance because every time I upload I have to wait a day or two for content ID to do its thing, and then respond so it won't show ads. This and the fact that they down-sampled all my older recordings to crappy quality has left me very unsatisfied with the service lately.

I want my money back! ;)

Re:Wait a minute... (4, Informative)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347806)

It actually is abuse. The law's explicit. You HAVE to have rights to the content claimed to make a filing or commit an act of Perjury. "Fingerprint" analysis is insufficient in most cases to pin down the requirement- your instance is proof enough of that. Doesn't matter if you can challenge it or not- it's about the fact that you're having to do it in the first place .

Re:Wait a minute... (2)

EvanED (569694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347952)

You HAVE to have rights to the content claimed to make a filing or commit an act of Perjury.

First, it's only abuse if ContentID were filing actual DMCA notices, which it isn't. That's Google's own system, and it's independent. It was put into place to appease the MPAA and RIAA a bit.

Secondly, it's not an either or. The law DMCA specifically makes misrepresentation an offense only if it is done knowingly. In particular, recklessly isn't sufficient, so there'd probably be a pretty high bar if you were to actually try to argue that perjury count in court if the notices are generated by an automatic system.

Sounds like fraud and abuse of power to me (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347932)

If the default behaviour is to claim infringement over every non-infringing work you've published to YouTube, then I'd have to say the detection system is fraudulently broken and arbitrarily taking the side of big media.

A police officer who wrote jaywalking tickets to everyone on the street, assuming that they must have crossed from the other side illegally, would rapidly be subject to lawsuits from an outraged public and stripped of their badge. It sounds like YouTube's software does just that.

The fact that you can defend yourself against that abusive bastard's harassment in the court of the system interface does not excuse them from failing to properly train their "software officer" on the disadvantages of harassing people for not breaking the law.

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347236)

Actually, there are penalties for people who make frivolous legal claims: If the claim is really really frivolous, the judge can award attorney's fees. So, if, for instance, Viacom sued FedFlix (or Google, for that matter) over stuff that was plainly public domain, after FedFlix won, Viacom might be responsible for paying FedFlix's legal bills.

Re:Wait a minute... (4, Insightful)

Marc Madness (2205586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347468)

Something tells me that Viacom has enough money to prolong any legal battle until such a time when FedFlix is no longer solvent and has to give up the fight regardless of whether they are right or wrong.

Re:Wait a minute... (4, Informative)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347662)

If its truly frivilous, the judge can decide that hes had enough of the shenanigans, award attorney fees (which in a drawn out fight can be quite high), throw in contempt of court damages, etc. It can also open the door for countersuing for "SLAPP" tactics, and a lawyer who does this too much can be disbarred.

Our system allows a lot of crap through, but you really dont want to piss the judges off with trivial crap no matter who you are, because they can hit back very hard.

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347836)

In light of the shenanigans that've gone on with the John/Jane Does lawsuits from RIAA and the bullsh*t that was SCOX vs. IBM, you may find it taking a LONG time, if at all, for the Judges to say enough's enough on the bogus crap. By then, you'll be broken upon the wheel- crushed financially and legally.

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347552)

So if they're only issuing take down notices but not suing there are no penalties?

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347810)

This presumes you'll have the resources to litigate the case. It can take millions to do that. Most won't have those deep pockets.

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347376)

Not if you are in Europe :)

thomas jefferson (5, Insightful)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347076)

when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

Re:thomas jefferson (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347344)

[citation needed] googling around, some cite the Federalist Papers, which have uncertain authorship. Some say Jefferson had no hand in the Federalist papers at all. A searchable e-text of the papers did not yield this quote. Another sources claims it originates during the time of the Civil War, as a justification for secession. That's probably not the company you want to keep.

I'm tired of tracking it down for now, since 83% of Jefferson quotes are made up on the spot.

Re:thomas jefferson (0)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347414)

your ignorant inability to disprove me is very telling. you're an idiot.

cower in my shadow some more, feeb.

you're completely pathetic.

Re:thomas jefferson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347844)

It's not up to him to disprove your claim. It's up to you to prove it. You bear the burden of proof.

And no, my "mum's face" does not bear the burden of proof. And yes, that is what you were going to say.

Re:thomas jefferson (1)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347922)

ur mum's face bear the burden of bear.

i already stated my case which hasn't been disproven. you're an ignorant hypocrite.

but then again... thomas jefferson always said, "ignorance is preferable to error"... but you probably don't believe that either.

cower in my shadow some more, feeb.

you're completely pathetic.

Re:thomas jefferson (5, Funny)

Miseph (979059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347460)

"83% of Jefferson quotes are made up on the spot"

"Never trust a man who cites statistics, especially when he's talking about me." - Thomas Jefferson

Re:thomas jefferson (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347684)

"Never trust a man who cites statistics, especially when he's talking about me." - Thomas Jefferson

"Dont listen to parent, hes only a naysayer." - Ben Franklin

Re:thomas jefferson (1, Redundant)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347792)

73% of all internet quotes are false - Abraham Lincoln

Re:thomas jefferson (0)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347530)

Ignorance is preferable to error

perhaps you would more easily subscribe to that jefferson quote... again, i wasn't there to hear him say it personally, but there are hundreds of thousands of sources that attribute the quote to him on your precious "googling" device.

just to make it more clear and to help future generations with their "googling"... i'm calling you ignorant.

you are ignorant.

--michael kristopeit

Re:thomas jefferson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347762)

It's a good thing that he had slaves to prevent injustice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson_and_slavery)

Re:thomas jefferson (0)

MichaelKristopeit400 (1972448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347846)

is it a good thing that his slaves dutifully resisted and overturned the injustices brought upon them?

you're an ignorant hypocrite.

why do you cower in my shadow? what are you afraid of?

you're completely pathetic.

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347150)

This is fucked up.

Public domain music too. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347158)

I just spent a few hours making a video and set it to public domain music. A day later, Youtube blocked it in Germany and said it might put ads on it. The appeals process went straight to the company claiming ownership of the music and was unsurprisingly rejected with no other course of action.

Re:Public domain music too. (3, Insightful)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347558)

Did you perform the music? If you're using someone else's performance of a PD piece I would assume they retain ownership of that performance.

Re:Public domain music too. (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347950)

yes, recordings of a non-copyright song can themselves be copyrighted. perhaps that is the AC's issue.

Time for YouTube/FedFlix to make money (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347176)

Seriously, these two should sue the pants off of these companies and make money on it. False known claims for youtube and ask for all the money that was made on the videos x 10 (amount + 9x). FedFlix can use libel and ask for all the money that was made on these videos x 10 (amount + 9x).

Once disney and a few others have to pay for EXPENSIVE lawyers AND massive penalties, they might think twice about stealing and lying.

Re:Time for YouTube/FedFlix to make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347246)

Why don't you sue them? The videos don't belong to fedflix either. it would be the same thing. It would be interesting if the government sued on behalf of the american people who paid in public funds though. If that is possible.

Re:Time for YouTube/FedFlix to make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347312)

Technically the government don't need to bother with suing anyone, they can just use strongarm tactics if necessary, under anti-terrorism laws, they could require Google do THEIR bidding rather than the RIAA/MPAA's for example, those NSLs also come in handy.

Re:Time for YouTube/FedFlix to make money (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347320)

Possible? yes.

The government is a wholly owned subsidiary of its corporate masters, and they would never approve of it, so it will never happen.

Re:Time for YouTube/FedFlix to make money (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347368)

Why don't you sue them? The videos don't belong to fedflix either. it would be the same thing. It would be interesting if the government sued on behalf of the american people who paid in public funds though. If that is possible.

Fedflix was the party accused, under penalty of perjury of illegally posting copyright material. This has a direct bearing on their business reputation. So there is a difference.

Whether or not you'd have any chance of winning the case against a corporation with big pockets, and whether or not a small loss is going to sting enough to hurt is the question. I suspect not, and it would be a costly gamble for Fedflix.

Re:Time for YouTube/FedFlix to make money (1)

zentigger (203922) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347420)

Wouldn't this count as Fraud, entitling FedFlix to damages, real and possibly punitive?

Liberatarian Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347422)

From a Libertarian perspective I fail to see a problem with this.

So if FedFlix or whomever has a problem with this, let them or whoever else wants to pay for the litigation pay for it. The government should just keep its nose out of it.

Hell the government has no business wasting my tax dollars and creating the videos to begin with.

Re:Liberatarian Perspective (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347486)

What should they be wasting your tax dollars on?

Re:Liberatarian Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347968)

Only what the Constitution [archives.gov] explicitly allows.

Re:Liberatarian Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347924)

Well, from a sane perspective, I think your first line would make a nice epitaph for the Libertarian perspective.

Re:Liberatarian Perspective (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347948)

Far be it from the government to create social surplus! People might think that it is effective and useful, very dangerous.

Standing to sue (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347658)

There may not be a private right to sue. It is possible that the goverment can bring the suit. That is why Fedflix is making a public stink about it and sending documentation to the Archivist of the United States.

Re:Time for YouTube/FedFlix to make money (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347700)

Netflix is being libeled here. In addition, you tube is being KNOWINGLY lied to. This is not a copyright case. This is libel and false misrepresentation.

Preservation of the public domain and the commons (5, Informative)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347188)

If you are short of some good Christmas reading, you could do a lot worse than James Boyle's excellent book, "The Public Domain." It looks at a number of similar issues, critiquing the rise in the enclosure of the public domain, with the call to arms that, without defenders actively arguing in favour of the public domain, it will be gradually eroded by the proprietary claims of third parties, since it has no voice, nor lobbying power, of its own.

He has made it available [thepublicdomain.org] in PDF under (CC) BY-NC-SA 3.0 [creativecommons.org] , so you can "try before you buy" or else not buy it if you do not want to but, in my opinion, it's worth every penny. (Although I feel rather stupid having a hard copy sitting untouched on my shelf, just so James and his publishers receive money, when the electronic copy was worth far more to me!)

David Bollier's "Public Assets, Private Profits [indiana.edu] " (sorry - Google link) is definitely worth reading, too, for those who care about the preservation of the commons.

Re:Preservation of the public domain and the commo (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347242)

Oops- fixed the Google link into something more palatable, but didn't fix the accompanying text.

Re:Preservation of the public domain and the commo (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347852)

I tried to download it, but NBC Universal claimed copyright and blocked me.

Devil's advocate (3, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347190)

Just because the government made something, doesn't mean it was completely legal. Governments can break their own laws too.

Just because the films were made at public expense by the government and nobody can claim ownership of the films, doesn't mean all content used to produce the films was properly licensed for release in the public domain.

The copyright system may be immoral and ethically wrong, the corporations are (probably) still within the legal boundaries. Hate the game, not the players.

Re:Devil's advocate (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347396)

Hate the game, not the players.

Shitty philosophy that allows corrupt and immoral games to continue to be played. You should seek to correct the law, and at least plug the loopholes people are abusing, but better yet hold them accountable.

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347444)

But since these videos are not trying to make money for the government (unless they are advertising taxes!), shouldn't that be automatically under fair / education use?

Even if a copyrighted song was used in a slide show for a video explaining some public policy on school, or a science video, how does that constitutes a infringement?

Perhaps we should hate the game creators more.

Re:Devil's advocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347892)

Just because the government made something, doesn't mean it was completely legal.

See Iraq war for proof.

What a surprise (2)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347200)

These videos were produced at public expense and no one can claim to own them, but multinationals from CBS to Discovery Communications have done just that, getting YouTube to place ads on the video that deliver income to their coffers. What's more, their false copyright claims could lead to the suspension of FedFlix's YouTube account under Google's rules for its copyright policing system. This system, ContentID, sets out penalties for 'repeat offenders' who generate too many copyright claims — but offers no corresponding penalties for rightsholders who make too many false claims of ownership.

What a surprise that the multi-billion dollar advertising company is complicit in displaying as many ads as possible regardless of actual content ownership. Google should be doing more to stop this.

That's a criminal offense (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347206)

That's a criminal offense. See 17 USC 506(c) [justice.gov] : "Fraudulent Copyright Notice. -- Any person who, with fraudulent intent, places on any article a notice of copyright or words of the same purport that such person knows to be false, or who, with fraudulent intent, publicly distributes or imports for public distribution any article bearing such notice or words that such person knows to be false, shall be fined not more than $2,500. "

The Department of Justice is squishy-soft on enforcing this. It's apparently never been enforced. Nor does it create a private right of action, so you can't sue under it.

Re:That's a criminal offense (3, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347328)

Fraud requires specific intent though. You need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they don't hold the copyright, that they knew they don't hold the copyright and they deliberately did this with malicious intent.

It's tricky to prove. The defence of an honest mistake is way too plausible for this to stick. A legal strategy that's a lot more likely to succeed is a civil lawsuit, where the standards of proof are much lower, and you can still claim damages (just less) if you can't prove they acted wilfully.

Re:That's a criminal offense (3, Insightful)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347360)

See, the loophole is right there in the text: "with fraudulent intent." How often is something intended to be fraudulent? This law was written to be undermined.

Re:That's a criminal offense (3, Interesting)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347890)

Making knowingly false statements is all that is needed. You can't say "oops, we made a mistake" in most jurisdictions on that score. When it's a knew or should have known type situation (this would be it...), you're going to face the Fraud music- the big problem there, though, is getting the DoJ to own up to it being their responsibility and acting upon the same.

Re:That's a criminal offense (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347388)

a) The Department of Justice is subject to the same corruption as the rest of the Federal Government. The money points away from enforcing that law.

b) The law is carefully worded such that "fraudulent intent" is required. All the company needs to do is say "sorry, we thought it was ours!" and they're off free. The burden would be on the Government to prove fraudulent intent, and good luck with that.

c) Organizations like GEMA who have warped national laws such that they legally do own all music within their country unless it has been properly opted out (that being nigh impossible by design) would be unaffected.

Re:That's a criminal offense (1)

ewibble (1655195) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347682)

$2500 is probably not even worth there lawyers time (too busy issuing take down notices), even though probably impossible fraudulent intent to prove anyway.

Interestingly... (2)

Jigsy (2513074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347224)

A little while back I was watching this video of someone playing a newly released game he'd recently imported from Japan on his PSP. (The device and his his desk were in shot, so it wasn't footage ripped from some website.)
 
...It was removed on the grounds of "copyright infringment" by the developers/publishers.

I mean, seriously? Sorry, but fuck you!

YouTube really needs to grow a spine when it comes to copyright cases and at least determine if something actually requires removing instead of just doing it blindly.

Re:Interestingly... (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347378)

If they had any grounds to do so, but the idiotic law is worded to favor the claimant, no proof necessary.

Re:Interestingly... (2)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347516)

The developers have a copyright on their game. Showing the game in his video violates that copyright unless he falls under a few exceptions.

Rightsholders? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347226)

This system, ContentID, sets out penalties for 'repeat offenders' who generate too many copyright claims — but offers no corresponding penalties for rightsholders who make too many false claims of ownership.

I don't think that word, "rightsholders," really would be appropriate in this circumstance. Unless it means something completely other than what I would think -- which is a possibility, given that my spell check doesn't even recognize that it's an English word,

GEMA (3, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347234)

Yeah, there are all sorts of copyright pirates out there.

GEMA is an example [youtube.com] of an organization that lays millions of fraudulent claims.

Re:GEMA (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347502)

Germany has elevated rent seeking to a form of government. Germany's quasi-governmental societies, guilds, and "rights organizations" impose vast fees on a wide range of devices that are ostensibly used for copying the content of German artists and then redistribute it to their members. Even German television is based on this principle, forcing people to pay for content many of them don't want and never watch. Of course, the vast majority of the content that is being delivered is either free or foreign. Other parts of German society function the same way: churches don't live off donations, they live off church taxes and general taxes, non-profits are almost exclusively government funded, even political parties and the education of the next generation of party leaders are almost largely funded by the government. And corporations also form very tight "partnerships" with the German government (a kind of proto-fascism).

I think there is something fundamentally wrong with German government and society to tolerate this. And the US should fight such tendencies here. A lot of the push behind more restrictive US copyright laws is really lobbying by large European, and in particular German, publishers.

Trolling is another problem (5, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347248)

Another issue with this system is that it's easily trolled. There's people who put false claims in claiming to be a company when they're really not associated with the company at all.

It's a common problem with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic videos on Youtube. Hasbro (the owner) allows them to be up, including full episodes. Someone else claims to be Hasbro and has it pulled, then the poster has to go to real Hasbro to get them to tell Youtube to reverse it. Eventually the account gets "flagged" for repeated violations even though they've all been false positives.

The system just plain sucks at handling this stuff.

Re:Trolling is another problem (2)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347382)

That is a mighty strange obsession that someone has. I don't mean the people watching My Littl Pony. I mean the people that would go out of their way to have it pulled down if in fact Hasbro has given the OK on it.

Re:Trolling is another problem (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347534)

Yeah there's some real fucking pricks out there.

Re:Trolling is another problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347598)

I'm actually fairly amazed that it's so easy to get MLP episodes on Youtube.

I suspect it's one of those cases that the show went viral WELL beyond ANYONE's expectations, and they don't want to kill this new influx of fans by accident. After all, Hasbro's trying at the Disney strategy whereby they use their network as a merchandising tool (after all, you can find most Disney cartoons on Youtube with ease)

Prevoius story (2)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347756)

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/07/28/0124213/better-copyright-through-fair-use-and-ponies [slashdot.org]

Hasbro need to tweak their merchandising if they're to capitalize on the older fan base. Canonical ponies, and complete seasons on blu-ray with extras.
No self respecting brony is going to buy a PINK Princess Celestia.

Re:Trolling is another problem (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347692)

Eventually the account gets "flagged" for repeated violations even though they've all been false positives.

Yeah. I reckon this is more about cost to youTube than any inherent sense of justice. Flagging means they need to spend time and money dealing with it, false positive or not. Easier and cheaper to just throw the whole lot out.

Fair-Isaac also fails right siders in Credit Score (0)

aisnota (98420) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347304)

Note, right siders always seem to get the shaft.

ContentID, Fair-Isaac is more egregious in that they give little or no points to those paying early.

But if you miss one or two bills, then even if your history says you paid early dozens of times, guess what! They ding you hard!

Wish that Fair-Isaac gets class action sued over that penalty heavy system they monopolize as a close source score on your credit!

John Corzine probably has a high score, and you probably have a lower one, hmmm. something is wrong here, mighty wrong, ContentID wrong again!

No good deed goes unpunished. Welcome to be part of the ninety-nine percent.

YouTube is not an archive (2)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347342)

Why put this stuff on YouTube at all? Why not post it to the Internet Archive and other archival sites?

(Of course, false copyright claims should be prosecuted as fraudulent and punished accordingly.)

Re:YouTube is not an archive (4, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347768)

Why put this stuff on YouTube at all? Why not post it to the Internet Archive and other archival sites?

(Of course, false copyright claims should be prosecuted as fraudulent and punished accordingly.)

The stuff is already archived before FedFlix does anything. FedFlix is seeking to make these more available, that is, "share" them. Which is what YouTube is for. It's even in the Summary: "The videos are posted by the nonprofit FedFlix organization, which liberates public domain government-produced videos and makes them available to the world.".

And according to TFA: "Malamud's group pays the fees associated with retrieving copies from the US government ... and posts them to YouTube, the Internet Archive and other video sites."

"Corey" (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347364)

Come on, Soulskill and esocid. Its Cory [xkcd.com] , not Corey. 10 out of 10 for attempting attribution, but couldn't you at least cut-and-paste the name correctly?

Last remaining innocent has their hopes dashed (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347400)

The *AA engage in bullying, theft, "hollywood accounting", and false claims of ownership or copyright violation to generate revenue.

My God. They're greedy. Apparently the writer of this article was the last innocent who didn't realize that.

The question is not whether they're greedy pilfering thieves laying false claims, but what can be done through the courts to sue the bastards for their attempts to steal public domain content and claim it as their own. I want to see the *AA paying the government who paid for the public domain content to collect copyright violation damages at least as high as what these bastards come after individuals for.

Counter-measures (4, Interesting)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347520)

FedFlix should create "derivative works" who would then not be in the public domain.
Adding one image at the begining telling "FedFlix brings you !", and one at the end with "Thank you for watching" and maybe a small watermark would be enough and trivial to automate.

This would create an "infringable" copyrighed notice, and then anybody who would want to benefit from the FedFlix "marketing" to push their adds would be "infringing" could be "expulsed" and potentially be "banned" from youtube (it would be fun to see FedFlix asking google "why isn't this dangerous repeat offender "CBS" banned ?

Of course it seems "pointless" but just as the GPL is using copyright to implement copyleft, you need sometime to use private means to promote the public domain.

I wonder why they didn't do it ...

Re:Counter-measures (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347722)

That is a crazy enough solution that it might actually work...

happened to me, but YouTube is part of solution (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347544)

We've actually come a long way in the last decade in terms of being able to make public use of the public domain in the U.S. The vast majority of works that are PD in the US are ones that were copyrighted after 1922 but reverted to the public domain because their copyrights were not renewed. It used to be that if you came across a book from 1927, you could be almost certain that it was PD (simply because, statistically, few books had their copyrights renewed), but you wouldn't have any way of making sure, because the renewal records weren't online. But the good folks at Carnegie Mellon, Project Gutenberg, and Distributed Proofreaders did all the hard, dreary work of digitizing the records and putting them online [blogspot.com] in searchable form. So for example, a creative-commons-licensed physics textbook that I wrote includes a drawing of a boy hanging by his arms from a bar. The drawing is from a 1927 physics textbook, which I know is PD because I was able to check online that the copyright was not renewed. Another great thing about living in the US is that our law says that a faithful reproduction of a PD work can't be copyrighted (Bridgeman Art Library, Ltd. v. Corel Corp., 1999). I have a portrait of Isaac Newton in my book that is a photo of a 17th-century oil painting. I got a nastygram once from the museum in the UK that owns the painting, saying I was violating their copyright. Sent them back an email saying, "Sorry, not copyrightable in the country where I live," and that was the end of that.

It gets a lot harder when you're dealing with sound recordings and moving pictures. The records aren't digitized by the government, and even if they were to be digitized, it would not necessarily be easy to index and search them. Unlike a book, a sound recording doesn't always have any clear labeling as to its title. Indexing sound and movies is a hard problem. It requires a ton of computing power to do well. What we really need is someone with a super-huge CPU farm who is willing to put tons of computational effort into indexing these things. I wonder who has the facilities necessary for that? Uh, Google, that's who. Google owns YouTube.

Here [youtube.com] is a PD video I put together of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsing -- a classic staple of American physics education for three generations. About 10 years ago, you could only get this by paying a ton of money to an educational video company. I found two newsreels about the bridge at archive.org, one silent and one with music and narration. I spliced them together. Since the first one was silent, I found a recording of some vintage jazz that fit, and voila, I had a PD replacement for the laserdisc that my college had bought for hundreds of dollars.

About a year later, I got an email from YouTube saying that the jazz tune I'd used in the video (Boot It, by Bennie Moten) actually wasn't PD. I was originally annoyed and sure they were wrong. But I looked into it, and it looked like sure enough, it was still in copyright. Archive.org had apparently not realized that a certain percentage of Bennie Moten's work was still in copyright. The rights holder is selling the recording online. And you know what? YouTube didn't try to crush me. They didn't sue me. They didn't send me a DMCA notice. They didn't take down the video or make me take it down. They simply started pulling revenue from it and giving some of that revenue to the copyright owner. Really not a problem.

So although it sounds like FedFlix has a problem, my own experience with YouTube was that they performed a service for me that nobody else was willing to perform: they figured out whether an old piece of music was actually PD. The end result is that it's a big win for everyone.

And I can't help feeling that Cory Doctorow, as in many of his hand-wringing advocacy pieces, is being a little overwrought. The problem here is not that FedFlix is being sued. AFAICT, FedFlix is not being served with a DMCA notice. AFAICT, FedFlix's videos are still all available on archive.org [archive.org] . So what is the horrible injustice that Doctorow is complaining about? It seems to be the following. He wants YouTube to use their server farm and bandwidth to serve these PD movies to everyone all over the world, without charging anyone a dime. YouTube has criteria for deciding what types of films they're willing to do this with. YouTube's criteria are narrow and inflexible. Boo hoo. YouTube is under no obligation whatsoever to subsidize the distribution of these films. If YouTube decided that they would only distribute films whose titles started with the letters "A," "B," and "Q," they would be within their rights.

As far as I'm concerned, YouTube is the good guy here.

Re:happened to me, but YouTube is part of solution (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347838)

Since the first one was silent, I found a recording of some vintage jazz that fit, and voila, I had a PD replacement for the laserdisc that my college had bought for hundreds of dollars.

I know this isn't what you meant, but I am now envisioning that video of the collapse set to Yakety Sax.

I feel a little bit bad for it, but that's a price I'm willing to pay.

And you know what? YouTube didn't try to crush me. They didn't sue me. They didn't send me a DMCA notice. They didn't take down the video or make me take it down. They simply started pulling revenue from it and giving some of that revenue to the copyright owner. Really not a problem.

On the flip side, that response was the decision of the rights holder. If they had said "we want the video down", it would have gone down.

YouTube is under no obligation whatsoever to subsidize the distribution of these films. If YouTube decided that they would only distribute films whose titles started with the letters "A," "B," and "Q," they would be within their rights.

I don't think that anyone is arguing that YouTube is legally in the wrong. It's more of some combination of that the copyright laws in the country are screwed up (which you may or may not agree with, or could agree with but think that this case doesn't really illustrate the problems) and that YouTube should have some modification to their counterclaim procedures to give accounts like FedFlix more recourse.

Re:happened to me, but YouTube is part of solution (5, Informative)

KeithIrwin (243301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347964)

I'm glad you've had good experiences and it's interesting to know what's happened to you, but none of that changes the fact that YouTube's content ownership framework doesn't allow people to dispute claims of ownership on public domain material. How would you feel if someone claimed ownership on your Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse footage you assembled and chose to block it worldwide?

Well, that's what's happened with the famous Duck and Cover educational video. It's public domain, but Image Entertainment (whoever that is) has claimed copyright of it and are blocking it from being seen in all countries except the United States. This is described in the report [resource.org] which Cory mentions.

The issue isn't really whether or not YouTube are good guys or bad guys. The issue is that the system they have in place doesn't effectively allow for disputing whether or not something is in the public domain. This allows people to claim content which they don't own and to profit from it. People like yourself who want to use that public domain content can have their accounts suspended or blocked for using video and audio content including content in the public domain. Now, in your case, someone made a legitimate claim to some of the content you used for your video and YouTube handled that appropriately. That's good. But when people make claims to things they don't own, they're handling that in exactly the same way, which isn't appropriate. So, if you worked hard and created an interesting video using public domain content, a random company can siphon off some of your revenue from it simply by falsely claiming that they own the copyright on something which is actually in the public domain.

Expectations too high. (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347606)

I think Corey Doctorow expecatations are too high for Googles ContentID system. It is an automated system. It shouldn't be handling ownership disputes. This dispute can only be handled in court. If I were Google I wouldn't create a 1 click lawsuit button either.

Screwing the small guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38347802)

Youtube gained popularity and numbers on shoulders of the small guy - vids posted by all sorts of home productions but is bowing to a few powerful content owners. Looks like they got their priorities in the reverse order.

Depends on the Contract w/ Government (1)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 2 years ago | (#38347834)

Works of this nature are usually done subject to Federal Acquisition Regulation Clause 52.227-17 Rights in Data- Special Works [acquisition.gov] which says

(2) The Contractor shall have, to the extent permission is granted in accordance with paragraph (c)(1) of this clause, the right to assert claim to copyright subsisting in data first produced in the performance of this contract.

Its not unusual for the Government to allow a contractor to assert copyright, as long as the Government itself has unlimited rights. It really depends on whether the the Government, in the form of the contracting officer, gave permission to the contractor. The Government only keeps contract records for about 6 years 6 months (except in special cases), so depending on how old the particualar work is, the only conclusive record (i.e. a permission letter from the Gov't) may be in the hands of the contractor. Other contemporaneous proof would likely be if the work was registered with the Copyright office when produced, which would lead one to beleive that permission was granted at that time. If no registration was made contemporanously, then likely (but not conclusively) no permission was given and there would be more credence to the idea that they are claiming copyright without permission.

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