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Copyright Axe To Fall On YouTube?

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the calm-before-the-storm dept.

295

theoddball writes "In what should come as no great surprise, Universal Music Group is preparing to file suit against YouTube for copyright infringement, the AP reports. Discussions with the site's owners have broken down (although talks are apparently still progressing with Myspace / News Corp over similar issues). From the article: 'We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars,' Universal Music CEO Doug Morris told investors Wednesday at a conference in Pasadena. This development follows last month's announcement that YouTube is negotiating with labels to legally host videos. While the primary complaint is against music videos, one cannot help but wonder if this will also impact the many, many homemade videos using copyrighted UMG songs as a soundtrack (or — *shudder* — a lipsync.)"

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295 comments

Tens of millions (5, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111112)

With the various lawsuits going on, and settlements seeming to arise regularly... I wonder whether they're actually making more profit for these various companies than some of their CD/movie sales. Certainly the lawyers are munching on a fair chunk... but how much are the studios taking in as profit?

Truely a sad business model... especially when they're going after companies that are actually trying to negotiate legitimate mutually-beneficial deals.

Re:Tens of millions (5, Interesting)

dilby (725275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111457)

What I don't understand is why the hell youtube is talking to a record company in the first place. Why aren't they dealing with a Copyright collection society [wikipedia.org]? (I don't know the name of the US one). They are an orginisation attempting to make money with content including copyrighted material, which the copyright holders are legally entitled to recompense. But their business model is more like the modern day equivalent of a tv station, so they should be paying in a similar way to how tv stations pay for their use of copyrighted material.

Looks like the rider beat the horse (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111113)

In a horse race, you don't want the rider to come in before your horse. YouTube seemed like they were desperately hoping that their horse would get bought up by a big media conglomerate before the litigation rider came calling.

If they don't get acquired right quick, it will be a sad day for all of us YouTube lovers.

Re:Looks like the rider beat the horse (5, Insightful)

daspriest (904701) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111232)

Why buy youtube, when you can sue youtube and take the site as a settlement instead.

Re:Looks like the rider beat the horse (4, Insightful)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111334)

The site itself is worthless. Other than maybe the name (which would be destroyed once they win), YouTube is worthless. It makes no profit (the bandwidth used to stream videos on the front page alone is mind boggling) and lets be serious, the moment they win, every OTHER group will demand the site more or less be brought down completely.

This is more or less the same way Napster was destroyed and why is never reclaimed the crown as a music distributing software. By the time Napster was re-released it was too little, too late. And then of course there would be the copycat sites, the backlash against the industry and the grassroots attempt to stop this. (Remember the publicity Napster got before they brought it down?)

Re:Looks like the rider beat the horse (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111448)

Perhaps because you see value in it and you aren't associated with businesses that feel harmed by it?

There are more potential buyers for youtube than just the RIAA/MPAA.

Re:Looks like the rider beat the horse (5, Insightful)

b0r1s (170449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111333)

Sad? It'll take about a month for all the users to migrate to one of the dozens of alternative sites that act in the same way and have slightly different features.

Those that want DRM and community support will hit grouper [grouper.com]. Those that want porn will hit pornotube [pornotube.com]. The people who just want to use their webcams and view amateur clips will use vobbo [vobbo.com]. The ones that want to open license their content will use ourmedia [ourmedia.com], and the ones that want revenue sharing will use revver [revver.com].

Dozens of alternatives, just look at The list [fileratings.com].

Re:Looks like the rider beat the horse (1, Insightful)

spisska (796395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111358)

Nice analysis.

Youtube is often held up as an example of Web 2.0 (whatever the hell that means), but the strategy -- get an audience and bail -- is much more of a Web 1.0 (or 0.90) strategy.

Then again driving visits with user-generatated content, thought to be the hallmark of Web 2.0, is remarkably similar to Web 0.1 (codename BBS - atdt/gopher).

With Youtube, I have yet to see any coherent idea of how thay are planning to turn all those eyeballs into cash while mitigating the risks involved in hosting videos that depict clearly illegal activities or are clear violations of copyright or trademark. This ignores all the videos that are borderline copyright violations, which this suit is likely to be about and which Hollywood would be much better off ignoring.

But Hollywood tends to ignore things they shoudn't, like Office Space or Xvid, and makes a big deal of things they ought to ignore, like Napster(TM) or Gigli.

What everybody jumping on the bandwagon seems to fail to realize is that once the product everybody uses no longer does what they want, or the PITA factor gets to high, the market will turn in a moment. Hotmail was at one time the most popular web-based email app,

No cost means no commitment, and for something like Myspace or Youtube any cost at all for the user would mean death.

Youtube has been burning cash, and I'm not sure I see a way out. Rupert Murdoch seems to think he can make some money off of Myspace, and maybe he can. But places like Myspace and Flickr seem eerily similar to the basic concept of the internet circa 1994-95. There is precious little difference between Murdoch's new toy and the Cleveland Freenet other than the volume of current and potential users, the ability to include graphical content, and the exponentially increased potential for abuse.

At least I know that if Youtube falls (under its own weight or a corporate parent's), it will be replaced by another service that is faster, smarter, easier, and more pleasing to look at.

Re:Looks like the rider beat the horse (1)

utnapistim (931738) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111454)

But places like Myspace and Flickr seem eerily similar to the basic concept of the internet circa 1994-95.

Actually Flickr's business model is different; they offer a very limited account for free and charge to remove the limitations. (A "pro account" on flickr is 24USD per year).

Re:Looks like the rider beat the horse (0, Redundant)

Section_Ei8ht (951997) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111583)

If YouTube was ever taken down due or changed to litigation, all YouTube would have to do is make an announcement as to why, and instantly millions of YouTube addicts with no prior knowledge of the People vs. **AAs will suddenly hate the **AAs.

Re:Looks like the rider beat the horse (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111589)

Right. Like all the other times it's happened in the past.

Fat lot of good it's done so far!

they never learn (-1, Redundant)

motank (867244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111114)

these companies! etc etc. put me in charge i'll make you so much money and make everyone happy

Find all those old videos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111120)

and watch them before they're gone.

I figured this would end soon. YouTube is still looking for buyers/investors as I understand it... I'm not sure how they could sell it with all that content.

how insane (4, Interesting)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111126)

did you know that UMG just pulled their videos off of the music video station Fuse because they couldn't come to an agreement for compensation? http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=17040 3 [absolutepunk.net]

am i alone when i say i am blown away that record labels ask stations for a penny to show their videos? i don't know how they did things in the stone age, but MY generation will NOT pay major labels to promote THEIR albums.

Re:how insane (5, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111166)

but MY generation will NOT pay major labels to promote THEIR albums.

Um, okay. Then what's the problem — They'll pull their "promotions" and you'll have no problem with it, right?

Way back in the stone age when one business existed to profit largely via the work of another (see Napster, YouTube, etc. Though YouTube has far more legitimacy given the vast number of user contributed, non-pirated content), the copyright system is geared to demand compensation. Sort of like how the GPL, via the same copyright, is geared to demand its own sort of payment.

Re:how insane (4, Insightful)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111295)

"am i alone when i say i am blown away that record labels ask stations for a penny to show their videos?"

Why the surprise? Music videos are certainly connected to albums sales, but they're also productive as entertainment in their own right. They're shown on TV, which generates viewership and sells ads, which means that someone is paying for it. Indirectly, sure, but they're paying for it.

That's all that UMG is trying to negotiate with Fuse. Both sides believe that UMG can charge Fuse, and Fuse can show the videos, generate viewership, and sell ads. If they didn't agree on that, they'd never have sat down to negotiate in the first place.

I suspect that, since the phenom is relatively new as a business idea, Fuse and UMG have somewhat different assumptions about what the value of the videos actually is. If Fuse pays too much, they can't turn enough of a profit on the content to bother, but UMG wants to charge as close to that point as they can get away with. This is a classic negotiation, and it's been done for years in TV. Give it time, and they'll work out how to do business in the new medium. Maybe another year or two, maybe different companies (YouTube, perhaps?), but it'll happen.

"...MY generation will NOT pay major labels to promote THEIR albums."

Which generation do you mean? If you're old, sure--geriatrics don't watch music videos so much. But if you're young, your generation most certainly DOES pay. You (collectively) buy product X, which was promoted by advertising runs on a channel showing music videos, which pays for the ads.

Simple, simple stuff, here, people.

Re:how insane (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111452)

Last time I checked, music video stations where playing videos in order to sell advertising. Why shouldn't they pay for the content that ultimately nets them a profit?

Re:how insane (3, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111560)

but MY generation will NOT pay major labels to promote THEIR albums.


Your 'generation' might not, but TV companies will, as people who are watching music videos can also be shown adverts which bring in revenue above the costs of the videos, thereby producing this thing called 'profit'.

This is a very simple concept, maybe your generation is too obsolete to understand how modern business works.

When will these people get it?? (3, Insightful)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111130)

At the end of the day, these movie/song clips are just basically adverts. Its the ultimate form of Viral Advertising and the studios should be encouraging it, not trying to control it.

If they want to make money then this sort of stuff is gold for them, it doesn't cost them anything at all and its not hard to start something.

Its all stupid. You see them release "controlled" video's onto youtube and other blogsites when they are promoting a movie/song but if its something that wasn't thought of by them they suddenly want to sue the pants off everyone.

You can't have it both ways.

Re:When will these people get it?? (3, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111180)

If Microsoft (or International Chess University) stole GPL code, would you be saying the same thing? Maybe Universal is being an asshole here, but it's their right to do so.

Re:When will these people get it?? (0, Flamebait)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111366)

If Microsoft (or International Chess University) stole GPL code, would you be saying the same thing?

No, and with good reason, the GPL specifically allows redistribution so long as it's done without financial gain. Thus, if someone were to give away copies of gpl'd software it would not raise any ire.

Now if you want to actually make the analogy work by making it a violation of the GPL.. well then you have to alter the circumstances.

Violation of the GPL and "stealing" of code would have to involve financial gain without the contribution of the new extensions you added to the source.

Until then, your analogy does not hold.

Maybe Universal is being an asshole here, but it's their right to do so.

i guess this assertion can be filed in the same junk drawer with that constitutional clause of slaves counting as two thirds of a person,gilded age before the labor and women's movements, and the phrase "the only good indian is a dead indian" in the US.

Apparently some fat old rich guys decided that "all men are created equal" means "old rich guys were created more equally than everyone else".

Re:When will these people get it?? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111450)

Violation of the GPL and "stealing" of code would have to involve financial gain without the contribution of the new extensions you added to the source.

The violation would be in distribution of binaries without making the source available, financial gain has nothing to do with it.

The analogy isn't great, but the basic thrust of the argument does hold - someone is doing something with a copyrighted work that the copyright holder does not approve of (and that is covered by copyright law). It may make sense to us for UMG to allow YouTube to do this for marketing purposes, but they don't want to, and that's their choice.

Re:When will these people get it?? (2, Informative)

Air-conditioned cowh (552882) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111465)

the GPL specifically allows redistribution so long as it's done without financial gain

Sorry to be pedantic but, as I understand it, you can charge for GPL code if you want, as long as the source isn't witheld for an additional fee. It's just not an amazing business model because someone can buy your GPL product and then start re-distibuting it for free.

I've even seen shareware, complete with nag screen and feature limitation, released under the GPL since it probably won't occur to anyone to recompile it and redistribute it themselves and if they did they wouldn't have the brand recognition. In fact, come to think of it, that's exactly what Redhat do.

Re:When will these people get it?? (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111535)

[...] the GPL specifically allows redistribution so long as it's done without financial gain.
It does bring up a an interesting question in regards to "financial gain."

Okay, so I sing a copyrighted song in the shower. Nobody cares. I'm recorded in the shower singing this song. This recording is played for my housemates who all have a good laugh. Again, nobody cares.

Said recording is placed up on YouTube. YouTube is now, in theory, making money off of my singing this copyrighted song by placing an advertisement for T-Mobile on the same page. Suddenly, somebody cares. Why? Because someone is now making money from the copyrighted song being performed. And the owners of the copyright aren't making a dime.

So where does this "financial gain" line get drawn?

I remember there was a big deal because certain members of The Doors did not want their music used in commercials and other members did. Don't the copyright holders have a right to say how their music is used?

Re:When will these people get it?? (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111467)

Maybe Universal is being an asshole here, but it's their right to do so.

Who exactly are you addressing that comment to? I don't see anyone suggesting otherwise.

But: just because you have the right to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do.

Re:When will these people get it?? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111556)

The analogy you're looking for is "What if Microsoft was bundling FireFox with Windows?" The goal of both the record companies and the Mozilla people is higher distribution as a means to higher sales (in one case albums, in the other google searches). YouTube helps achieve that goal.

What it doesn't take into account, is that Music Videos themselves have become a valuable property. The advertising has become the message. So now not only do they want the advertising for the album to get out, but they want to control and make money on how the advertising is distributed.

Re:When will these people get it?? (2, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111624)

If Microsoft (or International Chess University) stole GPL code, would you be saying the same thing?

I would. Be nice to see MS improving their products.

Re:When will these people get it?? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111240)

At the end of the day, these movie/song clips are just basically adverts.

You do not get to make that call. The copyright holders do.

Re:When will these people get it?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111274)

On the other hand, we're allowed to say that it's a stupid decision of questionable business sense. If they want to shoot themselves in the foot over it, they're free to do so.

Re:When will these people get it?? (5, Insightful)

XStylus (841577) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111479)

The problem that the studios are having is that they don't want a repeat of MTV.

But what's that, you say? "MTV was a boon to the music industry, wasn't it?"

And yes, indeed it was. MTV not only promoted popular hits, but it allowed lots of artists that couldn't get airtime on the radio to find an audience via MTV. But, as we all know by now, the industry can't see the forest for the trees.

Here's a quote from this article [yahoo.com]:
Record companies are keen to avoid repeating the mistake they believe they made when Viacom Inc.'s MTV was set up 25 years ago -- allowing their artists' music to be aired for free.

Morris in his remarks to investors on Tuesday said MTV "built a multibillion-dollar company on our (music) ... for virtually nothing. We learned a hard lesson."


Yes folks, this is Hollywood's way of saying thank you to MTV. That channel grew a new outlet for music, brought even MORE interest to said music, and helped the music industry make billions, and in spite of all this, the industry is pissed that they gave MTV the tools to do it for free.

And with that in mind, they fear YouTube will be the next MTV, and they want a piece of it. Like usual, they're shooting themselves in the foot. Again. It boggles my mind how utterly near sighted the industry is. It can't see the forest for the trees.

Re:When will these people get it?? (2, Interesting)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111567)

Before MTV I can remember music videos turning up at the most incongruous moments on my local TV station (UTV in Northern Ireland). I mean for instance I've watched the lunchtime news and there's 5 minutes until The Sullivans are on so lets have a video from some band I've never heard of before or since. The fact I'd never heard of them makes me suspect there was a time when music companies actually PAID to have their videos shown on mainstream TV (to the influential Sullivans audience of that era.)

Re:When will these people get it?? (3, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111575)

At the end of the day, these movie/song clips are just basically adverts. Its the ultimate form of Viral Advertising and the studios should be encouraging it, not trying to control it.


They are encouraging it. But why shouldn't youtube pay for it like everyone else? Music videos bring in viewers which can be translated into revenue. Why should the music industry provide free revenue for youtube, MTV etc?

You can't have it both ways.


Actually they can, as it's their videos and they are free to release them for free or to charge for them as they wish. When you make a video you are free to do whatever the hell you want with it. But wait, that would mean work, it's much easier to sit on your arse whining at people who actually have initiative.

First P2P, then Video Sites, then what? (1)

iSeal (854481) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111136)

Wherever you'll see exchange of copyright properties without labels getting money, you'll see lawsuits like this. First they went after P2P, now video sites... but what's next? What's the next logical step? Google Video I'm sure is in the immediate future, but I mean more along the lines of the conceptually different.

Websites housing lyrics? Oh wait...

Re:First P2P, then Video Sites, then what? (5, Insightful)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111207)

No, First they went after sheet music: "If they wish to hear my music, come see my show" -very early John Philip Sousa quote, then they went after 78RPM "Buy the sheet music!", then Radio "Buy the 78s, Radio is music for Free!" then.....you get the picture. Technology never waits for the weasels in suits to figure it out, it just goes along its merry way inovating and waiting for humans, Yeah thats us, to figure out how to use it. Meanwhile the Curia argues over whether the church should ban printing presses since they will put all the clerics in abbeys out of work...

Re:First P2P, then Video Sites, then what? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111409)

Meanwhile the Curia argues over whether the church should ban printing presses since they will put all the clerics in abbeys out of work...

except this time the Curia passed the DMCA, and thereby cunningly slipped the reigns of power under the table to copyright cartels.. now they are allowed to legislate whatever they please upon technology in the form of licensing of formats for which technology is not legally allowed to develop its own methods compatibility.

Granted it still goes on, but individuals who slave as hard if not harder to produce innovations which preserve compatibility are no longer allowed to enter mainstream marketplaces and actually profit from those labors. Untold economic growth through forces trying to meet the need for anti-drm devices drained swirling down the toilet trap.

Re:First P2P, then Video Sites, then what? (2, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111525)

Don't forget that thanks to deregulation cartels like ClearChannel own the majority of most markets.I'd be happy to let the copyright holders do what they want if the hadn't stacked the deck.Your band gets popular and wants to get on the radio?Either get royally screwed in a contract with the cartels or forget it.They want to shut down anything they don't control.Just as they control tv and radio they now want to control what you see on the net.

Don't believe it is about money,although their greed is neverending.It's about making sure the masses watch and listen to the corporate playlist.I'm sure all these "Joe average" users flocking to the 'net must have them seriously irked.Can't have them watching "unapproved content" now can we?

Re:First P2P, then Video Sites, then what? (1)

OldManAndTheC++ (723450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111485)

Meanwhile the Curia argues over whether the church should ban printing presses since they will put all the clerics in abbeys out of work...

Why, that's a scurrilous accusation! There's nothing for it: I'm simply forced to clamber into my hansom cab [wikipedia.org], drive over there at a furious gallop, and deliver a right, good thrashing unto your person with my buggy whip!

Had to be a *music* company (3, Interesting)

PatriceVignon (957563) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111138)

Of course it had to be a music company. A music company that is part of a much bigger media conglomerate, but it is the subdivision that is suing. And they are suing because someone creates a new music video for an old song. This at least involves some work by the person posting it. Yet there is so much content on youtube that is blatantly ripped from TV, but nobody sued about that yet.
Youtube is going to become Napster 2.0: once wildly popular, then sued into oblivion.

More like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111139)

"We believe these new businesses^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H everyone is a copyright infringer and owes us tens of millions of dollars..."

DMCA Safe Harbour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111151)

Why doesn't the DMCA safe harbour rules apply?

Or is this another case of one rich company using the court system as a negotiating tool?

Re:DMCA Safe Harbour (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111158)

Yarr! There be no safe harbor fer ye pirates!

Re:DMCA Safe Harbour (1)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111382)

Tortuga here I come! Wait... Dammit that's now part of France, they bowed to Apple's DRM demands earlier this year. Is there nowhere safe?

Re:DMCA Safe Harbour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111204)

Why doesn't the DMCA safe harbour rules apply?

Because Youtube is an effective distribution system for unique content (even it if is lipsyncing), and the music industry hates success when it's not their success and will try to sue it out of existence.

Buy used music, support indie bands.

Re:DMCA Safe Harbour (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111489)

If you'd add "and then spend SettlementInDollars*4 to set up their own ineffective service/website" I'd agree with you.

Revenue (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111161)

Legal action is a revenue stream. This is what the Canopy Group err Universal Music Group does....

YouTube is not the new Napster (4, Insightful)

Stalyn (662) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111162)

The difference being Napster was unable/unwilling to remove copyrighted content. YouTube is more than able and more than willing to remove copyrighted content. The Grokster case set a nice precedent in that a company must at least try to comply with copyright law. Not only that the vast majority of media companies have embraced YouTube, Capitol Records for example has uploaded their own music videos.

Re:YouTube is not the new Napster (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111249)

The problem is, users are all too quick to post the same content again. Even if Youtube started to use hashes to prevent that, the sneaky little gits will break the originals up into smaller chunks and do it again.

Re:YouTube is not the new Napster (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111268)

and the site falls under the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA so Universal can go pound sand

Re:YouTube is not the new Napster (1)

pikakilla (775788) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111337)

This might be shooting themselves in the foot as well, but if youtube doesnt want to deal with this horse crap, they should pull the content from ALL providers with the statement of "due to the recent legal troubles with UMG and to prevent all further legal action against youtube, we do not wish to infringe on anyone's copyright therefore we are pulling all content from all providers (even those who have given permission to do so) to cover our asses." Let those who understand the power of this kind of marketing deal with the dinosaurs who dont. Youtube might not have enough influence, but im sure those who have embraced this model do.

Although, as said earlier, this could easily be complete suicide with no apprechiable gain.

Re:YouTube is not the new Napster (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111374)

This would make YouTube 100% unviable as a business. YouTube needs to be bought out. It can't sustain itself on its current profits, so it needs to be funded either through direct investment or through promotional fees by the same media companies that are now at their throats.

If they declared that they are going to take down all non-user content as a reaction to this lawsuit, they would be breaking whatever agreements they may already have with certain media companies, and they would be forced to live off the revenue generated through advertising, membership fees, and donations.

It would be extreme folly to declare themselves independent of the media companies. They are in no position to negotiate, and throwing away their best cards is a dumb strategy.

a host or a distributor? (1, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111183)

Is YouTube just a host or are they a content distributor? If they are just a host, how can they be liable for what others post on their site?

Re:a host or a distributor? (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111199)

By promoting certain videos (the "director's corner" or whatever they call it), they have risen above mere shuttling bits around to actively selecting and distributing content. If they can take action to promote certain videos and remove certain other videos, not to mention restrict access to some types of videos, then they are a much more active player than a mere Napster who was only a middleman.

Re:a host or a distributor? (1)

cryptoluddite (658517) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111464)

As long as the process is automated, such as 'most discussed' or 'most viewed' then they have some protection under the DMCA. It's not their responsibility to determine if all their videos are legit, only to take down ones that are not authorized when and if they find them and to take down any videos when copyright holder gives them a notice to do so. Thanks to Grokster they also can't advertise or make money off of having unlicensed content.

This is just more evidence that the big corporations don't care what the law is, even a crappy law they paid for like DMCA. Even though YouTube *is* legal they'll sue them to death anyway.

Prompt removal of copyrighted material not enough (5, Insightful)

ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111186)

So as soon as someone posts copyrighted material on a website, the owner of the website owes money to the copyright owner. I guess it's under the impression that for a brief period of time the website owner made money off ads and the copyright owner should get that ad money. It seems a little like the patent trolls waiting until a company has a successful product. If people want to use a song they will have to wait until the copyright expires .. oh, wait...

I don't get the tens of millions of dollars part though. I've heard of $150 million to $400 million a year in potential revenue for YouTube. I understand it from the greedy record company standpoint, but I can't see it from the actual damages perspective. I guess every single person who saw a video that had a copyrighted song copied the song and E-mailed it to their friends in the Hong Kong Triads who later distributed pirate versions of it throughout Asia.

There is incentive for major content providers to completely destroy user content websites. After all, the content oligarchy would not want competition, even poorly made funny cat video competition.

Re:Prompt removal of copyrighted material not enou (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111466)

IANAL, but I believe that US copyright law allows for punitive damages, that is damages that are intended to serve as a punishment.

UMG aren't suing YouTube just for the money they made by distributing these videos, they're suing to punish them for violating their rights.

There is incentive for major content providers to completely destroy user content websites. After all, the content oligarchy would not want competition, even poorly made funny cat video competition.

As much as I don't like a lot of what certain copyright holders and their interest groups are doing, this is easily avoided by simply not violating someone's copyright.

Re:Prompt removal of copyrighted material not enou (1)

Netsensei (838071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111490)

In Belgium, the IFPI (that's like RIAA to you, yankees) started litigation aganst seniorennet.be, a website for 50+ surfers. They object against the fact that seniorennet hosted several discussionboards where visitors shared links to IP protected material.

Altough the webmasters of seniorennet.be complied with their demands and shut the boards down, the IFPI isn't satisfied: seniorennet.be effectivly still "provides" the means to share protected files through comments, etc.

It's not the first time this thing happens over here. But as far as the IFPI is concerned: even the most simple guestbook should be shut down as it provides "means to share links to website that share protected material".

Kinda spooky!

Overestimate? (1)

modeless (978411) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111622)

To me, tens of millions sounds like a gross underestimate. Every view of every video containing even a small piece of a copyrighted song is an infringement, possibly multiplied because the video could be downloaded and redistributed. Using the same math they use on P2P infringers, I could easily see the calculated damages being in the billions or trillions. The revenue YouTube actually makes is immaterial to the calculation of damages.

The music companies want to sound reasonable so they quote a figure that YouTube might actually be able to pay. If they quoted the real figure people might catch on to just how unreasonable current law is.

Dirty Play (3, Insightful)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111217)

UMG are just playing dirty. They are trying to negotiate with YouTube and MySpace and things aren't going (entirely) their way, so out comes the threat of potential future lawsuits with a nice big number (tens of meeeellions of dollars!) to crash the stock value of YouTube and MySpace today. The threat is basically: "Look at what we can do to your stock with a few choice words. Accept our last offer or we hit you again."

Re:Dirty Play (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111414)

Why is it that when ATT got sued by pretty much everyone at once over the NSA illegal wiretapping, their stocks didn't plummet? Why doesn't Microsoft's plummet after pretty much everything they do?

It begins... (4, Insightful)

ImaNihilist (889325) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111223)

It was ineveitable. Looks like Universal gave up waiting for YouTube to make some coin before they filled suit. I guess they realize now that YouTube will never make money.

The reality is that more people use YouTube to view content that shouldn't be on there than to view the content that should. I'm no exception. The only thing I really use YouTube for is watching South Park and other shows off Cartoon Network. I'll also use it to watch music videos, but not even watch the video. I just want to hear the song, and I know YouTube has it.

Sure, there are people who actually don't use YouTube for this purpose, but I'll tell you right now that they are in the minority.

The only way YouTube can save itself is by moderating ALL videos. That is, videos will only appear on the site once they are flagged, much like Google does. If and when that day comes, all the content I want will be gone and there's really no reason for me to ever go to YouTube again.

Did anyone really think YouTube was going to stay around? I'm amazed that investors kept pumping money into it.

I have no interest at all in commercial vids. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111331)

The reality is that more people use YouTube to view content that shouldn't be on there than to view the content that should. I'm no exception. The only thing I really use YouTube for is watching South Park and other shows off Cartoon Network. I'll also use it to watch music videos, but not even watch the video. I just want to hear the song, and I know YouTube has it.

Sure, there are people who actually don't use YouTube for this purpose, but I'll tell you right now that they are in the minority.


Fuck that copyrighted shit...I lurk at YouTube to watch the home videos of preteen girls.

You pirates make me sick.

Re:I have no interest at all in commercial vids. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111558)

This is exactly right. Who the hell watches music videos?! The grandparent says he loads them just for the music - yeah right. The quality is so awful, I don't know how you can bear to listen. YouTube is exclusively about looking at girls in various sorts of home movies.

Negotiating tactic (1)

OldManAndTheC++ (723450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111455)

Looks like Universal gave up waiting for YouTube to make some coin before they filled suit.

More like they want to put pressure on YouTube to sweeten the eventual settlement. TFA said it best:

"To drive the negotiations in the directions they want, they're starting to make it clear there are legal alternatives for not complying with what Universal wants done," he said.

Re:It begins... (4, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111636)

Thinking back a month... Things I've watched recently on You Tube:

Trailer for Transformers [youtube.com] - Legalish
Transforming Robot Beetle [youtube.com] - Legal
Playing With Electricity Video [youtube.com] - Legal
Metalocalypse [youtube.com] - Not Legal
Ask a Ninja [askaninja.com] - Legal
Street Running [youtube.com] - Legal
ZeFrank talking at a convention - Legal
Some guy blowing the whistle on faulty helicopter design - Legal
Quake 3 Rocket Jump super skillz video - Legal

I know there are a lot of illegal uses for YouTube. But it seems like unlike a lot of P2P apps, the non-infringing uses are substantial. If YouTube could successfully filter out all of the illegal content, it would still have a lot of uses

Okay (4, Insightful)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111225)

"We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars"

Fair enough. Please direct us to the site where we can see Universal Music Group artists' music videos.

Okay. Please direct us to the television--

Okay. Please direct us to the DVD--

Oh, you mean nobody would ever see these videos otherwise? So if there's no market for these videos, how can it be established there were tens of millions in damages?

BZZZT. Thanks for playing.

why are music vids even neccessy on youtube (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111229)

Its a shame youtube cant just agree to try to stop hosting comercially licenced music vids..
and the music industry in turn 'give some slack' in regards to personally filmed home-movies using soundtracks..
Personally I reckon youtube is great for the home made and TV content.. most modern pop music (and the industry bendind it)
just does not interest me.. but there is so much more on youtube..

believe it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111246)

'"We believe these . . . owe us tens of millions of dollars,"

I believe that they owe me tens of millions too!
can i sue? please?

well (2, Insightful)

ImTheDarkcyde (759406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111252)

Copyright Axe hasn't hit Ebaumsworld yet, and they have plenty of content ripped straight from DVDs. And hell, they even get a TV show out of it.

I can see their point (5, Funny)

Sathias (884801) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111259)

I was going to buy the latest Metallica album, then I realised that I could get all their film clips to be viewed in a blurry little window, with near-radio quality sound! Not to mention that a series of YouTube links doesn't take up valuable space on my CD rack! Chalk that up as one lost sale *cha-ching*

Re:I can see their point (2)

Modeski (1002388) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111403)

This is a very good point. Youtube doesn't pose any realistic threat to UMG. Can anyone honestly say they've seen or heard something on Youtube in preference to buying it? I see YT as the latest incarnation of friends swapping tapes amongst each other. I think they're just bitter because they've missed the boat.

Re:I can see their point (1)

McFadden (809368) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111695)

Youtube doesn't pose any realistic threat to UMG.
I agree, but you missed the word "yet" from the end of your sentence. What happens a few years down the line when the technology has the capacity for the small blurry video and radio quality sound to turn into a full screen, high bitrate, perfect copy of what was uploaded. At that point, Youtube becomes nothing more than a centralized file sharing network for getting any media you want. Companies like UMG aren't so stupid that they can't see this coming, so why not knock Youtube out of the game early, before the bigger problem materializes?

Don't get me wrong. I despise the RIAA, UMG and their cronies as much as anyone. They're a bunch of blood sucking parasites whom I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire. But the problem with rich assholes is that they like being rich and want to stay that way.

It's a control issue (5, Insightful)

TheoreticalString (1002915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111262)

For the RIAA, this is about far more than money. This is about control. Consider the high-profile members who are so much more than music companies. Sony. Warner Brothers.

This is about control over entertainment. You Tube is a form of entertainment that they simply don't control. They don't produce it. They don't write it. And they don't make money off it. Theoretically, a band could make a hit song that never passed through any of their doors. A person could make a You Tube video so famous that he could achieve status as a director without ever setting foot in one of their offices.

You Tube has the ability to deliver content to every person with an internet connection. Statistically, it is inevitable that eventually a breakout new band or director will arrive through You Tube without any member of the big corporations having their claws in them. For the RIAA this is about the fact that they want to retain control over every note of music you hear. It assures them they will never be caught by surprise. It allows them to stay in the forfront of new trends. It lets them juggle bands, hits, and artists with impunity. It lets them create restrictive contracts that give the vast majority of money from CD sales to them, instead of the artist. It lets them artificially inflate prices and manipulate the market.

That's worth infinitely more than $1 million in proprietary content that they might be losing, if we take the highest number imaginable. That's why they care.

Re:It's a control issue (1, Insightful)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111471)

"Statistically, it is inevitable that eventually a breakout new band or director will arrive through You Tube without any member of the big corporations having their claws in them."

No it's not inevitable. Not even likely.

"For the RIAA this is about the fact that they want to retain control over every note of music you hear."

That has never been the case.

think profits (3, Insightful)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111293)

We must never forget the purpose of copyright laws. They are there to promote the useful arts. Ask yourself: how is suing youtube accomplishing this?

The idea that no one will create anything if youtube users are allowed to use it in their homemade videos is absurd. But don't blame Universal. Blame congress for favoring promotion over profits and allowing the recording industry to make massive campaign contributions in what would *appear* to be an exchange for legislation.

The entertainment gives our elected officials about $30 million/year [opensecrets.org] to make sure they can bring lawsuits like this one.

This is stupid (4, Insightful)

GoatPigSheep (525460) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111294)

Has anyone noticed videos on youtube don't even have sound in stereo? They are all in mono.

You can't even listen to music properly using the videos on that site, the quality is too low.

As for the lip-syncing and dancing videos, it's free advertising. I bet "numa numa" sold a lot more records since that fat dude posted a video dancing to it, in fact they are using that to market a new version of that song now...

Re:This is stupid (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111365)

Without having seen Brolsma (sp?) lip sync the Numa Numa song, I would never have bought it on iTunes. So in certain circumstances, it is true that distributing the song without permission will benefit the artist. On the other hand, if something already is very popular -- the chances of an infringing use generating a sale are probably low.

Sue'm All (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111326)

YouTube Legal Strategy:

We seem to be liable for 'contribuatory infringement'; aka we make it possible (knowingly?) for others to violate copyright (even though we respond to requests to remove copyrighted material).

The RIAA, etc, want their 'pound of flesh', and we don't think they deserve it.

If we are liable, for contributing to the violations, then necessarily, others must be as well. While we provide the service to share, the individual users must knowingly violate, as well as everyone between the copyright holder and us.

Therefore we sue:

  • CD manufacturers (they don't prevent people from copying)
  • CDROM drive manufacturers (they allow the cd to be read)
  • Computer manufacturers (they allow the cd to interface to software)
  • OS manufacturers (they allow software to access the CD, through the computer
  • Software manufacturers (they provide software to access the CD, convert the copyrighted material, and upload it.)
  • ISPs (they allow the transmission of copyrighted material, we merely provide access to it).
  • Chair manufacturers (they allow users to sit while they abuse copyright)
  • Housing contractors (they provide a safe haven for infringers)
  • Electricity Generation Companies (they provide the electromotive force that allows the infrinment to take place)
  • End Users of our service (we take every IP that has every connected to use, and individually sue them for the infringment).

Amen. The lawsuit to finally decide the issue.

Re:Sue'm All (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111356)

The real question is: If ISPs are liable for copyrighted content, and a website allows users to create content, at what point does the website assume responsibility?

Assuming the website responds to requests to remove copyrighted material, how is it any different from an ISP?

What allows an ISP to ignore copyright violation, via transmissions through the network, while a website can't?

They both provide the same basic service, only the website is somewhat more persistant then the ISP...

Re:Sue'm All (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111516)

"What allows an ISP to ignore copyright violation, via transmissions through the network, while a website can't?"

No one said a website couldn't, but ISP's can as long as they are a common carrier. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_carrier [wikipedia.org]

I'd love to see YouTube argue that it's a common carrier.

Re:Sue'm All (2, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111606)

I certainly respect where you're coming from here, but there's something I don't think you appreciate.

Not meaning to troll here, but I've found that the liberal ideal revolves around giving people freedom by restricting the law. By demanding that it be followed word-for-word, by demanding education over legislation, by trying to iron out inconsistencies by reducing the powers of authority. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that the law is merely a tool for persecuting those they don't want around (be it for safety or purely selfish reasons). They don't tend to care if it goes beyond the law's juristiction, they just want the offending party outta there.

That seems to be where UMG coming from. They don't give a shit if the law is inconsisent, they're just want to permanently squash the healthy competition that YouTube (and P2P networks) provide(s).

Any artist (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111338)

that believes they honestly deserve money because someone lipsynced to their video should be boycotted until they are back stocking shelves at walmart. they are not artists in any way shape or form, they are money grubbing whores and that is it. fuck them

Re:Any artist (2, Insightful)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111532)

It's not about lipsyncing videos, although anyone song that gets the lipsync treatment is popular enough to matter.

It would be interesting to see your change in perspective if you ever produced anything worthy of being lipsynced on youtube.

Re:Any artist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111621)

Mod troll.

Another one bites the dust ... (1)

getkashyap (678131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111351)

Yeah, yeah!! we've seen it all before. X sues YouTube. YouTube closes. Someone startsa sute called MeTube! (pun not intended). :)

Fine... (1)

fuzzybunny (112938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111377)

While I dislike ham-handed copyright suits, at least this might serve to get rid of the gajillions of Backdorm Boys ripoffs by pimply American college kids.

I mean, the originals [youtube.com] were pretty funny, at least Da Da Da, Peking Opera and Don't Lie made me laugh, but aside from that, Go Get'em Universal!

Where will it end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111389)

This just in: the RIAA has issued a lawsuit against Al Gore, creator of the internet, over copyright infringment...

What everyone seems to be missing (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111391)

UMG seems to think that they can just haul up to this site and drive away with truckloads of cash. What they don't get, and what everyone seems to be glossing over, is that the Internet isn't a truckload of cash. It's a series of YouTubes.

Doing our business is what DMCA notices are for (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111444)

I shudder to say it, but isn't this what DMCA takedown notices are for? If someone puts some music they don't own on the web space that their local ISP gives them, then the copyright holder's recourse is to send a DMCA takedown notice. The ISP handles it, problem solved.

Why should YouTube be any different? Send them a DMCA takedown notice, and surprise surprise, they'll happily remove the offending content. Problem solved.

There's only one reason why YouTube is getting treated differently. UMG sees a cash cow that they don't own, and they want desperately to milk it.

I hope they dont (4, Insightful)

Private.Tucker (843252) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111487)

Seriously, it is coming to the point that you can't even whistle your favorite song without being sued for copyright infringement.

Isn't that what YouTube basically does? User posted content? A person plays their favorite song, a person dances to their favorite song, a person posts a music video thats already available on MTV/VH1 (when those stations actually play music 1 hour a week).

Mark this, the end of cover bands, the end of whistling while you work, and the end of free speech.

Links! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111504)

So can the rest of this thread be used to post all the really good YouTube videos before they get axed?

Evanescence AMVs (2, Interesting)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111529)

Actually, this happened a long time ago. Websites with AMVs to Evanescence songs were told to cease distribution of the videos or face legal action. The RIAA already made up its mind a long time ago on this...

YouTube is down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16111562)

Good work, guys.

My time is valuable too (1)

noz (253073) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111656)

I believe these copyright holders have wasted my time and owe me tens of dollars.

How do they lose money? (2, Insightful)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111683)

You can't buy pop videos so no loss of revenue there.
You can download the video from YouTube, think 'I like that' and go out and buy the CD. Money made there.
I can't think of any downside to free pop videos online unless someone wants to rip the mega low quality sound off the video stream but frankly you'd be pretty desperate to do that.
Sounds like record company is shooting itself in the foot to me.

When will they learn? (2, Insightful)

core_dump_0 (317484) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111703)

When will the music industry learn that producing the same trash while using Mafia-style business tactics against their customers just increases their problems of low sales?

What are they trying to do? Will they wind up becoming a government subsidized industry because they have alienated all but the true Hollywood-loving sheep and can't afford to pay their employees? Now I hate corporate welfare, but I'd be REALLY pissed off if I had to subsidize the Music Mafia.

All I know is I have not bought a CD (except from independent foreign labels) in ages. I have no reason to, anyway, everything here just sucks.

took this long? (2, Interesting)

pbjones (315127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16111705)

I'm surprised that it took this long for a legal battle to start. YouTube was becoming the Napster of video and it had to be a target sooner or later.
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