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In the series “algorithm regulation”, we discuss the implications of the growing importance of technological algorithms as a means of regulation in the digital realm.
Yesterday, YouTube proudly announced on its blog that it had improved its “Content ID” system, which allows rights holders to automatically detect uploaded content that contains potentially infringing works, by introducing a new appeals process:
Users have always had the ability to dispute Content ID claims on their videos if they believe those claims are invalid. Prior to today, if a content owner rejected that dispute, the user was left with no recourse for certain types of Content ID claims (e.g., monetize claims). Based upon feedback from our community, today we’re introducing an appeals process that gives eligible users a new choice when dealing with a rejected dispute. When the user files an appeal, a content owner has two options: release the claim or file a formal DMCA notification.
In addition, YouTube claims to have made its algorithms “smarter” to reduce the number of unintentional Content ID claims:
Content owners have uploaded more than ten million reference files to the Content ID system. At that scale, mistakes can and do happen. To address this, we’ve improved the algorithms that identify potentially invalid claims.
In their book “Information Feudalism” (2002), Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite argue that the “danger of intellectual property lies in the threat to liberty” (p. 3). Also Jamie Boyle, in his open access book “The Public Domain” (2008, PDF) warns against the potential of strong copyrights to interfere with some of the most basic human rights such as free speech. Only rarely, however, these dangers become so clearly visible as in the current controversy around a Greenpeace campaign video.
It all started with a very successful Superbowl commercial by VW, featuring a child as Darth Vader and being enormously successful on YouTube with over 40 million viewers so far:
Inspired by this commercial, Greenpeace created a parody featuring several kids playing other famous Star Wars characters and attacking VW for its CO2 policies on the campaign website www.vwdarkside.com. When today I wanted to see the video embedded at the site, I however only encountered the message delivered by YouTube that the video was not available due to copyright infringement (see screenshot below). Read the rest of this entry »
A few days ago, the German collecting society GEMA was criticized by CEOs of leading music labels such as Universal or Sony Music for not being able to negotiate an agreement with Google, the owner of YouTube, that would allow their music videos to be featured on the site (see “Cracks in the Content Coalition: Corporations vs. Copyright Collectives“). Today the German branch of the hacktivism group Anonymous weighed in and launched a campaign against GEMA (see the video message below).
At the time I
am was writing this post, the GEMA homepage is was down, most likely because of a distributed denial-of-service attack - the standard form of online protest organized by Anonymous. The rationale for the attack given in the video explicitly refers to the recent criticism by major label representatives and reads as follows (my translation): Read the rest of this entry »
In April this year, broadcasters, collecting societies, and representatives of the music and film industry in Germany publicly announced the foundation of the “Deutsche Content Allianz” (“German Content Alliance”) at a press conference in Berlin:
Only two months later, this coalition exhibits some severe cracks. And the reason for these cracks is the extensive blocking of YouTube videos demanded by GEMA – something we have repeatedly discussed on this blog (see, for example, “Viral Web Videos and Blocked Talent” and, most recently, “Art Across Borders“). Originally, blocked videos only delivered a page stating that the video was not available “in your country” and referring to the rights holder – the latter mostly being one of the leading media corporations such as Universal, Warner or Sony. Read the rest of this entry »
Today YouTube announced on its official blog the introduction of Creative Commons support:
Have you ever been in the process of creating a video and just needed that one perfect clip to make it pop? Maybe you were creating your own music video and needed an aerial video of Los Angeles at night to spice it up. Unless you had a helicopter, a pretty powerful camera and some fierce editing skills, this would have been a big challenge. Now, look no further than the Creative Commons library accessible through YouTube Video Editor to make this happen. Creative Commons provides a simple way to license and use creative works.
Actually, YouTube had tested the implementation of Creative Commons licenses already more than two years ago (see Creative Commons blog) but has shied away from introducing it as a general feature until today. That this has now finally happened is celebrated by many Creative Commons sympathizers in the blogosphere under headings such as “Why YouTube Adopting Creative Commons Is a Big Deal” and, of course, Creative Commons officials. Read the rest of this entry »
Right on time before flying to Leuven for the upcoming ESF Workshop “Consuming the Illegal“, Google/YouTube published the copyright cartoon perfectly illustrating what the workshop will be about:
The copyright abolitionists over at “Against Monopoly” feature a series entitled “IP as a joke“. But this video, as funny as it may seem, is to be taken completely serious. The background for this crazy/disturbing/awkward “Copyright School” is a change in YouTube’s copyright infringement policies. As repeatedly discussed on this blog (e.g. “This Post is Available in Your Country“) and described by fellow workshop participant Domen Bajde (see “Private Negotiation of Public Goods: Collateral Damage(s)“), users who posted three videos containing (seemingly) infringing content to YouTube have not only lost those videos but all of their videos: their account was deleted.
But since even for copyright lawyers it is often difficult to distinguish between infringing and non-infringing (fair) use (see the workshop paper of Sigrid and myself), a lot of creative users remixing existing works were in constant danger to lose all their uploaded videos due to suddenly becoming a “multiple infringer”. This week, Google has softened this policy a little. “Infringers” are now first sentenced to “copyright school”. On the official YouTube-blog this reads as follows: Read the rest of this entry »
Harward law professer Lawrence Lessig is one of the most recognized copyright experts in the world. When giving public presentations, he regularly includes short video clips to make his point. Obviously, these video quotations are covered by the fair-use-clause in US copyright. Residing in Germany, however, YoutTube does not allow me watching the video of one of Lessig’s talks embedded below. I stumbled upon the link to the video as a Slovenian colleague, Domen Bajde, recommends it to his students in a course on global business environments. When clicking on the link, YouTube just tells me that
“Dieses Video enthält Content von UMG. Es ist in deinem Land nicht verfügbar.” (translation: “This video contains content from UMG. It is not available in your country.”)
Previously on this blog, I have described how such problems arise as a consequence of (re-)negotiations between platform providers such as Google (the owner of YouTube) and rights holders, which demand a share from the platform’s ad revenues and hold content created and shared by users hostage (see “Private Negotation of Public Goods: Collateral Damage(s)“). The funny thing is how this erects new and increasingly ridiculous barriers in the seemingly global online world that are still tied to national borders. As an Austrian living in Germany, for example, I can only watch every second video shared by my Austrian friends via Facebook. Obviously, I am not the only one annoyed by this phenomenon. Paul Mutant, a Hungarian artist currently living in Brighton, U.K., converted his frustration into the great painting featured below. Read the rest of this entry »
Content hosting services such as Google’s YouTube or Facebook are among the most important digital public spaces. Many entirely new forms of creativity have been inspired and flourish due to new and easy ways of sharing (more or less slightly) modified content on the net. What is more, popular examples of such user-generated remixes or mash-ups rarely stay isolated but lead to video responses – often based on another round of remixing.
Precondition for this ecology of user creativity is not only the technological platform but also an enabling legal framework: while, at least in the U.S., many instances of remix culture fall under the fair-use exemption of copyright, this cannot easily be recognized and thus bears risks of costly litigation. As a result, platform operators such as Google are tempted to pursue policies best described as “delete if in doubt” whether a particular work might infringe copyrights.
But why should copyright holders persecute such “infringements” by ordinary users – often fans and dear customers – who engage in creative work without commercial interests? The reason are commercial revenues generated by platform operators, mostly via advertising. Copyright holders of works (re-)used in user-generated content distributed on these platforms demand their share of those revenues and use their copyrights as a collateral in the respective negotiations. Read the rest of this entry »
Recent copyright conflicts around Google Book Search (see a NYT article) and Google’s video platform YouTube (see another NYT article) independently of one another received a lot of media attention but have not been discussed jointly. This is surprising, not only because in both conflicts Google is under attack but also because both cases have several patterns in common:
First, Google Book Search and YouTube are both tools for making copyrighted material more easily accessible for users. Thereby, Google represents a new type of intermediary between creators and consumers, as they have repeatedly emerged alongside technological change. And as the example of radio broadcasting in the early 20th century demonstrates (see pp. 73ff. in Lessig 2001, PDF), the role and regulation of such new intermediaries is a highly contingent negotiation process. Read the rest of this entry »