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Recently Google announced an extension to its “Transparency Report“, which now also includes a section on requests to remove search results that link to material that allegedly infringes copyrights. Last month, Google processed 1,294,762 copyright removal requests by 1,109 reporting organizations, representing 1,325 copyright owners. The Figure below illustrates how the number of requests has increased between July 2011 to mid May 2012.

The growing number of removal requests points to the relevance of search technology as a means for copyright enforcement. Since for many Internet users what is not found by Google appears to be non-existent, removing search results from Google’s results lists is obviously a powerful tool for private copyright enforcement. However, several downsides are connected with such private copyright enforcement practices:

Read the rest of this entry »

Today, Google announced its acquisition of Motorola Mobility for not less than $12.5 billion in cash. And I completely agree with Forbes’ contributor Eric Jackson, who states that

Androids

Saad Irfan, CC BY-NC-ND

[i]f you think this is about Google getting into the handset business, think again. If Google were to get into the handset business, they would turn their back on partners like HTC, Samsung and others.
Today’s deal is all about acquiring Motorola’s backlog of mobile-related patents. When Google lost out on the batch of Nortel patents, they worried that Android was significantly at risk.

A risk stemming from the fact that, in spite of developing Android under an open source license, powerful patent holders such as Microsoft were able to squeeze out licensing fees from corporate Android users. The bizarre result being that Google, the main developer of Android, gives away its contributions to the operating system for free while its not-contributing competitor Microsoft charged hardware producer HTC $5 for any shipped Android (!) smartphone (see business insider). 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:

Member sof the German Content Alliance

Source: Stefan Krempl / heise.de

Harald Heker, CEO of the leading German collecting society GEMA, even praised the initiative as an “important closing of ranks” among rights holders (via heise.de, German only).

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 »

Dirk von Gehlen, editor in charge of the German portal jetzt.de, points in his blog to the following impressive and viral Google commercial featuring Lady Gaga and dozens of Lady Gaga fans all around the world:

As von Gehlen emphasizes, the video is effectively a collage of copyright infringements by YouTube users, ending with the request to provide even more of those:

the web is what you make of it

In the official description of the video, Google gives more details on the background and the making of the video:

This film celebrates Lady Gaga’s special and unmediated relationship with her fans, the Little Monsters. The making of this film is a demonstration of the power of the web in its own right. […] Within hours of the release of her new single “Edge of Glory” on May 9th, fans began uploading videos on YouTube, making the song their own by dancing to it, singing it and playing it on all kinds of instruments.

The whole video and its imperative is thus completely at odds with another video released by Google about a month ago: the YouTube Copyright School, which was meant to educate users about copyright and warned them to abstain from infringements like those presented in the Lady Gaga commercial. Read the rest of this entry »

Cover "The Master Switch"Tim Wu, 2010: The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

The main theme of “The Master Switch” is the “oscillation of information industries between open and closed”, a phenomenon  Tim Wu finds and tracks in “any of the past century’s transformative technologies, whether telephony, radio, television, or film”, referring to it simply as “the Cycle” (p. 6). The historical description unsurprisingly culminates in an analysis of current battles around net neutrality and the openess of the internet.

Wu sees “a chasm opened between Google and its allies like Amazon, eBay, and nonprofits like Wikipedia on the one side and Apple, AT&T, and the entertainment conglomerates on the other” (p. 289).  Those two coalitions, however, are not to be considered “one pack of wolves chasing another” but rather as “polar bears battling lions for domination of the world”:

“Each animal, insuperably dominant in its natural element – the polar bear on ice and snow, the lion on the open plains – will undertake a land grab where it has no natural business being. The only practicable strategy will be a campaign of climate change, the polar bears seeking to cover as much of the world with snow as they can, while the lion tries to coax a savannah from the edges of a tundra.” (p. 289-290)  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 »

The first large scale private attempt to both resolve the problem of orphan works and at the same time create new revenue models in the market for books has failed. This week, Circuit Judge Denny Chin rejected the Google Book Settlement in an 48-page-long ruling (PDF). Whether an approval of the so-called “Google Book Settlement” would have been for the good or the bad was highly controversial (see “Pamela Samuelson on the Future of Books in Cyberspace“) and the related discussions have not been futile. The whole Google Books controversy highlights the opportunities and dangers of all-embracing and essentially private regulatory frameworks for the access to books in the digital age (see “Angry Librarians: The eBook User’s Bill of Rights“).

Many blogs specialized on IP issues have immediately started to discuss the short- and long-term consequences of this decision so that for an general overview I just recommend some of these postings:

Grimmelmann is the only one of these commentators that also briefly mentioned the international dimension of the ruling. He summarizes as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

At the end of the year, Time Magazine traditionally publishes “The Top 10 of Everything” online. Many of those lists contain videos and some lists, such as “Viral Videos“, “Talented Web Videos” or “Songs“, are exclusively composed out of web videos.

As discussed before on this blog (“This Post is Not Available in Your Country” and “Private Negotation of Public Goods: Collateral Damage(s)“), many user created videos that remix existing works are not available in certain areas of the world due to intervention of large rights holders such as SonyMusic or Warner Music Group. Looking at the three top 10 lists mentioned above, I put together the following graph showing how many of these videos were blocked in Germany:

statistics of blocked videos

Interesting detail: the 3 blocked videos in the category “Talented Web Videos” are ranked 1, 3 and 4 in the Times top 10 list. In other words: the most creative videos – at least according to Time Magazine – are blocked. In the description of the category, Time wrote the following:

“As this year’s list of the top viral videos clearly shows, not all that goes viral is great. The flipside is also sadly true: not all great videos go viral.” 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 »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
October 2021
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All texts on governance across borders are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.