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Viacom Yields to YouTuber Who DMCA Counterclaimed 113

Posted by Zonk
from the live-and-let-live dept.
Jason the Weatherman writes "Two weeks ago Viacom charged Christopher Knight with copyright infringement for posting on YouTube a clip from Web Junk 2.0 on VH1 that featured Knight's zany school board commercial. Two days ago YouTube reported to Knight that his clip was back up and that his account wouldn't be punished. What happened? Knight filed a DMCA counter-notification claim with YouTube: something that happens 'all too rarely' according to Fred von Lohmann at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. From the article: 'Almost no one ever files a counter notice. That's the biggest problem we've encountered [with DMCA claims on sites like YouTube]. Most people have no idea that right exists.'"
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Viacom Yields to YouTuber Who DMCA Counterclaimed

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  • No Idea at All (Score:5, Informative)

    by cromar (1103585) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @04:51PM (#20594709)
    Most people have no idea that right exists.

    I certainly didn't. Here's a DIY [cmu.edu].
    • Re:No Idea at All (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Applekid (993327) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @04:58PM (#20594847)
      'Almost no one ever files a counter notice...'

      I don't think it's so much that nobody knows counter notices exist, it's that most people infringing are truly infringing. That small percent that aren't and are bona-fide content creators? They'd sure as hell know. Or at least better know if they're going to put stuff online on sites like YouTube.

      That said, it'd be amusing if joeuser@aol.com submits a counter notice about his upload (some awesome video he "found") and then gets sued to high hell since it's "under penalty of perjury" that he asserts there's been a mistake.
      • Re:No Idea at All (Score:5, Insightful)

        by OECD (639690) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @06:45PM (#20596271) Journal

        I don't think it's so much that nobody knows counter notices exist, it's that most people infringing are truly infringing.

        Well, *I* think that most people are just reluctant to open themselves up to the possibility of having to defend that assertion in court. Easier to just let it be taken down (and email it to the people you really want to see it.)

        There's also the amorphous nature of fair use and youtube's defacto 'place to post vids' status. If I'm writing a blog entry on a cinematic technique, say the use of a rack focus, I can absolutely put up a clip that shows that technique. But someone trolling youtube might not realize that's why it's there. And indeed, absent that educational component it might indeed be infringing. So how sure am I that the clip will be found non-infringing? Which context will be judged?

        That said, it'd be amusing if joeuser@aol.com submits a counter notice about his upload (some awesome video he "found") and then gets sued to high hell since it's "under penalty of perjury" that he asserts there's been a mistake.

        That said, I'd love to see someone actually sued over issuing a take-down notice on what is clearly fair use.

        • by AikonMGB (1013995)

          Isn't there an infobox you can fill out about clips you're uploading? Place a link to your blog entry in that infobox and sate the educational purpose of the video. That way the context doesn't just disappear for people that just happen to be browsing YouTube. They see the link to your blog post, click on it, and then see how the video is used in an educational scenario.

          I am not an expert in copyright matters, nor am I experienced in posting YouTube videos; perhaps I'm wrong, but what I've said certainly

          • by OECD (639690)

            Isn't there an infobox you can fill out about clips you're uploading? Place a link to your blog entry in that infobox and sate the educational purpose of the video. That way the context doesn't just disappear for people that just happen to be browsing YouTube.

            Yeah, you can do that, but you're not required to. Maybe a site like Photobucket would be a better example. Regardless, "Fair use" is often about context, so if the context is removed (say, somebody embeds the same video in a post without the additi

        • by Torvaun (1040898) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:12PM (#20609213)
          I know next to nothing about the video making process. That said, I'd like to hear more about these videos featuring "rack focus." It certainly sounds interesting.
          • by OECD (639690)
            LMAO. OK, you probably actually know this, but a 'rack focus' is just shifting the the depth of field from a point in the foregound (e.g.) to one in the background, or the other way 'round. Now, one of those points *could* be an actual rack...
      • by brunes69 (86786)
        You don't have to be a content creator to not be infringing. It could easily be justified as fair use. Especially if it is a 10 second clip on YouTube which you have editorialized elsewhere on the web.
      • by Jeruvy (1045694) *
        I think you've been under a rock for the last decade. People don't bother learning about these kind of rights since they don't talk about them on shows like CSI or American Idol. I really think these 'shows' should take the initiative to inform people. Regardless, your penile argument that '...most people infringing are truly infringing' is quite amusing. You tube is not Kazaa... Perhaps you have some valid facts to back that up. Personally I wish there was more copyright infringing posts on You Tube,
    • Re:No Idea at All (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Danse (1026) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @05:31PM (#20595309)

      Most people have no idea that right exists.
      I certainly didn't. Here's a DIY.
      Whenever YouTube takes someone's content down, they should let them know that they can file a counter-claim if they believe they are not infringing. They should give them a link like you did. Problem solved.
      • Re:No Idea at All (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jimicus (737525) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:19AM (#20600719)
        Whenever YouTube takes someone's content down, they should let them know that they can file a counter-claim if they believe they are not infringing. They should give them a link like you did. Problem solved.

        Why on Earth would they want to do a thing like that? Every claim and counter-claim costs time and hence money, you don't want to encourage people to make counter-claims.

        And you certainly don't want to be piggy-in-the-middle between the RIAA/MPAA and joeuser@aol.com
        • by darthflo (1095225)
          I don't remember exactly but I think not too long ago Viacom sent about one million takedown requests to YouTube. As far as I know, quite a lot* of these were unjustified, but very few users actually took the time to issue a counter-claim.
          Now as far as I understand, filing a false DMCA Takedown Request is considered rather evil with perjury and the like probably netting the offender a nice fine and/or an enjoyable vacation behind bars.
          Assuming that 5% of Viacom's notices weren't justified and 2% of all af
          • by darthflo (1095225)
            *: I don't know any numbers but have heard and read numerous personal accounts of authors of taken down material.
      • by ratpack91 (698171)
        According to TFA they do tell you that you can counter-claim:

        "YouTube should be commended for notifying their users when they get take-down notices," von Lohmann continued. "They tell you that a notice has been received, and they tell you that you have the right to counter-notice. Not everyone does that."
  • A class act (Score:5, Interesting)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday September 13, 2007 @04:51PM (#20594719)
    I'd highly recommend everyone actually read TFA (yeah, a possibly futile request), because his reasoned and sensible outlook would do many folks I know a lot of good.
    • I did read the TFA. I thought it was a bit mushy and goofy. I think Viacom does deserve some venom. Essentially they tried to steal someone else's content. Now yes, they screwed up, and it wasn't intentional (exactly), but still, I don't see any reason that they deserve consideration.
    • by Rhys (96510) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @05:21PM (#20595185) Homepage
      Has Viacom (as a corporation) actually learned anything from this exchange? Probably not. They'll go on sending out questionable DMCA violations because most people will roll over and let Viacom have their way with no fight.

      I'd much rather have seen him drag Viacom into court and cost them a lot of money -- because that's all that corporations seem to understand these days. Said loss of money would cause them to at least devote 5 seconds of some human's brain time to the question of "is sending out this DMCA takedown going to land us in court and cause us to lose a ton of money" before sending out future DMCA takedowns.

      And that, in my opinion, would have been very good thing.
      • by StikyPad (445176)
        Well, fortunately we have the concept of de minimis, which means the court does not get involved in trivial things. Everyone is free to file counter-notices, though people rarely do (perhaps because the content typically is, in fact, infringing?) Knowing and exercising your rights is part of the responsibility of living in a free society. Too many people put the onus on the government to be their guardian angel, but courts exist as a last resort, not the first line of defense. The expectation that your
      • by igjeff (15314) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @06:53PM (#20596379)
        >Has Viacom (as a corporation) actually learned anything from this exchange?

        There's no guarantee that Viacom has actually given in as the title of the article indicates.

        Yes, the article seems to indicate that Viacom has backed down, but, unless I missed something, there was no communications from Viacom indicating that they backed down. The communication in question was from YouTube indicating that the content had been reposted as a result of the counter-notice.

        Keep in mind that, under the DMCA rules, the service provider has to take the content down when given a notice, but it is equally responsible to post the content again if counter-notice is filed. At that point, it is up to the party filing the original notice to file an actual lawsuit to continue to pursue the take-down of the content. Just because they didn't file a lawsuit and get a temporary injunction to maintain the take-down in the 10 days before the counter-notice takes affect, doesn't mean that they don't intend to continue to pursue this issue.

        Perhaps there's more communications that are not yet public from Viacom indicating that they don't intend to push forward with this, but just because the content gets re-posted doesn't mean that they have necessarily given in.

        As is so often the case, IANAL.

        Jeff
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by suv4x4 (956391)
        You DO realize most clips they send notice to are totally the book example of why DMCA notice should be sent.

        Mistakes happen on both sides. There's absolutely nothing to drag Viacom in the court about. Mistake happened, counterclaim files, clip restored. Viacom is happy, poster is happy.

        Just zealots aren't happy, but they're never happy, right?
        • by Scudsucker (17617)
          You DO realize most clips they send notice to are totally the book example of why DMCA notice should be sent.

          And *you* DO realize that these notices are sent out under *penalty of perjury*, which is fairly serious business. If a DMCA claim is frivolous, they deserve to get hit with a counter-claim. That's how the law is set up. And they know this full well.

          So no, Viacom should not be let off so easy. But then, you groupthink zealots who run around attacking what you see as Slashdot groupthink are never
    • Don't count on the average person pulling this off, it takes real genius.

    • by runderwo (609077) *
      His argument is not really very well reasoned at all. He fails to acknowledge that Viacom was one of the companies that bought the DMCA in the first place, without which he never would have been threatened; this case was so incredibly weak, Viacom would not have bothered with a lawsuit because they would have seen a summary judgement in the defendant's favor.

      A few counter-notifications is the cost of doing business in exchange for the incredible power of the anti-circumvention provisions and criminal sanct
  • VH1's theft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday September 13, 2007 @04:52PM (#20594733) Homepage Journal
    As many know, I am anti-copyright to begin with, but I wonder why Knight isn't setting up to sue VH1 for "stealing" "his" content and rebroadcasting it.

    Not only did they take his content, but they also attempted to defend his content via the (fraudulent) DMCA and call it their own.

    Might as well go David vs. Goliath in this case, and settle the score with VH1 for the fully penalty of the law.
    • I wonder why Knight isn't setting up to sue VH1 for "stealing" "his" content and rebroadcasting it.

      It might be difficulty finding a lawyer. A lawyer wanting a % may be hesitant when they know they will be facing a well funded corporation. The end result is not guaranteed nore is the odds of winning known. So he may waste a 100+ billable hours doing % case and end up losing. IANAL but it would be my guess as to why. If he did find a lawyer and if he wins then dozen of lawyers will spring up in each city to o
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        A lawyer would be nuts to not take a solid case against a big corporation.
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday September 13, 2007 @04:58PM (#20594843) Journal

      As many know, I am anti-copyright to begin with, but I wonder why Knight isn't setting up to sue VH1 for "stealing" "his" content and rebroadcasting it.
      Probably because his assertion that they stole his content is just as laughable as their assertion that he stole their content. Unless they showed the whole thing, there is this concept of 'fair use' and, I'm sorry to inform you, it applies to companies as well as individuals.

      If you make your own little film & a company releases snippets of it on their station with commentary (exactly what happened here), they should be protected just as you would be if you took 30 seconds worth of film from a Tom Cruise movie and over dubbed it with hilarious Scientology remarks at opportune times.

      Not only did they take his content, but they also attempted to defend his content via the (fraudulent) DMCA and call it their own.
      I think you should really read up on this. He can counter sue for the damages incurred from them demanding he take it down, maybe even cover his time and any legal fees he had but nothing more than that. And it would be awful hard for him to define a missing video on his YouTube site in terms of dollars.
      • If you make your own little film & a company releases snippets of it on their station with commentary (exactly what happened here), they should be protected just as you would be if you took 30 seconds worth of film from a Tom Cruise movie and over dubbed it with hilarious Scientology remarks at opportune times.

        This is arguable the most insightful comment ever seen on slashdot. And potentially one of the most inspiring. Dare I watch a Tom Cruise movie?
      • Unless they showed the whole thing, there is this concept of 'fair use' and, I'm sorry to inform you, it applies to companies as well as individuals.

        Actually, fair use can apply to a use of any length. All else being equal, the more of a work, or the more of the substantive parts of a work, that you use, the less likely it is to be a fair use. That is, it is a factor to be considered. But it is not a determinative factor on its own. For example, when people time or space shift and do so fairly, those are fa
    • Re:VH1's theft (Score:5, Informative)

      by Why2K (29813) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @04:58PM (#20594851)
      Perhaps you should have read the article, which answers this very question.

      It doesn't look like this is going to wind up in any kind of litigation, and for that I am thankful. If I can die someday without having sued or been sued, then I will die happy. This ends just as I had hoped it would: with the clip back up and, I like to think, with Viacom and me getting to shake hands and move on and wishing each other well. I'll certainly harbor no hard feelings toward Viacom for the past two weeks.

      • by AvitarX (172628) <me@@@brandywinehundred...org> on Thursday September 13, 2007 @05:57PM (#20595695) Journal
        He sounds undisclosed settlement happy.

        Though I actually think he is ust over-nice.
        • by RobBebop (947356)

          I recall that his comments on /. two weeks ago said that he really enjoyed seeing his work on VH-1. Plus, isn't it the spirit of /. to promote Openness and that *includes* letting Viacom and TimeWarner use the works we've created.

          Now... if only they'd open up and let us do the same with the work they produce (or at the very least openly distribute their work on BitTorrent).

          Such wishful thinking...

        • He sounds undisclosed settlement happy. Though I actually think he is ust over-nice.

          If need be, I would have pursued this however far it had to go.

          But I'm glad that it didn't have to go any further.

          There are other things that I would much rather spend my time pursuing and engaged in. All of this past year there are projects that I've wanted to do but haven't been able to because there's been one fight or struggle after another. And as I said in the post, I don't hold anything against Viacom.

          I don't want to have an easier life because I "took Viacom to the cleaners" and got a lot of mo

          • by HTH NE1 (675604)

            "Never start a fight, but always finish it." -- John Sheridan

            Technically (and poetically considering these events) John Sheridan was himself quoting the advice his father, David Sheridan, gave him, which John and Delenn in turn passed on in a recording to their son, also named David Sheridan. So...

            "`Never start a fight, but always finish it.'" -- John Sheridan quoting his father's, David Sheridan's, advice to him

            Unless of course you're in the UK where the single and double quotes have their order reversed.

            However, I don't think this is the first time a counter-noti

    • by praxis (19962)
      You didn't read TFA, did you? There he answers the question you just asked.
  • Actually (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prxp (1023979) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @04:55PM (#20594801)
    Most people have no idea that right exists.

    Actually, most people don't have copyrights over the material that gets pulled off.
    • by Junta (36770)

      Actually, most people don't have copyrights over the material that gets pulled off.
      Actually, most do. Most may not realize it, but copyright is pretty much automatic. You don't even need to post a copyright notice of any sort or register it with anyone, so long as you can provide reasonable proof of authorship. Of course, you can pay for a solid defense in an official way..
      • Copyright is more/less automatic, but you actually have to own the copyright first (which is not the case in a lot of DMCA invocations)
  • by Yurka (468420) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @04:56PM (#20594817) Homepage
    Google would receive in the community, if they enclosed a blurb with the standard C&D letter sent to people whose clips they take down, informing them of this provision.
  • Most people have no idea that right exists.

    Well you could post an electronic, easy to fill in the blanks, form or link on your main page. That would make for a good start.

  • by nevali (942731) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @05:10PM (#20595033) Homepage
    I once had a weird situation where I received a notice that somebody was claiming copyright of a photo I'd taken (a self-portrait of all things), on LiveJournal, by way of a DMCA notice.

    LiveJournal told me that I could file a counterclaim, and if the original claimant didn't follow it up, I was free to reinstate the photograph. I did, they didn't, so I put it back up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rhombic (140326)
      The follow-up question is did you get that somebody's information, and did you follow up w/ a DMCA abuse lawsuit? To place their takedown notice, they had to sign that under penalty of perjury that they own the content. Obviously they couldn't for your self-portrait. So, you could follow up like the EFF is going after Uri Geller [arstechnica.com]. Folks need to do a lot more of that; a few significant judgements against DMCA abusers plus fees & court costs could go a long way.
      • by nevali (942731)
        Nope, for two reasons: one is that we were both situated in the UK (it was a DMCA notice because LiveJournal itself is in the US, and they were hosting the image), and the other was that I really couldn't deal with the headache at the time.
      • by vux984 (928602)
        Obviously they couldn't for your self-portrait.

        Actually copyright for a photo belongs to the photographer. A self-portrait, unless the photo clearly shows you taking the picture of yourself, is not obviously yours.

        • Actually copyright for a photo belongs to the photographer. A self-portrait, unless the photo clearly shows you taking the picture of yourself, is not obviously yours.

          Your second statement not correct. (example: camera with a timer or remote control)

          The copyright for a photo belongs to the person that owns the copyright for the photo. It sounds redundant, but just because someone operates a camera (or operates a device that triggers a photographic process) doesn't make them the owner of the copyright. Thi
          • by vux984 (928602)
            The copyright for a photo belongs to the person that owns the copyright for the photo. It sounds redundant

            Because it is.

            but just because someone operates a camera (or operates a device that triggers a photographic process) doesn't make them the owner of the copyright. This does not automatically imply that the photographer is the one that owns the copyright.

            Actually it does automatically do just that. It takes 'special exceptional circumstances' for it not to be the case. Circumstances like a contract/agree
            • by Plutonite (999141)
              Ah, but you see, if you make the monkey take the picture in a national park and the monkey doesn't belong to either of you, then the US of A (or more precisely the state that owns the park) clearly has the copyright over the creativity here. Also, the guy you got the bananas from *can* claim copyright *if and only if* he has given you the bananas for free, in which case he has partial ownership over the apparatus used to produce the photo. Of course, I win over him as well for giving him the idea. The acorn
        • by toddestan (632714)
          A self-portrait, unless the photo clearly shows you taking the picture of yourself, is not obviously yours.

          A self-portrait, by definition, is yours. If the picture was taken by someone else, it would just be a portrait. Of course, depending on how it was captured, I could see it hard to prove it's the former and not the latter.
      • by belmolis (702863)

        By making a false DMCA declaration, Geller did more than expose himself to a civil suit - he also committed perjury, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison (18 U.S.C. 1621 [cornell.edu]). Why is he not being prosecuted criminally?

        • IIRC in the US private individuals cannot bring a criminal prosecution, so for someone to be prosecuted for a crime the government has to care enough to do so.
  • The reason most people don't take advantage of it is because most of the time they are infact infringing....
    If anyone is interested read
    (g) Replacement of Removed or Disabled Material and Limitation on Other Liability.
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000512----000-.html [cornell.edu] /shrug
  • To fight for your rights, then you don't deserve to have them. "Too many people don't know that they can counter claim", if they felt wronged they should have read up on the subject and they would find the counter claim documentation. Too many people think fighting for your rights can only be done on a march or through the courts, fighting for your rights can just be enforcing them. I highly doubt many valuable videos on youtube get removed via the DMCA, but if they were it's the author's failure to protect
    • I'm not sure I agree with your statement. A person may be willing to fight for their rights, but sometimes the fight just isn't worth it. A person has to pick their battles, especially if they, like you, would like to win the war.

      A battle so costly that it makes you lose the war is a battle that you probably would have been better off avoiding.

  • That goodness (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Creamsickle (792801)
    Well, it's about time that some of this "scatter shot" technique being used by the media companies in their so called war on piracy starts backfiring. I'd like to see them become some of the collateral damage, and for the lawmakers to reign them in and make them have a higher evidentiary burden.

    As it is, they basically get to threaten anyone without any justification or consequence. It's getting absurd, really.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721)
      Is there any idea of how many invalid/illegitimate DCMA takedown notices there are? I'd still safely wager most are assertions of legitimate copyright. If the scattershot effect is really bad, then I think fining millions of dollars per fraudulent takedown notice ought to be built into the legislation.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Very few are invalid, in my experience. I work at a university in the office that processes DMCA complaints. We've done thousands of them over the last few years, and I could count the invalid ones on my fingers.
    • by athdemo (1153305)
      There's not really going to be any damage incurred by them for something like this. Hell, it's incredible that he actually made a counter-claim, but for someone to actually step up and make a real suit about this kind of thing? Incredibly unlikely.

      This won't make any difference in their practices whatsoever, I'm afraid.
    • by edittard (805475)
      There's an old fable about the boy who cried 'wolf' all the time. Eventually nobody believed him, so the time the wolf really was there, it ate him (or the sheep) because nobody came to help. Perhaps if anyone makes some number X of claims that are found false, they can be banned from bringing any more cases for some period of time Y.

      It'd basically be an extension of the laws concerning vexatious litigants.
  • So we can't exactly sit down with a cup of coffee and 'read' over the DMCA to understand our own rights. Of course, the big companies can! This works to the advantage of the big corporations because we don't know our own rights!

    The world would be a much different place if the users were informed as to their rights. Either the company is required to provide you your rights or some kind of repercussion if the company really is indeed involved in frivolous takedowns. Charge a company $100,000 every time so
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, you can sit down and read the DMCA, its not like they deny you access to the laws if you're not a lawyer. IANAL but I have read the DMCA anyways, after my internet connection had been shut off due to a copyright infringement notice. I got my internet turned back on because I read the DMCA and was able to shoot holes through the notice, this was quite a long time ago when the very first round of notices were sent out. My ISP (University) decided I was right and reconnected me. The only person who i
  • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @05:41PM (#20595459)
    Link to the clip. [youtube.com]

    It's a clip of a VH1 show that shows Chris' campaign ad for a school board.

    - RG>
  • A few months ago I posted a video where I showed how to search for cheats and make game genie codes using an open source NES debugger/emulator called FCEUXD. My video basically showed how to do a cheat search in Contra and alter the game code (using a debugger) to give the player high jump ability. It stayed up for a few months before I received an e-mail from youtube saying the ESA claimed my video was infringing copyrights.

    I seriously don't know what happened here, as there are thousands of videos showing
    • by mdm-adph (1030332)
      Whoa... but isn't what you did like a perfect example of the proper application of Fair Use?
  • I had a little copyright issue with a Yahoo Wideget .... (lifted a background image by accident:O )
    When I got the notification it was written in the letter, that I have the write to file a counter notification in case I felt I was wrongfully notified (or for whatever else of a reason)

    This came from Yahoo legal, and I felt it was presented in a very correct way. Maybe others do not do that, or people do not read these papers ... not sure ...
  • Legally his counter notice was nothing more than holding his finger against the inside of a coat pocket and claiming he had a gun. Knight got lucky that Viacom didn't call his bluff.
    • You're not too bright, are you? Do you really think Viacom wouldn't call anything remotely a bluff?
      Yeah. A team of lawyers cowering at the prospect of litigation. Ha!
      • Every time a company gets faced with a potential lawsuit - they weigh the returns vs. the costs to determine whether or not to proceed.
  • by Headrick (25371) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @06:47PM (#20596293)
    They're lucky they didn't get the airborne laser to the house full of un-popped popcorn treatment as well!
  • by proxima (165692) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @07:07PM (#20596535)

    Almost no one ever files a counter notice. That's the biggest problem we've encountered [with DMCA claims on sites like YouTube]. Most people have no idea that right exists.

    Usual disclaimer: IANAL. Most (or at least many) people have many misconceptions about copyright law, with far more important consequences.

    One is that everything you distribute of your own creation is copyrighted (registration is not required except to back up your claim and allow for greater damages). How many people publish their videos to YouTube, get their content used (in full), and not realize that they have some control over whether that is a copyright violation?

    Perhaps even more important, the very concept of fair use itself (in the U.S. at least). It wouldn't surprise me if people thought that many more things were copyright violations than really are. I'm sadly lacking in real survey info, but how many people have even heard of the four major tenets of fair use? If you haven't, read the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] including the law in the U.S.

    As for DMCA counterclaims, I suspect most individuals either 1.) feel that they probably were infringing (even if they could legally argue fair use) or 2.) aren't willing to fight a big corporation in court. As with so many civil and criminal cases, it's much easier just to fold than to fight it. The system is largely designed that way.

    One major problem with modern U.S. copyright law is just how big the gray area really is. Are EULAs legal? What can they legally restrict? Are "promotional items" labeled "not for resale" really binding to those who receive them (for an ongoing case about this challenge to the first sale doctrine, see the EFF's page [eff.org])?

    Part of this gray area is that infringement is hard to define except on a case by case basis. Some will happily exploit any gray area, while others will stay far from it and end up bound by fairly restrictive rules. I've heard (on "On the Media", about a year ago) that movie producers will sometimes pay royalties in documentaries for things like ring tones and casual music recorded by the video camera. Common sense suggests that somebody's cell phone going off during a documentary is fair use, but some companies are afraid of litigation.

    The unfortunate result is that since fighting back is too much risk or too much work, people will just cave in to the big media companies and their takedown notices.
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      There is no fair use exemption for redistributing content. There is nothing that allows you to "build" on another's property to make your own in this context.

      For example, no matter how cute I think it might be to overlay Neil Diamond's "Heartlight" with the word "head" everywhere Neil is singing "heart", all I can legally do is play the result for myself. Should I take this "derivative work" and publish it in any form - including just making it available for download on the Internet - I will (rightfully)
      • Technically, the GPL isin't a EULA. It's a distribution license. EULAs come into effect when you use a program, distribution licenses come into effect when you pass it on to someone else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by proxima (165692)

        There is no fair use exemption for redistributing content. There is nothing that allows you to "build" on another's property to make your own in this context.

        That's just simply untrue. Quoting from a book, showing a clip of a movie in a movie review show, etc, are all examples of fair use in which one is redistributing content. The redistribution is for comment/criticism, is short in length, and the resulting work does not compete with the work being derived. Thus, even if it's for commercial purposes, i

      • (I am not a lawyer).

        As Constantine pointed out, the GPL is not a EULA.

        If anything, EULAs are illegal because, despite being End User License Agreements, they do not meet the legal definition of a license: "4) n. a private grant of the right to use some intellectual property such as a patent or musical composition." according to law.com [law.com]. (There are four other definitions; Three of them involve government, the last is for the verb license)

        Let me make one thing perfectly clear: By Title 17 (US Copyright Law)
        • by cfulmer (3166)
          Black's defines license as "1. a revocable permission to commit some act that would otherwise be unlawful . . . 2. The certificate or document evidencing such permission."

          An EULA is an agreement which grants a (definition 1) license. That makes the EULA a (definition 2) license.

          The position of most software publishers will be that Section 117 does not apply, since you are not the "owner of a copy of a computer program," but merely a licensee. I don't think they would care much about calling you the own
      • by cfulmer (3166)

        (1) It is possible to 'build' on somebody else's content. See Campbell v. Acuff-Rose, involving a parody of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman. Your example is probably not a parody, and I'm not even sure you can play the result for yourself -- it's an unauthorized derivative work.

        (2) EULAs are not automatically unenforceable, but are still subject to principles of contract law. In recent months, portions of two different EULAs have been struck down. Check out this Wired Article. [wired.com]

        There is certainly fair u

  • Most people have no idea that the right exists.

    As much as I want to support fair use and limit copyright, I have to admit that 99.999% of the questionable content I see on places like YouTube are put up there without the permission of the rightful owner. Now, I bet most of the time the rightful owner doesn't care. And most of the time, they're kind of flattered. But I'm not at all surprised that few file counter claims because there's so much copyrighted stuff out there on these sites.
    • BTW, before I get flamed, I should point out that most people aren't pirates. Well, if they are, I don't have any data. But I think that most people who put expelled content are pirates. Big difference.
  • by sh3l1 (981741)
    the most important aspect of this story is that youtube keeps the clips if there is a DMCA takedown notice. they could have their own secret stockpile of movies! :)

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