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Cost of Pre-Screening All YouTube Content: US$37 Billion 345

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the assuming-screeners-are-omniscient dept.
Fluffeh writes "The folks that push 'Anti-Piracy' and 'Copying is Stealing' seem to often request that Google pre-screens content going up on YouTube and of course expect Google to cover the costs. No-one ever really asks the question how much it would cost, but some nicely laid out math by a curious mind points to a pretty hefty figure indeed. Starting with who to employ, their salary expectations and how many people it would take to cover the 72 hours of content uploaded every minute, the numbers start to get pretty large, pretty quickly. US$37 billion a year. Now compare that to Google's revenue for last year."
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Cost of Pre-Screening All YouTube Content: US$37 Billion

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  • Or... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Troyusrex (2446430) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @09:54AM (#40155159)
    Just crowdsource the pre-screening and get it done free! Oh... wait....
  • by repapetilto (1219852) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @09:54AM (#40155161)

    Using the fact that the average pay for a judge in Silicon Valley is apparently $177,454, and that based on the volume of uploads and number of hours in a working day, a mere 199,584 judges would be required as screeners, this gives us the final figure for the cost of checking properly those 72 hours per minute:

            $36,829,468,840 per year.

    • Copyright infringement is always supposed to be decided by the courts; otherwise, we can have no fair use defense...

      Oh, I see what you did there...
      • by rgbrenner (317308) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:01AM (#40155237)

        Youtube is not the court system, it is not there to enforce your rights, it is not there to decide what is fair use, and it's judgement does not need to stand up to Supreme Court analysis.

        Youtube is for posting videos which Google can use to display ads.

        That's it. Nothing else.

        If Youtube wants to screen content, then they can train their employees to delete what they find unacceptable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>> they can train their employees to delete what they find unacceptable.

          Like how they removed a 16-year-old teen's video as "hate speech" because she read her Bible's passages about same-sex marriage being forbidden. (Meanwhile they left-up all the other reply videos that called her a "whore" or "asshole" or even included death threats.) Yep. Youtube certainly can screen content in order to defend their right to use videos to attack a teen girl.

          • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:56AM (#40155999) Homepage
            Well to be fair calling someone a whore or asshole isn't illegal but "hate speech" is. Death threats are very illegal if they are deemed to be serious however.
          • Those take-downs are all initiated by someone filing a complaint with YouTube. Asking YouTube to pre-screen everything that gets posted is an entirely different animal.
        • by Thruen (753567)
          I think the only really important thing to take from this is that Youtube is not there to enforce your rights. Of course, the same logic would suggest that Youtube is not there to protect content owners either. The truth is if we tell Google to filter all the videos they put on Youtube, then we are forcing them to decide, putting the power in their hands. You're right that they can filter anything, but they haven't chosen to filter anything outside of pornography. If the courts force them to screen infringi
      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>Copyright infringement is always supposed to be decided by the courts

        That's how it works NOW. If you uploaded an interview with Ke$ha, and she files a DMCA takedown notice, and you respond with "Put it back up; I did not infringe anything", your video will be restored..... Kesha can now choose to sue you in court. Whereupon you get to decide to defend yourself with a fair use argument. (Alterntiavely Kesha could just drop the claim, and your video stays up.)

        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:19AM (#40155493)

          Or we could just euthanize anyone with a $ in their name and anyone stupid enough to interview them. If this person with a $ in their name exists and they chose that name, it is the trashiest thing I have probably ever heard of.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Or we could just euthanize anyone with a $ in their name and anyone stupid enough to interview them

            How about people with numbers in their name? Or are you somehow exempt?

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:20AM (#40155501)

      Just because due diligence would kill the market does not mean it should not be required.

      for example, if I am mining potash to make fertilizer and in doing so am spewing gobs of arsenic and uranium over NY city, I can't say, well the cost of not doing that would make my fertalizer cost $500 a pound. Ironically, this is an interesting example: potash fertilizer mining has exceptions for allowed uranium release. But still it's regulated and that regulation causes costs.

      At one time steamships were having boiler explosions at an alarming rate. Despite the deaths and cost of repairs it was still economically better to use cheap boilers than pay for better ones. The US instituted standards and inspections, and even forced owners to pay for inspections. This drove up the cost of shipping in the short run.

      The same was true of the train industry. Indeed deaths and poor working conditions are what led to the formation of the first US trade unions.

      In both cases it was claimed that due diligence would put the industry out of bussiness. it didn't. Costs were higher, yes.

      But the problem here is one of externalities. Youtube is infringing on copyrights and making money by not having to pay for that infringement. that's the same as me polluting and not having to pay the consequences.

      The starting place for the negotiation needs to be not starting with zero and working up, but starting with the maximum cost and working down. This makes it incumbent on the infringer/polluter to come to the table.

      • by Sniper98G (1078397) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:26AM (#40155559)

        So your argument here, is that poisoning and killing people is the same as copyright infringement?

        • by mooingyak (720677)

          So your argument here, is that poisoning and killing people is the same as copyright infringement?

          No, that's not his argument. His argument is that the cost of preventing infringement does not excuse the decision not to prevent, nor removes the liability incurred from infringing.

          • by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @11:05AM (#40156123)

            While it is an interesting argument, it is still fundamentally flawed.

            YouTube is not the one performing the copyright infringement. "They" don't like to hear this, but "They" are required to control and defend their copyrights, and nobody else.

            To say that YouTube needs to verify every single possible iota of content for proper use of legal entitlements is just plain crazy. That would be like IHOP being required to frisk you down, take your smartphone and tablets, and then somehow check to see if you have the legal entitlements to all IP on your person. I say somehow, because the logistics of identifying the copyright holder, contacting them, and the copyright holder even assessing the truth is damn near insurmountable.

            No.

            It needs to be a system where the copyright holders are responsible for administering the copyrights that we, The People, gave to them. I don't think society would have decided to give them those copyrights if they were going to go all psycho-batshit-nuts and started conscripting large groups of citizens into their private copyright armies to terrorize the masses.

            At some point, enough is enough, and it no longer serves the original purpose, which was to enrich society by providing a stream of valuable content for the Public Domain.

            • by causality (777677) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @11:21AM (#40156369)

              YouTube is not the one performing the copyright infringement. "They" don't like to hear this, but "They" are required to control and defend their copyrights, and nobody else.

              Amen. If Youtube is "infringing copyright" then so is every ISP, hard drive manufacturer, monitor maker, and speaker manufacturer.

              "Who cares about costs," some say? Obviously hard drive manufacturers should include hardware-based filtering software to make sure nothing copyright is stored on the drives without prior authorization from the media cartels. Yes this would drive up the costs of hard drives, but ... but ... externalities!

              Yeah. I'd rather every copyright be invalidated than live in that world. Far as I am concerned, the copyright cartels already receive enough special treatment. While it's low-brow of me, and I admit that freely, I derive a certain enjoyment from watching how much they scream and cry when they don't get their way. They're really not used to that.

            • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @11:47AM (#40156745)

              Exactly. If I upload a video, how is YouTube going to know automatically that I own the copyrights to it (and all components of it). Sure, if I used some popular song as a major part of the video, they could identify that. I'd have a hard time proving that I have the right to sing Cee Lo Green's Lady Killer in a YouTube video. However, what if I used a more obscure song? Would YouTube know that No More Stones was by Enter The Haggis and not owned by me?

              In addition, what if I actually *got* permission to use a song in the background? Would YouTube automatically deny my video because they know that a song's copyright is owned by someone else (but don't know that I got the appropriate permissions)?

              There is no way that they could do this automatically. They would need teams of people researching the legal history of every video. (And thus wouldn't be able to use $1 Indian workers like Facebook.) Even if they did this, and spent billions doing so, they would *still* make mistakes (deny valid videos, approve infringing ones).

              Of course, the RIAA/MPAA don't care about this. They'd love to see YouTube/Google go under along with every other Internet company out there. Then, we could go back to the "Good Old Days" where the RIAA/MPAA reigned supreme and people had to come groveling to them for their entertainment.

        • by arose (644256)
          So your argument is that you can't grasp that analogies don't require the actions in question to be of equal magnitude?
      • by actiondan (445169) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @11:11AM (#40156217)

        >Youtube is infringing on copyrights and making money by not having to pay for that infringement. that's the same as me polluting and not having to pay the consequences.

        No it's not. There are some similarities but there are also differences.

        Youtube is a middleman between content uploaders and content viewers. In your polluting example, you are not a middleman. Would you make a waste company responsible for pre-screening every load of waste they pick up from a customer to deliver to the dump to ensure it does not have any illegal waste in it?

        Forcing youtube to screen content could have terrible consequences for all websites that act as conduits between their users (slashdot being an example) - could Slashdot afford to pre-screen every comment here for copyright violations, libel, hate speech or other illegal acts?

        Right now, such sites can operate on the basis of removing content when there is a complaint. Forcing pre-screening (presumably with penalties if violations slip through) could prove costly.

    • Yup, non-story really - Facebook manage to screen all of their photos and images (admittedly its not pre-screening), and they do it on a much lower payscale than this bloke assumes.

      • Yup, non-story really - Facebook manage to screen all of their photos and images (admittedly its not pre-screening), and they do it on a much lower payscale than this bloke assumes.

        Yes, if only YouTube would get on board with the exploitation of impoverished people (like what Face book does in its screening program). The world would be a better place.

  • by jschmitz (607083)
    nice article - let the studios pony up if they are so worried about it
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @09:55AM (#40155171)
    I guess by the MPAA's logic, that is another $37 billion added to the cost of piracy. After all, if there were no piracy, that money would not "have to" be spent, right?
  • by INeededALogin (771371) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @09:56AM (#40155183) Journal
    Why would Google need to screen every bit of content? A trust system with the uploader, user feedback(they already get), random sampling, and some automatic processes should cover this for a lot less than 37 billion.

    btw... worst job in the world would be one where you had to watch non-stop youTube. I would hate to be the guy who got stuck looking at bot fly removals all day.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @09:56AM (#40155185)

    [Sorry to go against the party line here]

    I always find it amusing when Google claims that it's impossible to filter copyrighted content, that the uploaders are the copyright infringers, but at the same time, YouTube is doing a heck of a job to filter out porn -- you never find porn there and I don't think that's because nobody ever tried uploading it.

    So what gives?

    • by SausageOfDoom (930370) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:00AM (#40155233)

      Presumably they score each video based on what percentage of skin-coloured pink there is per frame, multiplied by whether speech detection gets a hit for "I'm here to fix your fridge".

    • by MikeMacK (788889)
      Probably because they don't need to watch all 72 hours that is uploaded every minute to have an idea, almost immediately, if the content is appropriate.
    • by Roobles (1880882) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:07AM (#40155323)
      I think it's because a significant subset of users would automatically flag porn, but not many flag copyrighted material.
      • Working in moderation at another social service, I can tell you this is dead on. Porn and the like gets overflagged, to the point where even moderately suggestive stuff (pics with too low cut of a shirt) gets flagged.
    • by oneiros27 (46144)

      As best that I can tell for the 'safe search' filters for the images -- they guess based on how much flesh tones are in the images.

      So if you paint all of your actors and actresses blue and make avatar porn, it might not get caught automatically. (of course, someone might still report it, and get it taken down)

    • by sjames (1099)

      People will willingly flag material as inappropriate (crowdsourcing) but don't give a crap if you can hear 3 notes of someone's song in the background. Only RIAA lawyers can get to aneurysm bursting anger over 3 notes.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      The position of "porn filter" is a highly sought after unpaid position at Google.
    • There is a difference though, isn't there?

      Porn is easy, a single glance, at even a screenshot of a video as opposed to actually watching a video is normally enough to determine if it passes some fairly prudish lines. You simply take a screenshot every 10 minutes and place those shots into a single image to be shown to a human judge, they could determine the nature of the video in a single 10 second glance most of the time.

      I remember I used to run a blog on blogger, I had a picture of me in the snow wi
    • Porn is simple, pretty obvious. And therefore easy to identify. Now copyright infringement is much more difficult, because how do you know where the video infringe copyright? What part of the video? You would have to know all existing commercial videos to be able to tell if a new video is a copy of any of them.

      And that does not even consider cases where the label falsely says that the video infringes a copyrigth.
  • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheDarkMaster (1292526) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @09:56AM (#40155189)
    Google only need to send the bill to the RIAA. And only do the job if the RIAA pay.
  • One of my jobs is a photographer. I make videos too. I generally see copyright as a good thing. However, I'm also a realist. Piracy is bad, m'kay. However, at this point fighting piracy like this is going to do as much if not more harm to our economy and/or culture.

  • I'm sure the RIAA would be happy to pay the salaries of all the pre-screeners once they have used this to stop piracy and get all that extra revenue.
  • Retarded analysis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rgbrenner (317308) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @09:58AM (#40155203)

    The article says only judges are qualified to screen content, and the average judge in Silicon Valley gets paid $177,454

    So let's see:
    1) Judges are not required. You can TRAIN people.
    2) and those people you train can be ANYWHERE -- including INDIA where Facebook's screeners are
    3) and those Indian screeners definitely do NOT expect $177,000/year
    4) and you can use software to help screen content, which Youtube already does to block content it has removed from being re-uploaded.

    The article did get one thing right: the analysis is absurd

    • by Spad (470073)

      Still, nearly 200,000 people just to pre-screen Youtube videos? That's over 6 times as many employees as Google currently has, even if you're only paying them $10,000/year that's $2bn just to make sure that, on average the videos being uploaded to Youtube don't possibly maybe infringe on some guy's copyright somewhere - and it probably wouldn't even be 100% effective.

      • by rgbrenner (317308)

        $10,000/year?! That's way over the standard pay. Facebook pays $1/hour [gawker.com]

        So that's $2000/year (assuming 40/hour weeks.. even though you could probably have the Indian employees work 12+ hours/day)

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Why should Google pay so little? They are a private business. If they want to pay $200k/year/head to screeners and then bill the RIAA that is their right.

    • by sjames (1099)

      The problem is, the courts won't care later if some guy who makes less than minimum wage is 'pretty sure' it's fair use. That and I'm sure poorly paid workers in India are up on all the latest bubblegum pop coming out in the U.S.

      But let's go with $17K/year employees instead. Now it 'only' costs 3.4 billion (yes, billion with a B) a year .

      That's just for youtube. If you add everyone else's costs to the mix, even at the 17K/year pay scale it exceeds the total value of the thing being protected.

      • by rgbrenner (317308)

        No, stick with the $1/hour Indian screeners.

        When an Indian screener decides a video MAY need to be removed, the video is sent to a more skilled, normally paid screener working in the US. This US screener decides if the video warrants deletion.

        This is Facebook's standard practice.

  • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:02AM (#40155267)

    I want to see the MPAA and RIAA clamp down on everything we do online. Let them start taking down mere references to copyrighted works, little kids posting videos of themselves dancing or singing a popular song, takedowns of birthday party videos where a song happens to be playing on the radio in the background, videos with samples and soundbites, music and video reviews, and book reports. Take it all down!

    I mean that's where it's headed already, so I say let them continue until the average person realizes what utter bullshit it is and demands that lawmakers end this bullshit and legislate them back to the stone ages and bring an end to the abomination that is the modern state of copyright.

    If there's one thing the US is good at, it's overreacting and over-legislating once we find our boogeymen and the average person starts getting pissed off. Let it work for the good for once.

    Ok, this probably will never happen, but a guy can dream, can't he?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I want to see the MPAA and RIAA clamp down on everything we do online.

      That's what ACTA is for.

      Let them start taking down mere references to copyrighted works

      Didn't someone already get extradited from the UK for exactly that?

      little kids posting videos of themselves dancing or singing a popular song, takedowns of birthday party videos where a song happens to be playing on the radio in the background, videos with samples and soundbites, music and video reviews, and book reports

      Them too.

      bring an end to the abom

    • Negative. Stop this "dreaming" immediately or we will be forced to take action.

      "Love", "dream", "Mom", and "screen door" are (C) 3003 MomCorp.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>I want to see the MPAA and RIAA clamp down on everything we do online..... until the average person realizes what utter bullshit it is and demands that lawmakers end this bullshit
      >>>
      That's how I feel about President Obama.
      I hope he wins reelection.

    • by The Raven (30575)

      Because that worked so well for marijuana. Oh wait, we just rolled over and took it when they demonized and outlawed it in the middle of last century.

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        Marijuana is a bit different. While I think it should be legalized as well, drugs are seen by the general populace (right or wrong) as being bad. At best, many see marijuana as "less bad".

        I really have trouble believing that we are going to convince the general populace that posting your 10 year-old's birthday party, which includes singing "Happy Birthday" as they blow out the candles, is a valid crime. They are are destroying so much of "fair use", and extending copyrights to such absurd lengths, that i

  • Oh, poor Google -- Imagine the long-term disability costs of inssane asylums for unfortunate employees when asses start deliberately uploading Jar Jar scenes.

  • ... what's the problem?

    NOTE: this post may contain traces of sarcasm.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      . what's the problem?

      Well, the *AAs won't pay for this ... they'll get a law passed that says all internet connections need to be taxed to pay for this in order to keep the world safe from copyright infringement. Then they'll insist on a treaty to make every other country do the same thing or risk trade sanctions.

      Their position is that society should be protecting and guaranteeing their income.

      And, yes, obviously I know you were being sarcastic. But these guys really seem to think like this.

  • where is the big push to enact laws to stop it? And it is not just stealing from people like directors and writers, it is stealing directly from US Taxpayers.
  • $37B is also, IIRC, about equal to the annual income of both the recording and movie industries combined in the US...

    I suppose this number has value for making a point, but in terms of practicality it is barely more meaningful than the "studies" which assume that 1 download = 1 lost, guaranteed sale. Why? Because if the legal regime were even remotely positioned to impose this sort of cost on free services, they'd fold overnight. Larry Page would be booking 100mph from his office to their nearest data cente

  • Provide it as a service and charge the benefiting entities i.e the music and movie industry. Presumably it's a net win for them as they get billed X dollars and see an increase of Y revenue. If it turns out Y is less than X they'll change their mind as to the value of their content and the worth of screening.

  • Meh, I think the systems they have today are pretty impressively sophisticated.

    Uploaded a school video I'd cut together for some local teens, using their video and 3 different (commercial) music clips.

    As soon as I'd uploaded, google told me some content would be restricted in some geographical areas due to licensing for songs X and Y in the video, as well as saying that for the other content, I could use it but viewers would see ads.

    I'm perfectly cool with that, and thought that was impressive, given that t

  • ...because it's too expensive. The blogger's "nicely laid out math" is absurd though. Take down notices seem to get the job done (albeit often imperfectly).
  • The more interesting comparison is to the annual value of the 'valueable intellectual property' being protected. According to the RIAA, the annual sales is only 13 billion a year.

    It makes no sense to spend $1000 to guard a $100 watch.

  • by goffster (1104287) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @10:35AM (#40155707)

    RIAA/MPAA already know full well this is prohibitively expensive.
    They simply want public digital dissemination to be gone.

  • Rather than prescreening every video before making available... only screen videos that get more than, say, 50 unique views per day (counting since the day they were uploaded). If the video is found to contain copyrighted content, it would then be taken offline and the uploader notified. If the uploader genuinely has legitimate claim to the work, then a compensation system should reasonably exist so that the the screeners are discouraged from taking down videos that are not infringing on anybody's copyright. In addition to a wrongfully taken down video being restored, any compensation that the uploader is entitled to for should be based on the number of unique views that were received prior to takedown, so that the more views it gets before they take it down, the more sure they need to be that the content is not infringing.

    I expect that would probably bring down their costs by at least an order of magnitude, as I'm certain that only a very tiny percentage of videos uploaded to youtube get more than 50 views in a single day.

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