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Google Deal Allegedly Lets UMG Wipe YouTube Videos It Doesn't Own 392

Sockatume writes "Ars Technica is reporting that Google has given music conglomerate UMG the right to arbitrarily eliminate YouTube videos. When UMG had Megaupload's 'Mega Song' removed from the site, it was assumed that they had made a DMCA claim, and that YouTube was responding under its 'safe harbor' obligations. Megaupload's legal response argues that UMG has no grounds to request a DMCA takedown. However in court filings (PDF), UMG claims that its licensing agreement with Google gives it the power and authority to unilaterally wipe videos from the site, bypassing the DMCA entirely. If true, that means that your activities on YouTube are not just curtailed by the law, but by the terms of their secret agreements with media conglomerates."
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Google Deal Allegedly Lets UMG Wipe YouTube Videos It Doesn't Own

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:01PM (#38399342)

    Big Content doesn't need a law to shut you down.

    • by InsightIn140Bytes ( 2522112 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:08PM (#38399486)
      And Google is helping them to abuse little guys. "Don't be evil", huh?
      • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:37PM (#38399928)

        Anyone who believes a "don't be evil" tag from any public corporation is fooling themselves, especially a corporation whose entire reason for existance is advertising. *You* are not their customer. You are a product they sell to their customer -- something its always good to keep in mind with these companies.

        And, as they say, the customer is always right.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:43PM (#38400028) Homepage Journal

        Actually this may be a very good thing. Talk about giving someone enough rope to hang themselves with.
        The Megaupload video is so not important. Them taking down the TWIT video podcast really could be a freedom of the press issue and one that overrides their agreement with YouTube.

      • by Frankie70 ( 803801 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:17PM (#38400648)

        The full motto is 'Don't be evil to your customers.'.

        UMG is their customer - Google isn't being evil to them - so where's the problem.

      • I'm not really downing Google on this one as it could have gone either way. Option 1: UMG "This is infringing on our IP (censorship). Take it down or we bury you in an avalanche of lawsuits. Now of course Google can handle their lawsuits but it's really not in their shareholders best interest to rack up a bunch of billable hours. Option 2: You take the deal and no one (of consequence) gets hurt. If the artists in the video wanted to make a statement they could have done a better job of it by not renewing
    • by cpghost ( 719344 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:30PM (#38399808) Homepage
      Soon enough, Big Content will own the companies that own the intertubes, so yeah, they'll do as they please. That's our Achilles' heel: we, the public, don't own the infrastructure, i.e. the roads. Of course, we could always piggy back an encrypted p2p network on top of commercial carrier backbones, but it will always remain a matter of goodwill from the backbone operators (and their corporate overlords) whether and how long we could do that.
    • And if someone doesn't like it, they can use another site else like Vimeo []. I have yet to have videos that have had audio disabled on YouTube suffer the same fate on Vimeo. Or host your own web site and take control of your life.

      I just wish they would stop whining about how someone who is letting you use their site for free isn't fair .....
    • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:33PM (#38402706)

      Our partners do not have broad take-down rights to remove anything they don’t like from our service. In limited cases, if they so choose, and based on exclusive agreements with their artists, partners can take down live performances.

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:01PM (#38399348)

    This is the start of UMG's war against cats doing funny things

  • Again and again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:03PM (#38399372)

    Again and again, Google proves that it's beholden to the big content publishers and does everything they ask. "Don't be evil," indeed.

    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:05PM (#38399430) Homepage Journal
      I posted the solution [] in a comment to yesterday's story: leave YouTube behind.
    • It's not longer "do not evil", it's "let someone else do the evil for us!"

    • Re:Again and again (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:14PM (#38399582) Journal
      I suspect that when your core business depends on building massive caches of copyrighted materials(for what one would hope is a non-infringing purpose; but search engine databases aren't exactly a fully litigated area...), with some side businesses in youtube, Google Books, etc, etc. Team Content is able to make some interesting threats regarding decades of potentially catastrophic legislation...

      Now, lest I be misunderstood, I think that the fact that what are commonly thought of as free venues for expression are, on the internet, sometimes governed by secret contracts between unaccountable corporations is rather sinister(it'd be like living in a city where all the sidewalks were privatized and the nearest business given the power to have their rentacops eject somebody from their patch of sidewalk for any reason); but also a more or less inevitable result of the fact that there are no 'natural commons' on the internet. Everything that is 'on' the internet is there because somebody's server is powered up, connected to the net, and responding to HTTP requests. Every last inch of 'the internet' correlates to a piece of private property crunching data somewhere. The only hope, really, is to make it easier(with things like bittorrent, or distributed caching mechanisms) for little people to easily and economically set up their own chunks of the internet...

      As for the 'don't be evil' though, do you really think that Google wants to take anything down from youtube, or give anyone a cut of the ad revenue on something they spent money serving? Why would they do that? It would be foolish to expect Google to stand up for you any more than their bottom line dictates; and that may not be very much at all; but I'm not seeing the motivation to reduce the supply of youtube ad-fodder unless their hand is being forced in some way. If they wanted to make youtube smaller, they'd just delete stuff themselves, it'd be trivial.
      • Re:Again and again (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:19PM (#38399658) Journal

        It would be foolish to expect Google to stand up for you any more than their bottom line dictates

        That's the exact same line we've heard for decades excusing evil acts from all sorts of corporations. That is exactly the kind of reasoning Google should avoid if they were ever serious about "Don't Be Evil". Turns out that they weren't.

        • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
          I am leaving this story in my mental "To be continued" state. UMG is definitely evil. Google is apparently is making deals with them. There is also more to this story than what we initially saw. The question concerning Google is whether they willingly chose to join in on UMGs evil, or if they were faced with choosing the lesser of two evils.
  • by danaris ( 525051 ) <danaris@[ ].com ['mac' in gap]> on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:05PM (#38399420) Homepage

    I have to wonder if Google would agree with this. It's entirely possible (given that we do not have access to the agreement in question) that by one interpretation, it does allow UMG to do exactly that—but that this was never Google's intention.

    It would be really fun to watch Google bring out the actual agreement and show how it doesn't, by a reasonable reading, permit this.

    (And yeah, I know it's also possible that Google did, in fact, intend this, but in general, that seems unlikely, as it would be simply stupid for Google to allow something of that nature without heavy, heavy restrictions on it.)

    Dan Aris

    • by Uhhhh oh ya! ( 1000660 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:32PM (#38399842)

      I have to agree, I wouldn't be surprised if we are only getting part of the story. It wouldn't really make sense for Google to give someone the power to delete any video they saw fit, and obviously that's not how its being used seeing as this is the first mention we have heard of this secret deal. It seems more likely that they gave UMG delete privileges on the grounds that they only be used on things they have copyrighted. Some mindless office drone at UMG made the mistake of deleting it and Google didn't catch it in time to restore it.

      Google has learned that creating a quality product without being sued is not an easy task and sometimes you have to shake hands and play nice with other corporations. There are groups of people who flag videos as inappropriate just because they don't like the message in it and yet no one called Google evil for giving stupid people sitting at home the ability to get videos taken down.

    • by Tekfactory ( 937086 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:10PM (#38400536) Homepage

      It took me a while to find this story []

      The record labels were caught abusing the anti-piracy tools that Google gave them to police their own content.

    • by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:36PM (#38400978) Homepage Journal

      >>I have to wonder if Google would agree with this.

      Why wouldn't they? If they're rational, they'll takedown every video as soon as they get a complaint from a major rightsholder, regardless of the merits. From a purely business and legal perspective.

      I watched pretty much the entirety of the SOPA hearings live yesterday, and the people opposed to it (Lofgren D-San Jose and Issa R-Vista, mainly) pointed out the weakness in the takedown regime. Basically, if an entity responds to a takedown notice by taking it down, that ends any threat of legal action from people with real legal budgets. Regardless of the merits of the notice.

      This creates a scenario where big rights holders can basically put a bullet into an website they don't like - Lofgren referenced a website taken down for a year (with no compensation or even charges filed) for copyright infringement for showing a video that they had permission for. The RIAA asserted copyright - when they did not, in fact - but nothing happened to them.

      When they made a proposal to the SOPA amendment to adopt a loser-pays system if the claim is found without merit, it was shot down by that fucking idiot with the fucking idiotic name Goodlatte because he didn't want to disincentivize people from filing takedown notices. When Issa (and some other gentleman from California whose name I can't remember - Chaffetz, maybe) pointed out that there would be a veritable flood of copyright notices, Goodlatte and Lamar Smith said, yes, that's what we want to see have happen.

      The real kicker was the debate over SOPA granting immunity to intermediate agencies for taking down websites. In other words, if Visa and your ISP cut off your website due to the unproven allegation of infringement, they are immune to any damages resulting from it. But if they don't comply, they will have to risk legal action. Issa and others rightly pointed out that there needs to be some sort of counterweight to this, otherwise unproven allegations by the RIAA will give them the power to turn of every web site in the world (from the American standpoint).

      Here's the fucked up bit: Mel Watt (D-North Carolina) rose in opposition to this amendment, saying that the current bill only granted immunity to ISPs if they were issued a court order, and that was the correct way to do it. Issa countered by saying that, no, that's actually what my amendment does, but thanks for agreeing with me that that's the right way to do it. Mel Watt: Uh, I'm still opposed to the amendment, as it's not necessary. It was the most outrageous example of bullshit I've ever seen, and I spend a fair bit of my life following these sorts of things. Fuck Mel Watt - he needs an honesty implant.

      Everybody needs to get on board with this and write to their representatives to kill SOPA once it passes committee (as it looks like it will).

  • by Laxori666 ( 748529 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:07PM (#38399462) Homepage
    <This post is no longer available due to a copyright claim by UMG.>
  • by ciderbrew ( 1860166 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:10PM (#38399510)
    Sounds like a reach around deal to me to keep each other happy. Youtube isn't a need or a right and they owe you nothing.
  • by sageres ( 561626 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:12PM (#38399526)

    Can anyone recommend any Youtube alternatives that are just as fast and free storage and at the same time will not be bullied by UMG / MPAA / etc.?

  • by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:14PM (#38399564)

    ...The one you read and agreed to before uploading content to YouTube, and then there's the "secret" TOS you aren't allowed to read and agree to before uploading content to YouTube, yet you are held to both?

    Methinks YouTube will have some 'splainin' to do to a judge as to how that's OK when all others must disclose their entire TOS.


  • by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:14PM (#38399572)

    I think Google needs to rethink either its corporate behaviour or its motto, because the two do not happily coexist.

    • by GrBear ( 63712 )

      I think Google needs to rethink either its corporate behaviour or its motto, because the two do not happily coexist.

      Depends on who you believe their audience is. If you believe it to be you, then yes. However Google is in business to make money, which means you are the product that Google is selling to corporations (in form of advertisements and tracking history).

      When you consider the true audience, the motto makes more sense. Google doesn't want to upset the corporations feeding their bank account. The

  • by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:14PM (#38399576)
    If they don't have a copyright claim wouldn't this be Tortious interference? From Wikipedia

    "Tortious interference with business relationships occurs where the tortfeasor acts to prevent the plaintiff from successfully establishing or maintaining business relationships. This tort may occur when a first party's conduct intentionally causes a second party not to enter into a business relationship with a third party that otherwise would probably have occurred. Such conduct is termed tortious interference with prospective business relations, expectations, or advantage or with prospective economic advantage."

    • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:11PM (#38402380) Homepage

      If they don't have a copyright claim wouldn't this be Tortious interference?

      This is one of the more subtle and devious aspects of SOPA. It removes liability from ISPs for doing whatever the RIAA tells them to do. Not sure if it affects tortious interference, but it does affect restraint of trade. Restraint of trade says that Mastercard can't just refuse to process transactions at, say, K-Mart, without cause. That keeps Mastercard from being in Wal Mart's pocket.

      SOPA says it is OK for the people who transport media to be in the pocket of a subset of the people who produce media.

  • Yes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rydia ( 556444 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:16PM (#38399598)

    I'm astounded that people are, uh, astounded by this possibility. Do you seriously think posting things on YouTube is a right? The site is a service provided by a corporation and is almost certainly awash with "secret" agreements, just because of the subject matter of the site and how popular it is. I use sarcasm quotes for secret because Google has no obligation to disclose its contractual relationships with third parties because you, the user, aren't party to them.

    Don't get me wrong, this is a pretty skeezy agreement, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that YouTube is different from any other business asset. Its operation is governed by a load of inter-party contracts, it is controlled with no external oversight, and it exists to make money. The only difference is that we are now both the resource and the consumer, and I don't think people have quite internalized the logical conclusion of that relationship. Google doesn't owe you anything or exist to safeguard some specious rights. Everything between you and them is business, nothing more and nothing less.

  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <> on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:24PM (#38399706) Homepage Journal

    But more importantly, Universal argues that its takedown is not governed by the DMCA in the first place. In a statement supporting Megaupload's complaint, CIO Kim Dotcom had stated "it is my understanding" that Universal had invoked the DMCA's notice-and-takedown provisions.

    That is the best name for a CIO ever.

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:31PM (#38399814) Homepage Journal

    And I've never paid for any YouTube. At least not to see anything.

    So better than complaining that free stuff has secrets, we'll complain that the secrets deny us free stuff?

    If you want free speech, don't look to corporations to provide it. Eventually, this will come to the point where you'll pick up your truly free speech from a peer-to-peer connection, like a WiFi hotspot somewhere you happen to 'know about', then from phone to phone, or in the cafe. At least until they figure out how to block those outlets.

    We are in the fight of our lives, to ensure we can preserve our freedom of speech, assembly, and redress. There is no assurance that we will prevail, either. It's a lot easier to suppress speech when it is under the guise of protecting other rights, despite those being largely the rights of corporations - as if they should have any. But that's another fight. Sort of.

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:44PM (#38400054) Homepage
    Google seem to be trying their best to the biggest douches on the net. I think I can safely say I won't be buying another Android phone again and I'm going to start migrating off of Gmail. I've already started using DuckDuckGo for all my searching.
  • by X.25 ( 255792 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:46PM (#38400112)

    1) Message claimed that video was blocked on "copyright grounds". Not on grounds of deal with Youtube.

    2) Does UMG have the same deal with Vimeo?

  • by jtara ( 133429 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:50PM (#38400194)

    Waiting for the first Big Content vs. Big Content YouTube war!

    That is, when one Big Content company that has this agreement with YouTube declares war on another Big Content company that has the same agreement with YouTube, and they take down all of each other's content.

    Wait a minute.... wouldn't we wind-up with YouTube as originally envisioned?

    The only way to win this game is to not play at all...

  • UMG (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:12PM (#38400562)

    I produced corporate videos. We properly licensed a piece of classical music for online use in a video from a major orchestra who specialise in tracks for companies such as ours.

    When the video was uploaded Youtube slapped adverts all over it due to a copyright claim from UMG.

    Our complaints and appeals to Youtube were ignored and in the end we ended up having to change the music. We even had assurances from the orchestra itself that UMG had no claim at all

  • by Frankie70 ( 803801 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:24PM (#38400770)

    In the Matrix, machines depend on humans for energy - that's just a metaphor.

    Google's energy is content. Google keeps humans happy by providing them a lot of freebies. The whole purpose of the human race is to create content for google to index, serve etc.

    Welcome to the Matrix.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @03:05PM (#38401392)
    Google: Do no evil, unless contractually obligated, then it's okay.
  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:05PM (#38402290) Homepage

    Well this sucks, I already deleted all my Youtube channels and one was pretty big because they wanted me to connect my accounts and wanted my cell number, no thanks. So Youtube is out and Vimeo and Dailymotion is in BUT what the hell do I use instead of Google seach?

  • by X.25 ( 255792 ) on Friday December 16, 2011 @04:14PM (#38402428) the fact US government probably can not remove a video from Youtube like this (and without generating huge shitstorm).

    But a corporation can.

    Welcome to the bright future.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.